Nostalgia by the Hour!
Video games have gotten a whole lot bigger and a whole lot prettier in recent years. At the same time they have become far less social – unless you count “social” as having a hypercaffeinated latchkey kid screech at you through your headset because you just sniped him in Counter-Strike.
Cassidy Schnase pined for the days when friends and siblings would sit shoulder to shoulder before a crackling CRT TV, each endeavoring to help the other navigate virtual adventures – or, depending on the type of video game they were playing, beating one another to a virtual pulp.
Cassidy is a video game man’s video game man, with a background in developing the things professionally. He had long told his wife about his dream of opening a store that emphasizes playing and sharing games rather than merely selling them. Having heard enough of this, Cassidy’s wife offered a genuinely wifely piece of advice: to either do it or stop talking about it.
And Cassidy did it. Today Replay Games offers a kid-friendly atmosphere in which guests can choose from over 6,000 video games to play, complete with 24 televisions, nearly every console imaginable from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo Switch, and big comfy chairs to hunker down in.
“I wish this store existed growing up,” said Cassidy. “I just got tired of waiting.
“I started out with 1,700 games from my personal collection. (My wife was pretty happy to have that much space back in our home.) After taking out a business loan I bought thousands more from Toys’R’Us, Cash Wise Video, and some other stores that were unloading their inventories. I got really lucky finding a lot of games that you could normally only play in Japan – I’ve printed out instructions so North Dakotans can actually play them, too.
“We have all the classic games you remember from your childhood: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, you name it. The average gamer is now 35, so it’s fun watching parents take their kids in to show them what video games used to look like back in the day. Kids who grew up with Minecraft and Fortnite can’t believe how far the technology has come since the ’80s.
“We also have a lot of classics that you might have missed back when they came out, like Super Robot Wars or Crystalis for the Nintendo Entertainment System. People usually have to download emulators and ROM files to play rare, old games like those, but any purist will agree that you can only enjoy the authentic experience when you play a game on its original hardware. Our store also respects copyrights, even when the people who own them are Japanese retirees.
“Our number one goal is to reintroduce couch co-op gaming to the younger generation. Playing a video game with someone else just isn’t the same kind of fun when you’re not in the same room together. That’s why we have a huge selection of games to play with friends like Gauntlet Legends, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Portal 2, and Overcooked 2. Anyone who grew up in the ’90s will love going back to GoldenEye for an afternoon, and even though DuckTales for the NES is a single-player game, it’s so hard that two people will have plenty of opportunities to pass the controller back and forth.”
Replay Games welcomes everyone to come in and get their game on. Kids younger than 12 need a companion, but if they’re any older the staff only requests a phone number in case they have to reach mom or dad. There is no more natural a setting for a birthday party than a place with thousands of video games. And ladies: Why let your fiancé have his bachelor’s party at The Northern Gentlemen’s Club when he’d have so much more fun at Replay Games instead?
Cassidy calls his business model “nostalgia by the hour.” On Friday and the weekend you can play all the games you’d like for $5 an hour, and on other days it’s only $4. Day passes are $15 or $12 respectively, yet however long you stay you won’t pay more than that. But the best deal is the monthly pass – for only $85 a month you’ll have access to the biggest collection of video games in the state of North Dakota. If you work in downtown Fargo, you’ll never have trouble filling out your lunch break again.
Visit replaygames.us for more info about everything Replay Games has to offer!
Photo Credit: M.Schleif Photography and Kilbourne Group
By David Scheller