Grown-up games entertain adults

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

When you’re young, your weekends are all about one thing–fun. Days are filled with arcades, amusement parks and sports.

As you get older, those opportunities to “play” seem fewer and farther between. Our schedules get bogged down with chores and responsibilities and our nights out are typically spent at restaurants and bars.

We set out to find genuinely fun activities for adults here in Chicago that bring back the childhood spirit of letting loose and having a good old fashioned fun time.

FTW Chicago, or For The Win, is basically a Chuck-E-Cheese for grown ups.

Located in Streeterville, it brings back a flood of childhood memories for anyone who ever spent a weekend eating pizza and playing air hockey.With neon lights, flashing game screens, and the sounds of laughter, pinballs dinging and skee-balls rolling, FTW is a great destination for all ages.

Storm Racer 6 at FTW.
Contributor photo.

Kids are allowed and little ones can enjoy the simpler, smaller games, but FTW is definitely geared toward adults. It has a restaurant and full bar, so you can sip on a craft beer or cocktail while you browse the entertainment.

You might want to put your drinks down for active games like the classic Dance Dance Revolution. This 2000s flashback will certainly make you work up a sweat as you stomp on an arrow-labeled foot pad in time with the fast-paced beats. Test out your NBA skills shooting hoops on the Bulls game or play your best piece on a giant, light-up piano.

A Kung Fu Panda-themed game gets you moving, too. As Po, the panda starring in
the Dreamworks animation, tries to master his kung fu moves, your reflexes will have
to be fast as you try to chop different foods and items that pop up on screen.

For movie fans, don’t miss the Jurassic Park simulator that puts you in the driver’s seat of a Jeep as you race off from pterodactyls and velociraptors; the immersive, spaceship style star wars pod; or the Alien shooter game.

For fans of more iconic, retro games, there are larger-than-life versions of Pac-man, Connect Four and Wheel of Fortune. The arcade also has two special features—a virtual reality activity and a full mini-golf course. The VR game requires a few extra game tickets to play in comparison to other options, but the experience is worth it. Step into the VR section by the entrance of the arcade and slip on the mask to be guided into an immersive
gaming experience.

The mini-golf course is great for tourists and locals alike. The course is set up like a tour through the city, with iconic buildings and sights like the Bean and the Art Institute lions. FTW is especially great for a date night or family night out, because the building it’s set in, at 322 E. Illinois St., is a destination in itself.

Situated on the floor below an AMC theater, FTW is also right across from Lucky Strike bowling.At Lucky Strike, also at 322 E. Illinois St., guests can reserve individual lanes or host parties and enjoy pub-style fare and craft cocktails while they play.The venue has 18 bowling lanes, 11 billiard tables, quite a few flat screen TVs and three ping pong tables, so there’s plenty of entertainment to go around.

Safehouse, 60 E. Ontario St., is a spy- themed restaurant and bar on the Near North Side. It’s quite possible you’ve passed this spot a few times without even noticing, because it’s not marked. It is a safehouse, afterall. While the unmarked door is hardly visible, those who know where to look see the entry point into a very James Bond-like night.

When you walk in, you’re asked for a password. If you haven’t done your homework to get it, you and all the other guests standing in the entryway will have to answer a few questions and perform some sort of slightly embarrassing task to get in.

Here’s a hint—you’re on camera. Everyone in the restaurant and bar below can see you doing to YMCA on a giant screen by the bar.

Once you pass the test, a secret door opens and you’re led down a staircase to another secret door, where you’ll get your “Agent ID.” From then on, you’ll be treated like a spy. You’ll be called an agent for the rest of the night, and your bill is referred to as your “damage report” for the evening. The menu offers themed foods, like Fried C4 Cheese Curds, Blacklisted Chicken Tenders, The Spyburger, Spyghetti and Operation Hangover Recovery. An impressive cocktail list includes specials like the tropical Spy’s Demise and the chilled Cold War.

Make sure you check out the photobooth that transports you to destinations around the globe via green screen, and touch all the buttons and switches around the dining
area that say “don’t touch.”

Gadgets and replica spy gear decorate the bars. Don’t miss the comical posters and photos in the bathroom—make sure you read all the signs carefully on your way in and out.

It wasn’t easy to get in to the Safehouse, so don’t expect an easy exit. You’ll need a secret code and will have to sneak your way through a laser maze to make it back to Chicago.

For a totally unique experience that’s becoming quite the trend in cities across the country, take a risk at Bad Axe Throwing, 165 N. Loomis St., in the West Loop where their mission is “to bring the thrill of a traditional Canadian backyard pastime to
urban communities.”

This place is pretty much self explanatory—you throw axes. If that makes you a bit nervous—it probably should—here’s the gist.

Pick up your provided axe with a firm grip, like you would a baseball bat. Make sure the blade of your axe is aiming straight forward, toward the bullseye target and raise the axe up behind your head and lean back and, in one swift motion, bring your axe forward and let it loose.

This is an experience unlike any other. The world’s largest axe throwing club, Bad Axe Throwing was founded in Ontario in 2014 by CEO Mario Zelaya and now has locations in 23 cities in the U.S. and Canada, including Indianapolis, Denver, Minneapolis, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Brooklyn. Guests that walk-in will use a common area for axe throwing with any other participants that have joined the walk- in session.

Walk-ins cost about $20, or you can register for group visits with a private lane online in advance, prices vary from $35.00–44.25.

Published June 5, 2018

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