Warning: if you feel a headache coming on, avoid getting anywhere near this joint (in fact, avoid the entire neighborhood.) While it’s been a few years since we put our initials in the Dig Dug and Burgertime games at the Castle Golf arcade, we can’t help but remember the natural high we felt when that little Pooka or Fygar took a boulder to the head, or when Chef Peter Pepper finally slammed home that fourth bun. Well, this is hardly the arcade of your pre-pubescent memories. Things have gotten way more advanced, way more realistic (no more being chased by six-foot hotdogs) and way more expensive. Remember when Dragon’s Lair was the only game that cost a dollar? I mean, even the gigantic Discs of Tron environmental version only cost fifty cents! Now everything shakes and rattles and bucks through the use of hydraulics and advanced diode doohickeys. For the pleasure of whiplash and extreme humiliation, one spends a couple bucks and gets a session shorter (and almost as frustrating) as the Phoebe Cates scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There’s nothing worse after a vigorous fake jet skiing race than to turn and see a twelve-year-old, punk kid snickering at you from beneath his Mets cap. Luckily ESPN Zone also has a couple bars to take the edge off, allowing drunken adults to mix with loitering children. Normally we wouldn’t think this was a good idea, but it’s obvious watching these kids kick the crap out of virtual boxing opponents that they can certainly handle themselves. We imagine the food here probably tastes a little like the deflated ball used in the soccer game on the top floor–as food is about as much of a draw here as it is on your typical transatlantic flight. [MF]

1472 Broadway