McALLEN — Summer is officially here and with the season comes Texas’ notoriously high temperatures that have people scrambling for shade and air conditioning. But what better way to beat the heat than to stay indoors playing video games.
Kaboom Comics & Collectibles on 10th Street in McAllen is opening its arcade to the public for free for the summer in celebration of 11 years of being in business.
Beyond the plentiful comic books and collectibles encompassing the store lies a room full of arcade nostalgia.
Guests are greeted by fluorescent paint-splattered walls illuminated by black lights and the bleeps, bloops and iconic sounds from classic arcade games such as Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga and fighting game favorites like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II.
Kaboom has also recently added three new arcade cabinets, one of which is a Nintendo Play Choice which allows you to play up to 10 classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Double Dragon.
A few of the cabinets are also multi-cades, which are machines that hold up to 1,300 games so players can choose from a variety of classic arcade games, hidden gems and games that were never imported to the U.S.
“This is kind of a way to give back as a thank you to this community for helping us achieve this, for helping us get here,” Ramsey Ramirez, owner of Kaboom Comics and Anime Boom, said. “Hopefully we attract kids to the arcade and then get them into reading comics.
“I think that helped me with reading in school and I think that’s something kids stuck at home … are missing out on. If we could help facilitate that, I think that would be great.”
In 2010, when Ramirez had first opened Kaboom Comics on Pecan Boulevard, the current location of Anime Boom, he financed his business by working as an art teacher at IDEA Public Schools.
His passion for arcade cabinets stems from his father’s old convenience store where several games were lined up for the local kids and customers to play.
The man who would visit to collect the quarters accumulated by the machines would sometimes add credits to the cabinets so a young Ramsey could play some of his favorites, like Atari’s classic Tempest.
Nostalgia is the driving force behind Ramirez’s success.
Ramirez often repairs his arcade cabinets on his own but sometimes hires friends or outside sources when he is unable to fix an issue in order to make them look and feel as original as possible, the perfect analogy for his current goals and aspirations.
“In a couple of years, what I really envision is for you to walk into this place and all the machines look brand new … like if you’re walking into an arcade in the 80s or 90s,” Ramirez said. “I want all the marquees lit up, I want all the coin ops lit up, I want all the imperfections fixed so it looks like you’re walking into the past.”