Just Shoot Me

Dave & Buster's Has 32,000 Square Feet of air-conditioned zombie-shooting, Jäger-shooting, skee-ball-shooting, and yeah, pretty good fried stuff too

Shooting bears was more of a downer: In Sega's Extreme Hunting 2, there seems to be an effort to make the bears look peaceful, loving, and adorable as they frolic with their cubs and families; for me, I really have no interest in shooting happy, frolicsome, loving bears. I kind of thought they'd be more like zombie bears. However, as someone who owns a home that horrible dumpster squirrels are constantly trying to gnaw into so they can deposit dumpster pizza, I really did enjoy a bonus round of shooting squirrels. I neglected to write down the name of the game in which I climbed into a round plastic ball and spent some time shooting asteroids and enemy spaceships, but that was grand too. When my trigger finger wore out from too much Red Bull-fueled electronic mayhem, I moved on to shooting basketball and skee-ball, and a half-skee-ball sort of steeplechase.

All the traditional midway games eject tickets proportionate to the degree of your success at said games, and, when you are done, you can take your tickets to be weighed and trade them in for any number of gimcracks and whoozigigs. I won't tell you how many tickets I amassed with my great skills, though I will reveal that it was far fewer than the 15,000 required to win an iPod, and many more than needed to score a "mini-frisbee," of which my date noted, "Yeah, I have those at home, they're called lids." Okay, okay, if you must know, I'll tell you. I got 200 points, and took home an ingenious device, which both holds keys and cleverly mimics sounds from the terminus of the digestive system; it's called "The Dr. Fart"—not Mr. Fart, not Dr. Fart, The Dr. Fart, and I'll tell you honestly, it has not failed to make an impression on anyone in my social set.

 

Take your best shot: Dave & Buster's offers plenty of targets, including your sobriety
Jayme Halbritter
Take your best shot: Dave & Buster's offers plenty of targets, including your sobriety

Not shooting:
There are some things at Dave & Buster's that have nothing to do with doing shots or shooting, but I would argue they are tangential to the experience.

Like, they totally have food.

However, after eating a bunch of it, I would say that only a fool would order food at Dave & Buster's that doesn't come with a game card. Happily, most of the good stuff does. For instance, if you go to Dave & Buster's any time at all except Friday or Saturday night after 5:00 p.m., you can get a $20 game card with any of eight entrees for $23.99 (a $20 game card on its own usually costs $22, because you pay two bucks for the refillable card itself. (You can also get a $10 game card, for $15.99, but why, once you've come all this way?)

Among the best game-card options is the fried shrimp and fries, which really is good stuff—the shrimp are frothily breaded and light as air, rivaling the best local tempura shrimp, and the fries are fine. The cheesesteak is another game-card entree, and it's truly good—I mean that. The ingredients, said my server, are all imported from Philadelphia, and they were indeed just right: The meat was dark, heavy, and devourable in the exact way that only razor-thin beef griddled hard with onions can be, and the bun that enclosed the onions, peppers, gooey cheese, and beef was soft enough to smash the filling into but resilient enough not to disappear beneath the strong flavors. I have been, on and off for the last 10 years, working on finding the best Philly cheesesteak in Minnesota, and this one is definitely in the running. Whatever you do, however, do not get drunk enough that you think it's funny to order the Philly Steak Rolls ($7.99), which are egg-roll casings filled with thin sliced beef. They taste like grease made flesh—they were the one thing in Dave & Buster's that needed shooting that didn't get shot.

All in all, I had a lot of fun at Dave & Buster's, but that is only because my heart has many mansions, and within it there is evidently quite a bit of room for stupid drinks and shooting zombies. Essentially, it's $30 or $40 for a couple of hours of air-conditioned diversion; it's a little trip to Vegas hard by I-94; it's 32,000 square feet of games where very nice servers will find you by whatever it is you're shooting, and bring you a ridiculous drink—or, you know, a perfectly normal beer. In short: It is what it is. However, on days when it's both the heat and the humidity, and the prison where you hang your hat is closing in, sometimes a little shooting spree is entirely necessary.

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