We've all got at least a little bit of geek or nerd inside of us, and nothing brings it out quite like Phoenix Fan Fusion, which is returning to the Phoenix Convention Center on Memorial Day weekend 2022.
The May 27-29 convention, described on its website as "your local, fan- and geek-driven, large-scale, multi-genre, pop-culture convention," was formerly known as Phoenix Comicon and Phoenix Comic Fest.
For geeks, there's nothing better than being surrounded by people with similar passions and interests in movies, games and comic books. So after a fun-filled day of seeing your favorite characters, authors and actors, we suggest heading to one of these nerdy sanctuaries around metro Phoenix.
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Some serve alcohol, because it's fun to drink a little while playing a vintage Sega Genesis, while others are great for sipping an espresso while perusing comic books or learning to play tabletop games with fellow adventurers.
From shops to bars to gaming destinations, these are the best, geek-approved places in the Valley.
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Cobra Arcade Bar
The bar has 40 arcade games — from Marvel vs. Capcom and Galaga to Donkey Kong and Mortal Kombat — each costing 25 cents to $1 a play — and a bar menu with video game-inspired cocktails like Inky's Drinky. Cobra Arcade Bar is a 21-and-up bar located in downtown Phoenix open late nights and weekends.
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A few doors down from Cobra Arcade Bar is Hi-Score Club, an anime-themed bar that features imported arcade games and manga artwork by local artists. Hi-Score Club has drinks named after iconic anime characters including "Bebop," "Chi-Chi" and "Master Roshi." The venue opens at 7 p.m. and features local DJs beginning at 9 p.m.
If you want to take a step back in time but don’t have a DeLorean, Collectors Marketplace has you covered. The Phoenix store has thousands of toys and trinkets that you probably haven’t seen since the '80s, like those singing California Raisins.
The store looks small on the outside but it’s packed with anime figurines, posters, comic books, plushies, video games and Pokémon cards. There’s also an entire room filled with Funko Pop collectibles.
Details: 1945 E. Indian School Road. Phoenix. 480-442-1117, collectorsmarketplace.com.
Phoenix Gaming Lounge
This small venue is dedicated to tabletop gaming, primarily Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other analog board games.
It usually hosts daily games. The lounge also sells Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering cards online. New inventory is announced on Facebook.
Details: 4747 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-266-8180, facebook.com/PhoenixGamingLounge.
All About Books and Comics
After nearly four decades this brick-and-mortar comic book store closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, comic books are still for sale with bags of 50 comics selling for $60 online with free shipping. Pick a character and you will receive a bag of comic books in which they appear. Characters include Nightwing, Iron Man, Captain America, Punisher and more.
Cult Classics Arizona
Cult Classics is back following a pause of in-person events during the pandemic. Every month a group of film geeks descend on Landmark Scottsdale Quarter Theatre to watch screenings of cult classics, like "The Return of the Living Dead" and "The Crow." Check the website for upcoming screenings and other meetups.
Desert Sky Games and Comics
This store used to have multiple locations, but has consolidated to one central location in Chandler. With a focus on tabletop and card games, video games and comics, it's a hub for all your tabletop gear needs from dice to cards.
After four years of rebuilding, Endgame is back and open in Mesa. The gaming lounge, bar and restaurant has classic and new games to play on everything from Sega Genesis to Nintendo Switch with more than 700 video game titles to choose from. The venue also hosts gaming tournaments. Pick a game, grab a button smasher mojito and some Tekken skewers and settle in for the night.
Details: 1233 S. Alma School Road, Mesa. 480-331-1809. endgamebar.com.
The Gaming Zone
Find a wide selection of new and retro video games and third-party accessories at The Gaming Zone. Players can also sell their unwanted games here. The store has locations in Tempe and Gilbert.
Details: Tempe: 930 W. Broadway Road, 480-245-6357. Gilbert: 425 W. Guadalupe Road., 480-590-0706. facebook.com/thegamingzoneaz.
Gotham City Comics and Collectibles
You'll be greeted by Krampus when you enter Gotham City Comics in downtown Mesa, They offer a huge selection of comics and film memorabilia and the shop hosts in-store celebrity signings.
Details: 46 W. Main St., Mesa. 480-649-3065, facebook.com/gothamcitycomics.
The Grid: Games and Growlers
This Mesa arcade bar is home to a lineup of over 600 video games, from vintage to contemporary, including Atari, pinball, arcade games and board games. The bar has a selection of bottles, cans and craft beer on tap along with a menu of snacks.
Through a city sanctioned e-sports program, Maricopa Esports hosts weekly video game tournaments, known as Versus Challenges. Up to 10 players can participate within the facility. Maricopa’s director of community service, Nathan Ullyot said the program aims to provide a place where gamers come play together safely. To play at Maricopa Esports, a membership is required. Memberships are $25 a month or $250 for the year.
Polar Bear's Pop Culture Shop
Need more action figures? There’s a new store for that. Polar Bear's Pop Culture Shop has hundreds of toys and collectibles from DC to Marvel. You can also trade or sell your vintage gaming systems, Pokémon cards and action figures at the shop. While the front of the store is filled with figures, in the back you’ll find vinyl records, books and clothing.
Details: 2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe. 602-918-9654. facebook.com/Polarbearspopcultureshop.
This all-ages arcade is open on Fridays and Saturdays and has more than 45 pinball machines and over 115 classic video arcade games. Gamers need to purchase a membership of either $11 per day or $35 per month for unlimited play. The monthly option lets the holder bring two guests for free.
Details: 4840 East Jasmine St., Suite 102, Mesa. 480-688-0356, starfightersarcade.com.
Player 1 Arcade
Grab some coins and play your favorite games from the '80s and '90s at the Player 1 Arcade in Surprise. The arcade has a selection of pinball machines and also serves wine and beer. Games rotate in and out of the arcade on a monthly basis. You can also submit an online request if you want to play a particular game at the arcade.
Details: 17239 N. Litchfield Road. Surprise. 623-248-4940. p1arcade.com.
Carousel Arcade Bar
Located in Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District, the bar and restaurant has pinball machines, video games and arcade games including basketball and boxing machines and air hockey tables.
Along with these entertainment options, Carousel also offers brunch, lunch and dinner with a wide selection of shareable appetizers and burgers. Creative desserts include a basket of fried candy bars and a confetti milkshake topped with a slice of cake and a sprinkle rim.
Details: 6770 N. Sunrise Blvd., Suite G111, Glendale. 623-877-9777, carouselarcadebar.com.
What to drink at Carousel: Go for Skee-Ball, stay for the Freakshow Old Fashioned
Play Or Draw
This game store claims to have the largest selection of Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Warhammer in the Valley. The shop also has a play area where gamers can get together for Commander League and Yu-Gi-Oh!
Details: 965 E. Van Buren St., Avondale. 623-500-1668, playordrawgaming.com.
Drawn to Comics
This locally owned store sells comic books, collectibles, action figures, games, T-shirts, posters and prints. Owner Ken Brown prides himself on running "Arizona's friendliest comic store," where a familial atmosphere makes the store's 2,000 square feet seem small.
Imperial Outpost Games
Imperial carries all things tabletop, RPG, miniatures and non-collectible card gaming. It’s a popular spot for the Unnamed Association of Gamers, a Phoenix board-gaming club.
Formerly known as ManaWerx, Amazing Discoveries sells board games, comics, miniatures, role player games and tabletop games. The store has a wide selection of Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z and Pathfinder card packs and singles.
Details: 4340 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale. 602-761-2035, facebook.com/amazingmtggmw.
No matter what retro game or console you’re looking for, one of the many Fallout Games locations likely has it. From Atari and GameBoy to Nintendo DS and Switch, the store has a huge selection of used video games and accessories. You can also sell or trade games at the locations in Tempe, Mesa and two locations in north Phoenix.
Details:1807 E. Southern Ave., Tempe. 480-838-1782. falloutgames.net.
The Phoenix location of this comic book shop is their largest, and is actually one of the largest in the country. The store also sells graphic novels, manga, anime, toys, collectibles and gaming supplies.
Details: 6808 N. Dysart Road, Suite 148, Glendale. 623-872-8886. Also 1602 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-265-8886. 1120 S. Country Club Drive, Suite 107, Mesa. 480-962-1123. facebook.com/samuraicomics.
Samantha Incorvaia contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Nerdy things to do in Phoenix after Fan Fusion: Arcade bars to comics