June 12, 2019 8 min to read
Big Al’s Silicon Valley Trip Report and Review
Category : Arcade Trip Report, Blog
Big Al’s Silicon Valley Review And Arcade Trip Report
There’s a new entertainment hub in the South Bay Area. Big Al’s is an arcade, restaurant, bar, bowling alley and lots more. Silicon Valley is lucky to have access to large arcades and having another option is a good thing. But how does Big Al’s stack up to the local competition? We visited Big Al’s in the opening week and once more since then. Read on to see our thoughts on how the newest arcade in the area competes with the old favorites with our Big Al’s Silicon Valley review.
How Is Big Al’s in Milpitas Different From The Other Arcades
On the surface, Big Al’s is pretty similar to Dave and Buster’s and Round 1 up in the Concord. However D and B lacks bowling, and Round 1 lacks a bar and restaurant. Big Al’s aims to check off everything you could want from an arcade and entertainment hub.
With that in mind remember we are arcade focused here at Games N Cranes so the main part of this review will be about the arcade and not all the other things they have to do at Big Al’s Milpitas.
A Big Shiny New Experience In Milpitas
There are a few things you’ll notice when you first arrive at Big Al’s. One is the sheer size of the building. It’s in a regular strip mall but as you walk up to the building and see the sheer size of the wood cabin style awning out front it makes you feel like you are going somewhere different.
Once inside the feeling carries over as the main lobby feels just as big with the high vaulted ceilings and customer service desk in the front to welcome you. The arcade is immediately on your left and one of the two bowling locations are on the right. With the restaurant being straight ahead.
Once you adjust to the size of the building and enter the arcade you quickly deflate a little as you realize the arcade is pretty small compared to the overall size of the building. To be honest it was pretty disappointing to see the size of the arcade. While outside I was set up for what I thought would be a pretty big arcade in an area that already has some pretty large arcades.
An Arcade That Has A Lot To Live Up To
Both the D and B location in Milpitas and the Round 1 up in Concord have pretty large arcades. With D and B being extremely large. I found it really surprising that this brand new location would have such a smaller arcade compared to the others. No matter what your reason is to visit Big Al’s if you are local to the area you will compare this arcade to the others in town. Unfortunately, at this time it is pretty lacking compared to the others. Let’s a quick look at what they have at the grand opening of Big Al’s:
When you first walk into the building you’ll see the arcade directly on your left. At the entrance is a large VR experience and the first bank of video games and some ticket games.
If you are a fan of skee ball type games then there’s an entire wall here for you. Along with Skee ball are some bowling lane games. This wall takes up a lot of space and while skee ball is great I’ve just never seen them all utilized at once so I feel like they could reduce the amount of these to add in some more variety in this arcade.
There is a little bit of variety in the arcade but overall it is pretty small. However, whatever type of arcade game you prefer there will be some options for you.
The Pros and Cons of Big Al’s Milpitas
A Variety of Experiences
While the arcade inside is somewhat small the entire place itself is huge. So no matter how big your group is there is likely something for everyone there. Along with the games and bowling, the bar and restaurant have plenty of TV’s for any live sporting events to watch as well as a surprising amount of food options.
Themed Bowling Choices
There are two separate sections for bowling. The first is to the right when you enter and it has more of a cosmic bowling feel. With black lights and neon everywhere. While the second bowling alley is towards the back of the building and has a more elegant club-like feel to it. The bowling is the same but ambiance really can change the feel depending on which room you are in.
Free Retro Games at the Bar
Next to the arcade is Big Al’s Boardroom which has free play of some bar games including some classic arcade games. As well as darts, cornhole, giant jenga, and scrabble. If you are looking for a break on your lunch hour then this place is great for that. As for classic arcade games, there’s pinball and come stand up arcade cabinets including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a couple The Simpsons arcade cabinets. On closer inspection, you’ll see they have emulators running in them so you’ll have a larger variety of games to choose from.
Multiple times during my day at Big Al’s staff came up to me and were very friendly and wanting to make sure I was having a good time. Part of that could have been because they just opened and it wasn’t very busy, but the friendly staff is really great.
If you enjoy this location and frequent it enough you can get MVP status. This will get you discounts on gameplay and other benefits. At the time of my visit how to get an MVP wasn’t an easy answer to get. I went on opening day so there were some hiccups which is okay within the first week. The MVP card page of Big Al’s website doesn’t do a good job of explaining the benefits either. ( At the time of this article’s publication, there is still generic placeholder text on the page.) The general idea that I got was all of your spend at the location is tracked and once you reach a certain spend you unlock MVP status. Food, bowling, arcade, and anything else there all counts towards your spend.
I was surprised at how many different items Big Al’s has at the redemption center. They seem to focus on a decent quality and variety of options. With a few bigger ticket items. The plushes stood out as decent quality as they were all licensed Mario and Sonic character plushes.
Competition is Good
With a few different large and established arcades in the area, some new options will help all locations provide a better arcade experience.
One of the first things you are going to notice is that the games are pretty expensive to play. There is the MVP status which gives you a discount but even then it’s still pretty pricey to play here. The actual cash price is displayed on the screen where you swipe your card both for regular and MVP. As of right now, there doesn’t seem to be any discount days here like at other locations. Ticket games prices are closer to average but the payouts are lower than other places in the area so that makes earning a decent number of tickets cost more.
- Prize Ticket Costs
The prizes are nice, but they sure are expensive. Plush items are 1,000 tickets which doesn’t seem like a lot until you try and earn that much. Outside of being able to consistently hit jackpots, it’ll take a decent amount of money and effort to put that many together. The higher value items like video game systems were very expensive so it will take a long time to save enough for large items.
- Arcade Size
As stated above the arcade is just small compared to others and the rest of this building.
- No Good Claw Machines
There is a rubber duck claw machine, but nothing else. I think as good as the plush are in the redemption center it would be great to have the chance to grab some at a claw machine with decent prizes. That is something that is really lacking in the Bay Area. The only standard claw machines with good prizes are scattered about on grocery store style locations. Outside of Round 1 in Concord which has plenty of Japanese style UFO machines.
- New Location Quirks
Being brand new means there will be issues with things not working as they should. Like the details of the MVP program. This should improve over time.
- Competition is Bad
Ultimately there are established large arcades in this area. So Big Al’s will always be compared to those others, which for certain people and event is a con for this location.
Big Al’s Silicon Valley Review Verdict
At this stage of Big Al’s in Milpitas, if you are going just for the arcade experience then there are better locations in the same city. Right now Dave and Buster’s in Milpitas is a better arcade, and it will be hard to beat. Big Al’s can compete if the pricing or ticket payout becomes more competitive even with the smaller arcade. Over time I think they will adjust machines and maybe offer promos. It’s worth it to keep an eye on this location and check in from time to time. If you want to go bowling or enjoy some decent classic games in a bar environment with the added bonus of some arcade games then this is the place to be.
We’ll continue to update with Big Al’s trip reports from here on out. Thanks for reading our review and let us know your own Big Al’s Milpitas review in the comments. Check out our other arcade posts like Zombie Snatcher and Marvel Content of Champions.