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Your old arcade and game shop hangouts


Pob
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If you're anything like me, some of your most vivid memories of being a kid will be the places you hung around and played video games.

 

These days the best gaming experience is in your on living room in front of your 4K TV, but in the olden days you had to venture out onto the streets to play the best games, whether they were arcade machines in chip shops, taxi ranks or, well, arcades; or computer game shops where you could try out games you couldn't afford on systems whose graphics were mindblowing.

 

List the places you fondly remember and maybe we'll find out some of us crossed paths all those years ago.

 

For me, the first game shop I frequented was JKL Computers, Windsor Street, in Uxbridge. It's where I bought my Speccy games and stood entranced by the 16 bit graphics on show in the ST and Amiga they had set up.

 

When I was a bit older I used to go to a short-lived place called Pro-Games in Ruislip Manor every spare moment. They sold naughty disk backup systems for the SNES and Mega Drive, and I remember when they got the Atari Jaguar in. The main draw was the Super Street Fighter II arcade cab (followed by SSF2T). A bunch of the regulars and staff were massive SF fans and we used to play it all day, spending all our pocket money.

 

Anyone else grow up in that area? There were a bunch of other game shops and arcade machine locations I used to frequent in the area but couldn't tell you the names.

 

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Concordia in Cramlington.
They had 2 arcade machines in the foyer. We would go there and play badminton or go trampolining or swimming or whatever, but the highlight was always playing on the coin ops afterwards.
They'd change the games now and again but my overriding memory is of mr heli (battle chopper) and superman side by side.

 

The Spanish city in Whitley Bay, didn't get to go there very often but it was so exciting when we did. Bit like a mini Blackpool, loads of arcades and shows and stuff.

 

Back then, it seemed like every shop, even your local newsagent would have a small range of the £1.99 and £2.99 speccy games, so I never really had a specific shop to go to, I was just badgering my mam in the chemists and stuff.

I remember getting Draconus as a treat one day for being brave at the dentists. Sat there chewing on my new brace, dribbling down my shirt and not even caring because I was a big dragon man.

 

There were always these couple of guys who sold knock off amiga disks at my local car boot sale. They didn't give a fuck, not even trying, no printed boxes or anything, just selling the loose disks with the names of the games scrawled on in marker pen, a few magazines laid out so you could check out some reviews of the games before you bought them. Fucking magic!

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I remember cycling with friends to Olympia Amusements in Lee on the Solent. Generally played Star Wars, Track and Field, Pole Position and Buck Rogers. Remember being dazzled by Outrun and not understanding the fuss being made over Astron Belt.

 

Around this time I had a 2600 with only a few games and all of these would have been gifts probably bought from Boots or Dixons in Fareham. On occasion I would look in Woolworths, but I always got distracted by how stunning the Colecovision looked in comparison.

 

The first machine I had where I regularly bought games for myself was a Spectrum. My games usually came from Boots, WH Smith or a tiny shop on West Street named Electroniquip. We would always go up to the Spectrum on display and punch in that tiny bit of code that made it look like a game was loading. We were so funny.

 

Later when I had a SNES and then N64, I would always go to Ross Records in Portsmouth which may still be there. Still remember paying £70 for Streetfighter II Turbo. Also remember ordering games over the phone from Special Reserve.

 

Can’t say I would really hang around the shops or arcade, they were always destinations with a purpose. Once we had finished playing or bought what we wanted we left.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Pob said:

If you're anything like me, some of your most vivid memories of being a kid will be the places you hung around and played video games.

 

These days the best gaming experience is in your on living room in front of your 4K TV, but in the olden days you had to venture out onto the streets to play the best games, whether they were arcade machines in chip shops, taxi ranks or, well, arcades; or computer game shops where you could try out games you couldn't afford on systems whose graphics were mindblowing.

 

List the places you fondly remember and maybe we'll find out some of us crossed paths all those years ago.

 

For me, the first game shop I frequented was JKL Computers, Windsor Street, in Uxbridge. It's where I bought my Speccy games and stood entranced by the 16 bit graphics on show in the ST and Amiga they had set up.

 

When I was a bit older I used to go to a short-lived place called Pro-Games in Ruislip Manor every spare moment. They sold naughty disk backup systems for the SNES and Mega Drive, and I remember when they got the Atari Jaguar in. The main draw was the Super Street Fighter II arcade cab (followed by SSF2T). A bunch of the regulars and staff were massive SF fans and we used to play it all day, spending all our pocket money.

 

Anyone else grow up in that area? There were a bunch of other game shops and arcade machine locations I used to frequent in the area but couldn't tell you the names.

 

 

I grew up in that area, but a bit too young to remember those stores!

 

There was a store (can't remember the name) in the Pavilions in Uxbridge that I used to go quite a bit. At one point it had a LAN PC setup in an upstairs room that was great!

 

However, my one stand out memory was playing their demo unit of the original Xbox before it launched in the UK. It had a demo of Halo and I was hooked. I traded in my PS2 and got the Xbox at launch purely because of that demo.

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My teenage years were spent in Dublin - the city centre is quite small so there was at least 7 arcades within about ten minutes of each other. I can still remember the feel of each one, and my favorite games in each one - shinobi, robocop, 720, side arms, nemesis, r-type, bad dudes. Good times, to say the least. 

 

I also worked in the Namco Wonderpark in London for about 6 months in 1995. It was a wonderful arcade. It had Ridge Racer full scale, which has a real mx-5 you sat in to play the game, a full bank of 8 Daytona cabs, loads of pinball and fighting games in the basement. It was a shitty, low paid job but I absolutely loved working there, best job I ever had. 

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1 hour ago, Don Rosco said:

My teenage years were spent in Dublin - the city centre is quite small so there was at least 7 arcades within about ten minutes of each other. I can still remember the feel of each one, and my favorite games in each one - shinobi, robocop, 720, side arms, nemesis, r-type, bad dudes. Good times, to say the least. 

 

I'm from Dublin too, but if you were working in London in 95 you must be at least 10 years older than me. I'd love to hear more about what Dublin arcades were like in the early 90s etc.

 

By the time I was old enough to be going into town by myself/with friends, the only 3 I can think of were Dr Quirkeys on O Connell street, the one beside the cinema on Parnell Street and a small one near the side entrance of Cleary's on North Earl Street.

 

Dr Quirkey's was the main one. As a kid I was always in awe of the spinning Sega R-360 at the entrance. 

I remember going on the big bus shaped simulator thing they had (some sort of space rollercoaster that I thought was amazing at the time) and also riding bumper cars in the upstairs area (pretty impressive to have bumper cars in an arcade in town in hindsight).

When I was in college I played a whole lot of Outrun 2 there but soon after the games started being replaced by slot machines until there were none left.

 

The one beside the cinema, I don't remember much of what they had aside from Daytona USA and the Star Trek TNG pinball machine. I think(but not sure it wasn't somewhere else) they may have had those virtuality VR monstrosities back in the day.

 

All I remember about the North Earl Street place was that they had a few Neo Geo cabinets. Turned into a Chinese gambling den at some point.

 

Did any of the Dublin arcades have the sega hydraulic cabinets for Afterburner 2, Outrun etc? My only experience with them was in Mosney, never saw them around Dublin.

 

Do you remember what the game shop situation was like before Electronics Boutique and later Game/Gamestop homogenised all game retail in the city?

 

I remember going to a little shop on Cathal Brugha Street so my brother could buy c64 tapes when I was really young, but I guess it closed soon after and was long gone by the time I was in my teens etc. I got a lot of Dreamcast games in the Virgin Megastore at the Liffey but that closed when I was in my teens too. I guess hmv etc had games too, but there's nothing nostalgia worthy about buying ps1 games in hmv on Henry Street ;)

 

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I didn't really go to any arcades as a kid (apart from Sega World in Bournemouth which I went to once or twice and have big nostalgia memories of), but there was an Italian restaurant owned by a family we knew a few roads away, and any time we went there I'd always play the football arcade machine they had. I've never been able to remember the game that it was, but it might have been Super Sidekicks 2, that looks very familiar to what I remember.

 

W47xBjC.jpg

 

I did however go to game shops quite a bit. Total Entertainment in Bournemouth (Charminster) is the one I miss the most, it was just round the corner and I got quite a lot of my SNES games from there. It was a fun place to look around for a while. One thing I think of nearly any time I think about it was that I have a feeling the guy that was in there most of the time looked like Dave Grohl. He probably didn't look anything like him, but my memories are that he definitely did!

 

FdR09a1.jpg

 

Software Box in Poole, and also Electronics Boutique in Poole, which later became a Game, are some more that I went to quite a bit. One of my best game related memories is waiting for my mum to pick my copy of Goldeneye up while I was at school that day, I couldn't wait to get home and play it. There was also Gamestation in Poole than was a couple of years later that the others, but I went in there loads. Video Game Centre in Winton was another that was just a couple of miles away, I didn't go there any where near as often as I'd like to have done thinking back about it and seeing all the pictures from the Facebook page.

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@Olly88I'm pretty sure I used to go to that Video Game Centre in Winton, as well as another small shop at the other end of Winton high street (or maybe that was Charminster) when I was at Bournemouth uni in the late 90s. I remember buying a lot of PS1 and N64 stuff there.

 

Back home, we had Spa Computer Centre in Leamington Spa when I was a kid. Not much of a game shop, really, but it always had some Master System games and then the early Megadrive stuff. A few years later, in the SNES days, there were places that sold import games in Coventry and Birmingham. I can't remember the names.

 

Arcades: there was a decent one in Birmingham on New Street. It was all fruit machines on the ground floor, but go to the basement and there was a good selection of stand-up cabinets. This would have been early 90s. I remember seeing Final Fight down there for the first time and being amazed by it.

 

Other than that, it was a case of waiting for the local fair to come round once a year or getting a chance to tour the arcades while on holiday. We generally went to South Devon and would get a day in Paignton. 

 

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I used to love going in an Arcade, the smell of hot electronics, sticky carpet, loved it.

 

Maidstone (Kent) used to have two Arcades at one point.  The original one had fruities on one side and games on the other.  Robocop, Chase HQ, Tetris, Outrun, the moving Thunderblade, great stuff.  They also had a 16+ only policy cos of the fruities, but this was very dependent on the mood of the Doorman.  They closed it and it became a Sports Bar which reopened with different names a few times before closing for good a few years ago

 

The other one was only around a few years.  No carpet or other niceties, just cabs all round the room.  That closed down and was empty for years before becoming a Chinese restaurant.

 

Also went to the Trocodero a few times.  That was fun, mainly because they had a load of pinball tables.

 

But my main arcade memory is of the one at Devon Cliffs holiday park, near Exmouth.  Went there every year for 10 years and that arcade had everything you could want.  720, cockpit Star Wars, Gauntlet, R-Type, Indiana Jones.  Wonderful.  Spent so much money in that place.  I’d hate to go back now as I know it’s gone and just filled with grab machines and ticket games. I might get lucky and find the new on rails Star Wars game or Mario Kart, but it’s not the same.

 

tl:dr - I’m old & remember proper arcades :blah:

Edited by Ivanho
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Just remembered that Maidstone used to have a few game shops.  My Dad bought an Amiga 500+ from the ‘serious’ place, that wouldn’t have anything to do with consoles.  Boots, John Menzies & Smiths had games sections during the Spectrum/Amstrad/C64 years, and I bought my Gameboy with Tetris & Mario from Boots.  There was also a couple of import type places when the Megadrive/SNES took hold.  All gone now with only Game left.  I’m sure there were others (we ended up with two Games at one point when they took someone over).  Part of the joy was just going in for mooch and seeing what was out.  Great days 8-)

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Hahah I recognise those Bournemouth shops, sad they are gone, seems they were long gone before I moved to Dorset.

 

Mine was Adams World in North Finchley use to hang out in there a lot and bought so many memorable games from there like Gunstar Heroes or Symphony of the Night. Tho the one I remember most was finding change down the back of the sofa and gathering enough to get the bus to Finchley and get Yie ar Kung Fu on the C64.

 

Arcade wise there was a newsagent also in Finchley that had King of Boxer that I used to play a lot with my cousin, and Barnet Fair used to have a good selection of Arcade games back in the day.

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I grew up in a town called Lurgan in NI. It had one video games shop called FC Fishing and tackle.  The name kind of gives it away.  Half the shop was computer games and the other half was a fishing shop.  In fairness to them they did take the video game element seriously. One wall was stacked with C64 and spectrum cassettes. Always tended to get the latest games and hardware in pretty quickly too.  If I recall correctly they had a demo station set up and you could play the snes and megadrive when they came out.

 

Spent a good bit of time there but the one downside was the smell.  It's never gonna be pleasent when you have a large, open, plastic bin full of maggots indoors.

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1 hour ago, Ivanho said:

But my main arcade memory is of the one at Devon Cliffs holiday park, near Exmouth.  Went there every year for 10 years and that arcade had everything you could want.  720, cockpit Star Wars, Gauntlet, R-Type, Indiana Jones.  Wonderful.  Spent so much money in that place.  I’d hate to go back now as I know it’s gone and just filled with grab machines and ticket games. I might get lucky and find the new on rails Star Wars game or Mario Kart, but it’s not the same.

 

tl:dr - I’m old & remember proper arcades :blah:

 

Devon Cliffs was brilliant, used to go on holiday with my aunty and uncle and cousin every year and being the little nerd I was the arcades were totally the highlight for me, living out in the sticks the arcade action around my was was severely lacking so this annual trip to one of the various holiday parks was so good.

 

Apart from that it was the rare daytrip to Weston Super Mare until I was old enough to head into Bristol with my mates and head to Mad Harrys.

 

There was for the briefest of times a small arcade in the next town over but it was short lived and full of bigger boys :lol:

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9 hours ago, jimmmUK said:

 

I grew up in that area, but a bit too young to remember those stores!

 

There was a store (can't remember the name) in the Pavilions in Uxbridge that I used to go quite a bit. At one point it had a LAN PC setup in an upstairs room that was great!

 

However, my one stand out memory was playing their demo unit of the original Xbox before it launched in the UK. It had a demo of Halo and I was hooked. I traded in my PS2 and got the Xbox at launch purely because of that demo.

 

Ooh, a LAN cafe in Uxbridge? I never found that - must've been just the wrong time. I remember a game shop in the Pavilions near MVC where I played Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo on their 3DO, and latterly their Street Fighter Alpha arcade cab. This was the PS1 era. I also remember playing Halo on an Xbox demo pod in Electronics Boutique/GAME in the Pavilions but would've loved the LAN setup around the year 2000.

 

4 hours ago, Olly88 said:

Software Box in Poole, and also Electronics Boutique in Poole, which later became a Game, are some more that I went to quite a bit. One of my best game related memories is waiting for my mum to pick my copy of Goldeneye up while I was at school that day, I couldn't wait to get home and play it. There was also Gamestation in Poole than was a couple of years later that the others, but I went in there loads. Video Game Centre in Winton was another that was just a couple of miles away, I didn't go there any where near as often as I'd like to have done thinking back about it and seeing all the pictures from the Facebook page.

 

There was an amazing arcade in Poole harbour. I went there loads around 90-92 as my aunt lived down there. It was the first arcade where I played Street Fighter 2, so will always be a special place to me.

 

37 minutes ago, PeteBrant said:

North Harrow Bowling alley generally.

 

I went to school in that area and remember that bowling alley. There was also a leisure centre around there which had an actual arcade room.

 

Do you remember the computer game shop on Station Road in Harrow, near the old cinema and model shop? Opposite where Games Workshop opened up? That was a great place.

 

7 hours ago, Don Rosco said:

My teenage years were spent in Dublin - the city centre is quite small so there was at least 7 arcades within about ten minutes of each other. I can still remember the feel of each one, and my favorite games in each one - shinobi, robocop, 720, side arms, nemesis, r-type, bad dudes. Good times, to say the least. 

 

I also worked in the Namco Wonderpark in London for about 6 months in 1995. It was a wonderful arcade. It had Ridge Racer full scale, which has a real mx-5 you sat in to play the game, a full bank of 8 Daytona cabs, loads of pinball and fighting games in the basement. It was a shitty, low paid job but I absolutely loved working there, best job I ever had. 

 

7 arcades! For some reason in England during that period arcades that allowed under 18s could only be found by the seaside. There was nothing like that near me except for a place in Southall, which I made my dad take me to a couple of times, but it's pretty rough round there. 

 

I remember the MX-5 Ridge Racer in the Trocadero. At the time I remember thinking the game was basically indistinguishable from real life. Ha.

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9 minutes ago, Pob said:

 

 

 

 

I went to school in that area and remember that bowling alley. There was also a leisure centre around there which had an actual arcade room.

 

Do you remember the computer game shop on Station Road in Harrow, near the old cinema and model shop? Opposite where Games Workshop opened up? That was a great place.

 

Harrow Leisure centre had a few games, but the Bowling Alley was probably the best place. Then when St Annes shopping centre opened in around 1994 they had a whole floor which was an arcade - Was fairly short lived though.

 

Ha yeah I remember that shop. I bought Blue Max for the C64 in there in 1983

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50 minutes ago, Gringo said:

I grew up in a town called Lurgan in NI. It had one video games shop called FC Fishing and tackle.  The name kind of gives it away.  Half the shop was computer games and the other half was a fishing shop.  In fairness to them they did take the video game element seriously. One wall was stacked with C64 and spectrum cassettes. Always tended to get the latest games and hardware in pretty quickly too.  If I recall correctly they had a demo station set up and you could play the snes and megadrive when they came out.

 

Spent a good bit of time there but the one downside was the smell.  It's never gonna be pleasent when you have a large, open, plastic bin full of maggots indoors.

That shop originally started out in Market Lane in the shopping centre (now Rushmere), but they got kicked out after a maggot malfunction closed down that whole section of the centre for weeks!

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One of the big reasons I got so into games was ALG Video in Wandsworth (Merton Road).

 

The guy who owned it used to rent out import games and hardware, so me and my bro spent a lot of time there drooling over Neo-Geo's and PC Engines (man, the GT was so damned hot).

 

I rented the US import of Zelda Link to the Past and played about 14 hours before having to reluctantly return it. I didn;t manage to complete that game till it came out on the GBA!

 

There was also an arcade that opened nearby around 89/90 that used to charge by the hour and once inside all the games were free. Didn't last long, but we had a blast there.

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Just now, PeteBrant said:

Harrow Leisure centre had a few games, but the Bowling Alley was probably the best place. Then when St Annes shopping centre opened in around 1994 they had a whole floor which was an arcade - Was fairly short lived though.

 

Ha yeah I remember that shop. I bought Blue Max for the C64 in there in 1983

Strange I didn't go to the bowling alley more often then. I guess Harrow on the Hill was more of an epicentre for me, rather than North Harrow.

 

Oh yeah, I remember that St Anne's arcade. I went there a few times during the day when I was in sixth form. Also, Debenhams in Harrow randomly had a huge arcade in it around the same time. I remember playing X-Men vs Street Fighter and the Sega Star Wars Arcade game (the one that ended up on the 32X).

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Just now, Pob said:

Strange I didn't go to the bowling alley more often then. I guess Harrow on the Hill was more of an epicentre for me, rather than North Harrow.

 

Oh yeah, I remember that St Anne's arcade. I went there a few times during the day when I was in sixth form. Also, Debenhams in Harrow randomly had a huge arcade in it around the same time. I remember playing X-Men vs Street Fighter and the Sega Star Wars Arcade game (the one that ended up on the 32X).

Of course the other big events that meant arcade action were Pinner fair and Roses fair in Eastcote.

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Did anyone frequent Erol Computers in Walthamstow? East 17 were regular patrons, apparently. My best mate's dad was the owner (the titular Erol). He used to get all the latest consoles and games to bring home and try out, lucky git.

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There were two shops that I can remember going to, one was called the Village i think and was in Shortlands, Bromley.  That's where I would buy my Atari ST games.  Then there was one in Shirley, I can't remember what it was called, it was down a side road and I used to trade my Lynx carts there.  I remember it being a mission to get there from Crystal Palace.  It was two buses and felt like hours, in reality I could have driven it in 20 mins.

 

My uncle was a games developer in the 80s, working for Beyond/Firebird/Rainbird and a couple of times he took me up to the arcade in London, don't know what it was called or where it was, but there can't have been many.  He would give me a bag of 10p's and tell me to go test out all the games and tell him what I thought.  Great times.

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Oh my, I just remembered one of my main "gaming" hangouts was the top floor of Debenhams in Gloucester which was the toy section and they had a NES demo unit up there and being a bit out of the way I'd just go up there when my mum was shopping and try and get a little further with each go on the timed demos.

 

Living in the sticks wasn't easy for a gamer back in the day.

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1 hour ago, Melon_Bread said:

Adams World in North Finchley

 

Yeah, we rented near North Finchley in the 80s, and that was one of my hangouts in the 16-bit days. Also the Games centre in Hammersmith when I rented in West London - guy who owned it also designed and published board games, as well as selling them in his shop. Nice guy to chat to.

 

My school used to have annual day trips to Blackpool in the early days of videogames - I have early gaming memories of playing 2-player Boot Hill and Space Wars against my mates there. Plus a bunch of electro-mechanical UFO shooting games, before vidoegames really took off.

 

Then the London arcades in the mid-80s; there was a small one on Tottenham Court Road up near Goodge street, had some decent games; plus a big one near Leicester Square, possibly in Chinatown - that would have the big hydraulic cabinets for Afterburner, Outrun, Space harrier and the like. Also visiting various student union bars, which would usually have a couple of decent pinball tables as well as videogame cabs, back in the day...

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Pour one out / Press 'f' / Thoughts and prayers to the following:

 

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I'll never forget those 3rd Strike , Tekken 5 and Time Crisis days. 

 

 

7 hours ago, partious said:

 

I'm from Dublin too, but if you were working in London in 95 you must be at least 10 years older than me. I'd love to hear more about what Dublin arcades were like in the early 90s etc.

 

Just off Talbot St, was this little mecca

 

image.png.9eb62fd7363ed11122bc0900a806a56c.png

 

As a kid, this was the first place I played or even saw Alpha 2, which I would sit on or next to for hours (watching the better players play), while my older cousin would play a pool game where winning rounds would cause an anime girl to lose a piece of clothing. Great collection of pinball machines as well.

 

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