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Your arcade memories.


dumpster
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In Whitley Bay around 2000 you had the Spanish City fun fair and all of your standard Blackpool style amusements. But if you went up round the back there was an old arcade full of machines that were 10/20p to play. I’m talking Outrun, Super Skidmarks, Simpsons, Scud Race etc.

 

Loved that place.

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I grew up in Southport, so had a wealth of arcades to visit. Which I did, a lot. From the mid-to-late eighties until the late nineties.

 

Blackpool was definitely the king of the region for the likes of full-scale Ridge, 8-player Virtua Racing/Daytona and Afterburner G360 or whatever it's called, so you'd go there occasionally for the larger scale stuff (although it was a 90 minute drive).

 

Southport served me amazingly in every other respect - you could pretty much find everything standard cab-based if you knew where to look.

 

We had the larger/busier places on the main streets, running from the town centre to the promenade. The likes of the full-size Pit Fighter (as shit as it is, it was novel at the time) and Dragon's Liar. Remember playing a lot of the 6 game Neo Geo cab in some of the venues in that area.

 

I always preferred the arcades on one of the side street/walks, especially a place called the Lucky Seven. It was the beat 'em up palace. If Capcom had a new game out, you would most likely discover it there.

 

The excitement when you walked through the doors and saw a small crowd around a machine further in, walking up and wondering what it would be. Every Street Fighter I first played in that place. Final Fight, Konami 4-player side-scrollers, they saw them all at some stage.

 

You could also venture further past the prom and visit Southport Pleasureland. It was (is) a fairly average fairground, but had some great places tucked away. A lot of gun/peripheral-based Sega/Namco games around that area, but I do remember it was the first time I played Virtua Fighter and Ridge (the sit-down gear stick one, not the big boy car version).

 

Just so many brilliant memories of arcades during that era. It feels like I grew up in arcades, smoking cigs, hanging about watching others play, getting challenged on SF. The cacophony of all of the different games, mixed in with a smattering of fruities, the smell/stench, the sticky carpets, the low smoke hanging in the air, sketchy characters. An experience I don't really think you can find anymore outside of some gentlemen's clubs.

 

Visiting some of these places now is obviously a bit sad. Lucky Seven is not there at all anymore, or any other arcade down that stretch. The ones on the main streets have mostly gambling machines in them and the ones around Pleasureland a mix of those and some older cabinets. Makes me feel like an old man, wistfully staring at the site of the old ice rink or bandstand.

 

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2 hours ago, dumpster said:

I always loved the arcade, from Pengo and PAC Man in the 80 Arcades. But in the 90s, Arcades were home to constant innovation, something amazing and new every time you went.


I worked in Namco wonder park on Shaftesbury ave in 1995. Incredible arcade packed full of what you’re describing. Full size car ridge racer, time crisis, that namco skiing game.  Some Konami thing, maybe like wipeout, that span around? Wonderful stuff. 

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6 hours ago, Don Rosco said:


I worked in Namco wonder park on Shaftesbury ave in 1995. Incredible arcade packed full of what you’re describing. Full size car ridge racer, time crisis, that namco skiing game.  Some Konami thing, maybe like wipeout, that span around? Wonderful stuff. 

Ooo you lucky swine….

I loved that place. I think there were also machines that gave out tickets there right?  I’ve still got a glass Marvin the Martian tankard from there. Well until my wife put it in the dishwasher. Now it’s just a plain glass tankard…

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7 hours ago, Don Rosco said:


I worked in Namco wonder park on Shaftesbury ave in 1995. Incredible arcade packed full of what you’re describing. Full size car ridge racer, time crisis, that namco skiing game.  Some Konami thing, maybe like wipeout, that span around? Wonderful stuff. 

You worked there?  Awesome.  I remember going there a number of times when visiting the West End.  I still remember a lot about the layout, and the games they had there.

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1 hour ago, Dr Nookie said:

I loved that place. I think there were also machines that gave out tickets there right?

 

Yep, they had a section of ticket type things also. A sign of things to come :( 

 

But then they also had 6 or 8 daytona cabs, all the hardcore fighters and other cabs downstairs, pinball...the staff kitchen was the first place I saw Edge in the wild as well. I loved that shitty job! 

 

That said, my favourite memory of the place was the time the boss told me and another guy to go round central London giving out flyers with a free game. The other guy was a nice but extremely dour & miserable Scotsman. We sacked off the work and he brought me to the National Gallery. Turns out he was an art lover - he took me to see the Van Gogh sunflowers painting there and i'll never forget how completely transformed he was as he described the painting and how it made it him feel. It honestly opened a whole new cultural world for me and i'm very grateful to him. 

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I'm from Great Yarmouth so the arcades were just part of the landscape. I feel quite privileged to have been on the scene during the glory days.

Early favourite games were the likes of Pac Man and Phoenix and I have vivid memories of Bezerk! with its classic 'Intruder Alert' speech blasting down the corridor in the Marina Centre.

Each year would bring exciting new machines. I have so many memories of seeing new games for the first time. When the Tron cabinets were released they just looked so amazing, with the glowing controls. Spy Hunter with its Knight Rider-esque steering wheel and that amazing music. Out-Run where you could actually select your own background music! 

I think the biggest wow moment though, was when I first clapped eyes on the deluxe Space Harrier machine. That thing was just amazing. Not just the fact that the whole thing moved as you played but the awesome sound and speech and the bizarre art direction. No home version has ever been able to capture the thrill of playing that thing the way it was supposed to be played. When it said 'Get Ready' you really did feel like you had to take a deep breath.

Yarmouth was a great place to be in the 80s and early 90s. We seemed to get everything going game-wise as we had so many arcades along the sea front and also at the local holiday parks, cafes, pubs etc. If a game made it to the UK you could almost guarantee it would make it to Yarmouth.

 

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I was born around the mid 80s so I feel like I missed out on the best moments of arcade gaming. That said, I’m sure I remember at least seeing Space Harrier, SFII and Outrun cabinets even if I was still young. Even as late as the 90s there would be competitions in gaming magazines to “win a Street Fighter II cabinet” so they definitely remained a popular attraction. I do know that most of what I saw had lots of colour and nice big sprites - we didn’t see many things like Donkey Kong or Galaga unless it was a home version for the C64.

 

It was still a wild and exciting time and I was in full nerd mode at that age, so the highlight of a seaside holiday might be the opportunity to play Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker or - much later - a Beatmania machine. I wasn’t around to see the humble origins of the arcade, and I’ve never lived anywhere with an arcade that can be called “local”, but I did see them fade away once the home consoles started catching up. Cabinets made way for coin-pushers and slot machines, and the last time I saw a proper selection of arcade games was when Weston-super-mare’s Grand Pier was rebuilt.

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4 hours ago, jonamok said:

The summer of 1987 was largely spent in the arcade opposite Lime St. station’s side exit. Put way too much into Space Harrier and 4-player Gauntlet.

I remember them getting Cyber Sled in there and I whigged out, excitedly phoning my mate and telling him to drop everything and get his arse down as they had 'virtual reality'.

 

He set me straight that it was 3D and "not fucking virtual reality" after he indeed dropped everything and got his arse down. I was newly back into games and hadn't yet bought my first copy of Edge to get the knowledge. We had a good few games against each other, mind. Looked and sounded incredible at the time.

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I can only recall a couple, as I didn't really live anywhere that had decent arcades.

 

The first was during a school trip to London to visit the national gallery.

Me and a friend hung around near the entrance till the teachers had disappeared, and then promptly left for a visit to trocadero. this was mainly for street fighter 2 and I can't really remember any other games that were there as street fighter was my life back then. What I do remember was the Alien War experience thing, which was awesome, as I had no idea such a thing existed before hand. We got a few suspicious looks at the end of the day, but got away with it fine.

 

Then onto University in Hatfield, we all used to hang out in a bar in the shopping centre, which had a small arcade next to it. I used to duck out every so often for a quick go on Time Crisis. I remember the first time I finished it being so shaky with nerves, it was exhausting! But after that I could pretty much do it every time. So whenever I was a bit bored of the noise/people I would just nip next door for a fifteen minute run through that. It was a pretty good little arcade, but I basically never touched anything else in there which seems like a waste now.

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I had a couple from my 20's.

 

- a bog standard arcade in the city Breda where I studied. Meeting point for class mates before, during and after school. Had the usual suspects such as Mortal Kombat 2 and 3, Daytona (4 seater), Virtua Cop etc.

- in Rotterdam there was this typical smokers hole. The ground floor was nicely lit as the casino was located there, underground were the Capcom fighting games. Barely any lights and filled with smoke. Also a ton of piracy during the PS1 days, there was a local "shop" that got like pallets full of discs straight from China.

- Scheveningen (next to The Hague) had (maybe still has) a massive collection of proper big boy arcade cabinets. Like 8 cabinets of Killer Instinct 2 the day it came out, Tekken 3, 8-seater Daytona USA, 8-seater Daytona USA 2, dozens of those 2d fighters (think SNK-esque), Mortal Kombat, plethora of Raiden-esque games. It was a full day out.

- In Vlissingen there's still an arcade that focusses more of the entire family. As in, not just video games but at least one large floor filled with those ticket games from Namco. Collect 1000 tickets and win a small bouncing ball. Great for the kids while the parents eat and drink at the local bar.

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It all started with a day on the beach at Camber Sands 1976 with my parents and my nan. The long, long, hot drought summer.  A visit to the Kit-Kat cafe on the beach saw my first sighting of a Pong Machine.  It was love at first sight. 

 

The Trading Post in Dartford,  the whole sea fronts of Margate  and Southend were frequently visited.  The machines that burnt into my formative years were Missile Command, Robotron and Asteroids. All classics I still play to this day.  The smell of stale cigarettes, the haze from the smoke, the Day-Glo neon, the sound of the Gorf machine imploring you to "Insert Coin"... halcyon days. It truly was an assault on the senses.  

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I can remember going to the cinema in Bromborough and they had a Virtuality machine (horrendous, gave me a headache!) and a Virtua Racing racecar cab which I was absolutely mesmerised by! Ate all my money that I was supposed to use for the actual film I was meant to see. Worth it!

 

I have a memory of a Ridge Racer Full Scale sat in some random motorway service station when we were heading down to see my brother when he was stationed at RAF Cosford. Again, absolutely stunned by the thing. Dad could have left me there for the weekend.

 

My student union (University of Liverpool) had a brilliant little arcade. Silent Scope, Virtua Striker 2, Marvel vs Capcom, Sega Rally 2 Player, Bust-a-Move 2 player sitdown cab, Time Crisis 2. Cracking way to spend the downtime between classes.

 

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I remember the very first time I played a game, in the clubhouse on holiday in Dawlish Warren stood on a chair 1978 "pressing fire" for my Uncle Ken on Space Invaders.
I said to him he has since reminded me that "one day I will buy one of these" and eventually I did (well a mame cab at any rate).
The next year same place on holiday I more or less lived in the little arcade there, Space Wars, Space Invaders, Asteroids,
Over the next few years (we went to Dawlish a lot!) they were everywhere, missile command, defender, joust pac-man, DK, Jump bug, moon patrol, Jungle Hunt, all the classics. This is why I love them and play them so much to this day
Well a very sad trip along to google streetmaps just to find the arcade that started it all for me in this state :( 
gb7mcxd.png

 

Back home (Blackcountry, midlands) there was next to nothing apart from the odd invaders in the working mens clubs my dad would drag me to but this place had some Hypersports, International Karate etc this was a lobby for a local cinema many years now gone. Was a second home and how I knew all the local "hard lads" wasting time away in a dingy arcade playing against them :)
It's taken me decades to find an actual photo of it!
NBoqpI1.png


Apart from that you needed to go to Brum, I'm sure any local folk that are into the hobby did the same and went to Daville's there. You'd have to keep your wits about you though and definately not beat the wrong person on SF etc, it could be pretty rough at times...

Now of course its all play at home but I play just as much arcade/retro as I do modern stuff these days, its all feel good and I like to tinker with home projects, here's a pic of some of them (my last two have been fruit machines and touch screen games there's plenty of that in the retro sub-folder) and I'll stop there before this post gets much bigger!
KAsGnA8.png

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My first gaming memory is in a 1976 service station on the way to the Lake District, where I played my first game of Pong. From there to Space Invaders at the local Pitch & Putt where my grandad used to take us to try and get my brother and I into golf. My other grandparents lived just inland from Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk, where there were two brilliant arcades, which we spent a lot of time in over the years, seeing stuff like the original Atari Sprint, Midway’s Gun Fight, a side-on WW1 dogfighting thing called Bi-Plane, Galaxian, Asteroids, Battlezone, Gorf, Bezerk, and my favourite, the sit-down Star Wars cabinet.

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11 hours ago, Jammy said:

My first gaming memory is in a 1976 service station on the way to the Lake District, where I played my first game of Pong. From there to Space Invaders at the local Pitch & Putt where my grandad used to take us to try and get my brother and I into golf. My other grandparents lived just inland from Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk, where there were two brilliant arcades, which we spent a lot of time in over the years, seeing stuff like the original Atari Sprint, Midway’s Gun Fight, a side-on WW1 dogfighting thing called Bi-Plane, Galaxian, Asteroids, Battlezone, Gorf, Bezerk, and my favourite, the sit-down Star Wars cabinet.

I've played Sprint at Wells! School trip.

 

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1 hour ago, JamesC said:

I've played Sprint at Wells! School trip.

 


That arcade on the main strip that had Sprint has gone now. Knocked down for apartments. The other arcade on the side road down to the beach (Pop Inn Amusements) is still there. That always had much newer games when we were younger. Galaxian and Star Wars at the other place, then over the road to Pop Inn for Operation Wolf and Outrun :)

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On 04/01/2022 at 23:04, dumpster said:

But theres this memory of Ridge Racer (and to a lesser extent, Indy 500 same day).  All games were set to free play, all there to tempt the dealers into buying the games, and I'd played RR about 10 times in a row before the dealer came over and showed me how to powerslide.  A fucking revelation. What a game.  I had a spectrum +3 at home and the Arcades had THIS.

 

What year was this?!

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My first memory on holiday with my parents in Devon which I thought was 1981 but that would have made me 4 which seems a little young but perhaps I’m misremembering but we were at the evening entertainment and I wandered off (it was the 80’s nobody knew about paedophiles) and I found the arcade and there was the clay pigeon shooting light gun game. I was mesmerised and ran back to my dad for 10p and had a go. I lost and ran back for another and another and another. 
 

I was hooked. 
 

After that was the usual selection of arcades on the caravan holidays I went on with my Auntie and Uncle playing all the classics.  
 

The next big memory was coming across Mad Harry’s in Bristol and seeing Ridge Racer for the first time, nailing that power slide, techno music with chipmunks singing it was absolutely mind blowing. 
 

Then came the Dave and Busters era, that was where my mates and I would spend countless Saturdays loading up our cards with money and playing 355 challenge, Daytona, Point Blank and all sorts of other big games with a beer. Then they closed it down the buggers. 

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1 hour ago, dumpster said:

I had an Amiga 1200, not a Spectrum. Would have been 1993 I guess.  RR was brand new, certainly hadn't seen it in any arcades before this trade show.

 Relieved that you won't going from a Speccy to Ridge Racer. That's future shock right there.

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I and many others were victim of crappy arcade conversions on our Sepctrums and Commodores. So it was always fun seeking out the ' proper "  versions out there :) it was mostly a case of going around Birmingham to the various arcades and even chip shops that had certain games.  And of course going to the seaside for their machines. Then? Segaworld and Namco Station came along to save us all :) oh and good old Dave & Busters which all helped to keep in touch with it all.

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Casually walking into the Trocadero in 1996 (when Sega World was still in there) when visiting London, only to find out all the machines in the entire place were in free play mode. You had to pay £5 to get in sure, but all the rest was free. And I only had 2 hours to spend. What an intense two hours that was though, trying to play as much stuff as I could before the others had finished their visit to St Paul's or something equally pedestrian ;)

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