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Memories visiting Indie games retailers in the past.


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I also remember a stall that used to be at Tyne Mouth train station market every Sunday that sold games. He had copies of Pokemon Red & Blue about 6 months before they came out in the UK. He told us they were imports from America (They were actually fake), I didn't care. They looked legit and worked on my Game Boy. I still remember sitting cross legged in the garden with our dog Shera curled up next to me as I started my adventure in Pallet Town.

 

Good times.

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Man, where to even start. Megaware in Hylton Castle, Sunderland. Bloke's house converted into an import gaming den. The only house on a nondescript, not particularly nice street in the middle of an estate, to have 20 cars outside, security cameras on the door, a massive fishtank inside and a huuuuuge TV (for the time) upstairs running exotic stuff like Samurai Showdown in beautiful RGB scart.  Blew my little mind back in 1991 or so.

 

Used to get a lift there off my mam, every saturday, rent a game for the week for 3 quid. Stuff like Zelda 3 before I'd even heard of it, "here, try that" he said. Hired it 3 weeks in a row and beat it, for someone coming from an Amiga this stuff was a revelation. Another week I'd get Golden Axe 2, or maybe Super Shinobi etc, all totally blowing me away. Stuck with him through the playstation days, travelling there to buy my copies of Diehard Gamefan, me being the only one to buy original games off him, he'd order me stuff in specially like SF2T, FF6 US, while all around me purchased floppy discs of SNES games for 3 quid a go to use in their Super Wild Cards.

 

Last time I saw him, he was a massive WOW addict, made his money, and his house on the street looked something like this.

 

megahouse1.jpg

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Shekhana Services in Wood Green, they used to have the import SNES cartridges lined up under the glass counter like rare gems. Almost as pricey as well.

I miss the days of importing when stuff was rare and hard to get. Now it's just a click and a download. You really felt like you'd earned that game after hunting around indie shops for it, getting your machine converted.

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Everything looks better under glass. From the days browsing the electronic games upstairs in Josephs Toys in Sunderland (mini munchman! donkey kong!, firefox F7!), to the exotic stuff under the counter of an old fashioned hardcore indie, I love it.

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30 minutes ago, Yoshimax said:

C.A Games in Glasgow West End was the best indie store there ever was. Charlie was a great guy wonder what he's up to now. Still remember buzzing after picking up the JP import of Shenmue from him.

Oh God yeah. I really miss that shop. They'd always stick stuff on the shelves as soon as it came in the door, so you'd get preorders a day or two in advance. I got to play Vice City on my 18th birthday because of that. I remember going in to preorder Shadow of the Colossus the Tuesday before it came out and it happened a Sony rep was in there with a free copy for the owner, who didn't want it, so he sold it to me then and there.

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22 minutes ago, macosx said:

Shekhana Services in Wood Green, they used to have the import SNES cartridges lined up under the glass counter like rare gems. Almost as pricey as well.

I miss the days of importing when stuff was rare and hard to get. Now it's just a click and a download. You really felt like you'd earned that game after hunting around indie shops for it, getting your machine converted.

 

6 weeks waiting while Raven Games modded and 60hz switched my Saturn, 6 long weeks sat with my copies of Xmen vs SF,  Ghouls N Ghosts and Radiant Silvergun.

 

I might be mr comedy forum person with his stories and daft pictures, but I do have a long gaming history.

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Just Micro in Sheffield in the 80s. Almost exclusively 8-bit computers in the early days with a shelf running around the inside of the shop holding Spectrums, Commodors, BBCs, Orics, Atari's etc. and racks of cassette and disk title along the walls. If you wanted the try out a game, the staff would load it for you (or if you were a regular, they'd trust you to do it yourself) and you could play as long as you liked (or until someone else wanted to try something else on the machine you were using). The owners of the shop formed Gremlin Graphics, which were based in the same building.

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Cannock Games Exchange. An absolute treasure trove of sealed games, even in 2001-2, going back to the early 90s. Rows of preserved sealed Sega Master System , Game Gear and NES games. Loved going to the place, though the prices were sadly also locked in the early 90's too.

 

I didn't really go to any other indies - the best we had was Another World in Wolverhampton and the old Mander Centre Gamestation - both were absolutely great places to buy Dreamcast imports and retro stuff. I loved going to that Gamestation with £30 and coming out with a Dreamcast import, a Master System game and a Neo Geo pocket game. Great shop.

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Solid Gold Games in Dundee. There was a 2nd indie shop in Dundee which I think was owned and ran by the DMA Design guys but Solid Gold was the cool import place. Everything was sparsely and neatly laid out with the unfriendliest deadlock wielding Simpsons comic-book guy type behind the counter.  

 

I would have a snoop about as a teenager. Wandered in one day, around 1996 and there was an Imported Japanese Nintendo 64 in a make shift glass case demo pod. Played Mario 64 way before it came out over here. Shat myself. 

 

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Another world in Wolverhampton. That takes me back. I bought some of my favourite games there back in the day when I was in Wolves to visit relatives. Still got the boxes to Metroid Zero Mission and Fusion. Also got megaman battle network 4 off them on import long before the uk release. It was a simpler time and every time I was in there I never wanted to leave.

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Romsoft in Romsey - used to have an amazing selection of PC Engine and imported Megadrive and SNES games. Pretty sure they had an FM Towns with Turtles at one point. 

I remember waiting for mum to pick me up from there and Andy let me play Streets of Rage 2 all the way to the end which was a great memory. Also selling me Mortal Kombat on Megadrive two weeks early. 

Good times. :)

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19 minutes ago, Dig Dug said:

Another world in Wolverhampton. That takes me back. I bought some of my favourite games there back in the day when I was in Wolves to visit relatives. Still got the boxes to Metroid Zero Mission and Fusion. Also got megaman battle network 4 off them on import long before the uk release. It was a simpler time and every time I was in there I never wanted to leave.

 

I member going to the grand opening on a hot summer's day in 1998, I won a copy of Heart of Darkness on the PSone - except it was a promo copy so you didn't get disc 2 so it was a bit useless really. I had to answer a gaming question - it was 'what are the door symbols in Exhumed on the Saturn' - talk about obscure. But being a 13 year old Sega nerd, who read the official Sega Saturn Magazine religiously, I had the game and got it right :D after about 5 minutes of uhming and ahrring, of course.

 

Before they left imports behind and eventually games altogether before rebranding as Forbidden Planet, I did my work experience there in 2000 and they gave me a copy of Marvel vs Capcom 2 on the Dreamcast for my ahem 'hard work'. It was the week Perfect Dark came out on the N64 and the hype was infectious. The manager, Chris (I think he's still there) was a top bloke, I leant him Maximum Carnage on the Mega Drive and he was over the moon, said he'd be chasing it for years. Lovely bunch of people, really miss shops like that.

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I believe I've still got an order for Project Justice from Chips. Judging by their Google listing I can see no reason why it would have been cancelled since they're focused on the big names in modern gaming.

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 15.12.44.png

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ACE Consoles, just off Carnaby St. Brilliant memories chating with em in there and the proud owner of one of their modded Jap playstations. Glorious.

 

Not just indies though, I've loved HMV and Virgin back then. You can pop over to my Level One thread in retro if you wanna be transported back in time! :)

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When Chips closed in Gloucester that was the end of an era. There were a few shops down the years, mind.

 

I well remember CD Computers in Market Parade, this would have been 1990-ish. Loads of C64 disc games, I can visualise the shelves now and just wish I could go back and pick them up. Tons and tons of 8-bit budget games on tape, Amiga and ST games, plus some PC games (this was just as VGA was coming in, it was still a very niche gaming platform). It had that video-shop feel that old computer shops had back then.

 

After CD Computers closed The Model Shop/Antics was the place to go. Upstairs had a treasure trove of RPG stuff, and downstairs was all the gaming. Again I can see shelves of PC games I could very easily buy up if I had a time machine. We found a boxed copy of Ultima I complete in there for £24 in 1994. Bought my Gameboy in there in 1993. A really good mix of computers and consoles, back when PC was really exciting.

 

There was another place which closed more recently in the middle of town, Retro Computers. It was okay although very much an internet-age shop; people would bring games in and the guy would immediately check completed listings on eBay to gauge the price. And there was the glass cabinet full of r@re stuff. You never had that feeling you were about to unearth something amazing, sadly.

 

Was talking to someone about Gloucester's pre-GAME Gamestation, a decent place back in the early 2000s. I picked up some interesting PS2/Xbox games there for not-too-bad prices. But once GAME got it the toys and other crap took over the store, building up like silt infront of the tills.

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Interactive Consoles in Colchester. Absolutely fucking tiny place that also happened to be owned by the uncle of one of my mates who used to let us borrow games over the weekend. I remember once we took Actraiser; someone else must have already played it because it had a save file with the name "Sir Gavin". For some bizarre reason we thought this was a cool name so started our own game with the same name, before realising that it prefixed whatever you entered with "Sir" so we ended up playing the game under the moniker "Sir Sir Gavin". Stupid kids.

 

Utterly magical time and place though. I guess a combination of being 10 and lack of the internet meant it was so much easier to be surprised by something. Stuff you've never heard of, but you like the look of, take it home and it only fucking turns out to be Secret of Mana. Or what's that huge thing in the corner? Oh, that's a Street Fighter II cabinet, have a go mate, it's going to be massive. Did go the other way of course; I think we borrowed the SNES version of Lethal Weapon 3 one weekend.

 

I watched the Switch reveal with my kids the other week and they asked if we were going to get one. "Of course we are" I replied and I felt a bit jealous about the amount of gaming they have access to. But I think there is also something to said about the mystery and the excitement of only getting a handful of titles a year. Walking round that shop on a Saturday evening with all those possibilities in front of you was completely thrilling.

 

I am old.

 

 

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Old man alert, but the magic of these shops has definitely gone thanks to the internet, eBay, and the move towards the mainstream. Old game stores were on a par with comic shops and tended to be linked more with "gaming" in general (pen-and-paper RPGs, Warhammer, etc). The fact you couldn't just pop on the net for some info meant all these places were truly independent, coming at games in their own style. You'd go to another town and check out a games shop and it would be a totally different experience from the one in your town, and it was genuinely thrilling. Definitely not the same these days, jumpers for goalposts.

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G force in the centre of Glasgow is the last one left in the city afaik and is EXACTLY the same as ever. It's the one that used to be featured occasionally in Consolevania.

 

Grumpy and unhelpful staff and owner who always seem annoyed that they have customers, a good range of games including physical Vita games and imports at ok-but-not-great prices, absurd PC peripherals, good but very expensive retro stuff ( master system 2 for £100?) and still breaks street dates for almost every single game. I think this last thing is what has kept them in business with a loyal customer base despite being almost next door to both Game and a huge CEX. It's not a very nice shop but is where I bought my consoles in the original Xbox era and is like still being a teenager every time I go in there, for good and bad.

 

I miss the one that was in de Courcy's arcade off Byres Road. That place was tiny but had charm.

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Disc and disks in Stafford late 90's was great guy who ran it was a proper gamer so always up for a chat plus if he got to know you, and you preordered anything he would allow you to have it days in advance, games and consoles. (my house mate at the time got his dreamcast from them a week before official release) 

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1 hour ago, Vimster said:

Old man alert, but the magic of these shops has definitely gone thanks to the internet, eBay, and the move towards the mainstream. Old game stores were on a par with comic shops and tended to be linked more with "gaming" in general (pen-and-paper RPGs, Warhammer, etc). The fact you couldn't just pop on the net for some info meant all these places were truly independent, coming at games in their own style. You'd go to another town and check out a games shop and it would be a totally different experience from the one in your town, and it was genuinely thrilling. Definitely not the same these days, jumpers for goalposts.

 

Plus in the 80s you'd also have computer shops that covered ST, Amiga and PCs, if not consoles. So there'd be an overlap there, too - places like Micro Anvika on Tottenham Court Road would have a selection of games alongside the serious stuff.

 

There used to be a games shop in Hammersmith that did computer games as well as board games (in fact, the owner ran a board game company from there as well, designing his own stuff).

 

Also a decent indie in Reading, where I spent many a lunch-hour, in some indoor market/arcade somewhere off the main drag. Can't recall the name.

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Back at the start of the 90s in Gardener St. Brighton, way before it was the Komedia and the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, there was a flea market set-up called the Jubilee Shopping Mall (a grandiose falsehood if there ever was one). It was amazing. Upstairs was a second hand music seller, sold me tapes, CDs and vinyl for cheaps, in the basement was the bric-a-brac with some hidden US comic gems and on the ground floor, along with the greasy spoon cafe, was TCM Games.

 

They were my main go-to-guys for imported SNES games. They were expensive but as I got to know Tony and Christine they let me have good deals and even ordered stuff for me direct from trade. They were good people, they let me play on the new titles on their huge CRT behind the counter and I have very happy memories of killing hours there (and at Hive Comics which opened a lot later but was also run by a great lad named Steve).

 

They moved to bigger premises when the 'mall' was bought out but Tony had a heart attack (non-fatal thankfully), piracy on PS1 became rife which slowed trade and they shut up shop in about 1999 or 2000.

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Indies round my way is a bit weird. They were mainly CHIPS stores, which were a franchises rather than a chain. The one in Middlesbrough was always pretty good during the Uni years, but I tended to do my shopping in the Stockton branch when I was younger since it was easier to get to by bus. That was where I bought my own wholly owned console. A PS1, memory card with Crash 2, Tekken 3, Gran Turismo, and a 2nd Dual Shock controller, Saved ages for that and traded in a load of Mega Drive games and the console in for it. It's still there.

 

The Middlesbrough one unfortunately shut down a few years later due to some franchise bullshit, however the guys who ran it ended up getting the remaining stock, and starting their own place called Super Games World, they have a couple of arcade cabinets and change the games they play there every so often. Friendly blokes too.

 

Speaking of the Mega Drive, There was this other place called Star Games in Stockton where I got that from. Was this tiny little pokey shop in a converted terraced house. Later however it moved down the road to a bigger shop...and then started selling drugs and got shut down.

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  • 8 months later...

Saw this and thought you might all appreciate it.

 

https://allrightgoggles.com/

 



In many ways Gameplayer was less of a shop and more of a car boot sale with ideas above its station.

There was no formal lunch break, so come lunchtime I just locked up, taped a “back in 5 mins” sign on the door, bought a tuna sandwich from the petrol station and ate in the shop between serving customers.

The shelves were a mess. We organised games by platform— Xbox, PlayStation, GameCube and so on— but that was as far as it went. When customers asked if we had a particular item in stock, there was no way of knowing unless you happened to have seen it around recently. When they asked us to contact them if the thing came in, I patiently took their number, then binned it. I had many of these polite deceptions; the ancient cash register had long since lost the ability to add anything up, for example, but it still beeped when you tapped its keys, so I tapped them to buy time while covertly finishing sums on the calculator.

 

Loads more at the link. Including this truth about customers at retail.

 



“Oh, but the worst ones were the middle classes,”my friend Tom told me ten years later, over a flat white in Stoke Newington. Tom and I have been friends since school; I got him a job in another Gameplayer branch shortly after I started. “If you didn’t want to buy a scratched DVD off a working-class guy, he’d just call you a dickhead and leave,” he said. “But the middle-class ones would pick a fight and hang around for hours, saying ‘I know my rights. Let me speak to your manager.’”

I recalled a woman who came into the shop with her teenage son to buy a pre-owned Xbox. He picked out a few games and she interrogated me at length about each one. Was it violent? Did it have sex, or swearing? The kid disappointedly returned Gears of War and Call of Duty to the shelves. Finally they agreed on some bloodless entertainment, bought the console and left.

A couple of hours later the woman strode back into the shop. Outside in the street the kid waited in the back seat of a car. He looked stricken.

“I thought I was clear that I didn’t want my son exposed to inappropriate material,” said the woman. She slapped a paper slipcase onto the counter. “I’d like to speak to your manager at once, please.”

I examined the slipcase. It contained a demo disc packaged with the Xbox console. One of the games previewed was Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a game about a foul-mouthed cartoon squirrel who battles giant turds. I wondered if the woman had actually met any thirteen-year-old boys.

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Went into Macclesfield the other week to find the indie 'Bits 'n Pieces' had shut.

 

Shame. He'd survived with GAME in the town for years. CEX replaced GAME since and I think their model impacted on Bits much more than GAME did.

 

Ah well.

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There was a great indie shop in Epsom. It started off opposite the station in the 80s and you could go in and play Speccy and Commodore games to you hearts content.

 

It then moved to the indoor market during the SNES/Megadrive era, until they finally got a store round the corner during the PSone days. It eventually disappeared sadly.

 

Can't remember what it was called but it was mainly run by a woman with blonde hair. The shop was great, kind of a prototype CEX years before CEX.

 

If anyone remembers the name or knows what happened to the owners I'd love to know.

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The smell of BO, cheap ketchup, and shrink wrapped imports of the Chip Shop in Liverpool.

 

As a student studying fine art I had very little to spend, when street fighter 2 turbo came out I had as much chance of purchasing a Mclaren f1.

 

The rigmarole of offering up your trades to be given less than a quarter of their value was just heartbreaking, but you just had to go with the flow for that imported rare loot.

 

Paid £100 for Super Street Fighter 2 on the Jap snes and certainly got my moneys worth. I sold my very first painting in 1993 in a private gallery and immediately bought a neo geo cd .Silly lad

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