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Did you frequent arcades and what were the popular games?


Goemon
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I think my time frequenting Arcades came in the early 90s and by then it was very much about Street Fighter 2 and it’s semi-sequels. I remember my local arcade having around 10 machines set up with the first 3 versions of the game on one visit.

 

I’ve been playing Black Tiger on the Capcom Arcade collection recently and on having a go at the score attack I found myself all the way down in like 300s when I eventually died. Looking at the high score table I’m guessing Black Tiger must have been really popular when it came out but it’s not something I ever saw.

 

I got me thinking what were the popular games in the arcades throughout the years and what were the popular games in your local when you were there.

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There was an arcade in Sheffield called Golden City and the Gauntlet machine was always populated when I went in.

 

I think the fact that you could add coins for more health during play contributed to this.

 

Showoffy games like Space Harrier, Afterburner and Dragon's Lair would always be busy too.

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Local youth club I went to from 1982 for a few years had IIRC four cabs at a time which included Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Defender, Star Wars, Asteroids. Weirdly I don’t recall them being in constant use, so it’s hard to say which was most popular.

 

My Aunt’s pub which I visited from an earlier age had - IIRC - one arcade cab at a time but I only recall playing Mr Do! after hours.

 

Some kind of working man’s club my parents went to a couple of times had an area we were allowed in which had a few cabs. The only one I remember vividly was Hunchback which I was obsessed with. I remember it being difficult to get a turn.

 

Arcade encounters before I turned 11 in 83 were otherwise limited to holidays where I would obsess over the seaside arcades or local shops - chippies, cab offices etc. also they had a couple of machines in our local swimming pool, the most popular of which was either Galaga or Phoenix. I can’t remember which it was but it was massively popular. 

 

From 1983 I had access to a video store near(ish) to my secondary school that had about eight arcade machines which were changed often. The ones I remember: Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Karate Champ, Pac-Land,,Shao-lin’s Road, My Hero. The first three of those were hugely popular and difficult to get a go on.

 

As I got older I was able to travel into central London and go to the arcades there. I remember Gradius/Nemesis being a massive deal as well as nonsense like Paperboy. I played Marble Madness whenever I came across it but my favourite games at this point were Bomb Jack and Yie Ar Kung-Fu.

 

I started work in 1988 and was able to visit arcades as I pleased but did so less apart from the odd trip to Trocadero or visits to seaside arcades on holidays, until Street Fighter 2 came out which I became a bit obsessed with. We had a local video store at this point (a different one) which had SF2 as well as a few Neo Geo cabs. The owner used to play me at SF2 for free which was handy. 
 

I remember Space Harrier and Afterburner being stupidly popular but was never really impressed by them personally.

 

I wish my memory worked a lot better than it does.

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Another seaside town kid here. My fondest arcading memories are from the turn of the 90s, peak SF2 years, and specifically one machine my mates and I found and basically inhabited which ran only the vanilla board with three-button sticks but at 10p a go. TEN PENCE! None of us had a SNES at the time so this was quite the find.

 

I also have a strong memory of walking into the big arcade in Largs one day when it had one of the sit-down Champion Edition cabs facing you at the main entrance, and a crowd watching some dude utterly beast as Sagat, everyone too scared to go up against him.

 

I really wish they had lasted longer around here. By Primal Rage (95-ish?) they were all gone. That's the last game I ever remember playing in anything I could call a proper arcade locally.

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I remember the first ever time I set foot into an arcade. I was with my grandad and it was Wonderland in Burnley. I must have been about three years old (so 1984). They had a few pool tables in the center of the space, but then lining the walls they had all the cabs. All I remember is Yie Ar Kung Fu and this holographic lightgun game with projected beer cans.

 

This place managed to stay open well into the late nineties. They had all sorts in there over the years; Final Fight, SF2, Samurai Shodown, etc. Unfortunately children needed to be accompanied by adults so I rarely managed to drag my grandparents in that much.

 

Most of my arcade action happened around Blackpool and Fleetwood from 1991 to 1995, or any time I went to the cinema/bowling.

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The earliest arcade game I remember playing regularly was Space Firebird, which was in the chip shop at the end of our road. I specifically remember standing on a footstool to play it.

 

The swimming baths had Kick and Run, which was the highlight of any swimming lesson. In the dithering about getting changed and gathering everyone together there was always time to stick a 10p in that. Later they had Marble Madness but I found that too aggravating to fork out on.

 

I guess 87-91 were my most committed arcade years. Previous to that I'd always play things whenever we went to the seaside (rarely though). That was the only place I encountered sit-down Outrun, Afterburner, Enduro Racer and the like. 

 

We had a local arcade and one in the city centre, and my biggest rotation locally was R-Type, Gauntlet, Wonderboy in Monster Land, Soldier of Light*, Super Contra, Kiki Kaikai, Tiger Heli, Altered Beast, and... Shackled. I even remember the placement of those machines. The arcade in the city had a stand-up Outrun which was the highlight until Street Fighter II came along. I have to admit though, once we got that SNES version at home I never considered heading into town again to play it.

 

Same for everything that came after really. Once we got to the Playstation era the attraction of arcades had completely worn off for me, so I never got into any of the mid-late 90s big-hitters.

 

* yes!

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13 hours ago, FishyFish said:

Showoffy games like Space Harrier, Afterburner and Dragon's Lair would always be busy too.

 

The first and last time Dragon's Lair has been uttered in the same breath as Space Harrier and Afterburner ;)

 

No regular arcades for me growing up (as a) we lived on a suburban council estate so I had no easy access to the town centre, b) I had no pocket money (indirectly linked to point a), and c) I'm not entirely certain Newport had an arcade that wasn't just gambling machines.

 

That said, having half my family in Cleethorpes did mean I'd get to go to the seaside arcades while on holiday, where I'd primarily avoid the actually popular cabinets (which tended to be fancy things like the sit down Thunder Blade machine), and instead go for the accessible and cheap cabinets like Rampage. So, er, yeah, my main impression was that the popular games were the expensive, modern things, I guess!

 

Other than that, my main exposure to arcade machines was whatever was down the railwayman's club; highlights were some CPS-1 brawlers (I have particularly fond memories of pumping a fair bit into Captain Commando), lowlights one of those NES multigame systems with a timer.

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Pretty sure I’ve posted a version of this before, but…

 

I lived in a town that didn’t have any proper arcades. The nearest was under Dayville’s in Birmingham. 
What we did have in the late 80s/early 90s was chip shops and pubs, and they all had two or three cabinets. Most of the time there was a football game (couldn’t tell you which, didn’t care) a fighting game or beat-em-up, and a shooter. 
 

Street Fighter 2 featured a lot, as did Double Dragon 1&2 and Golden Axe

 

For the shooters, there was stuff like 1943, Prehistoric Isle, Sunset Riders, Aliens, Time Soldiers, Robocop (could do that on 1 credit), Twin Cobra, Tiger Heli, Salamander or Vulcan Venture, R Types…

 

Capcom games didn’t feature all that often. 

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I miss the arcades, that really was a golden time for me. Me and a group of my mates used to get together and go to the local chippy to play Golden Axe and Shadow Warrior, and it's such a great memory. They also had an original Street Fighter which we thought was amazing at the time especially when we worked out the fireball. :wub:

 

Our (admittedly pretty crummy) local arcade was called Spellbound, which we always had to sneak into because it was only for over 18s (maybe due to the proliferation of fruit machines in there). Once in though we would spend all our coin on Shinobi, the original 4 player TMNT and a friend of mine was totally hooked on Rad Racer. Great times... 

 

We would also go to Weston-Super-Mare on bank holidays and I would just play non stop SF type games like World Heroes, Art of Fighting, Marvel Super Heroes anything like that I could find. I do seem to remember one of my more obscure favourites being Time Killers, where you could lop off the opponents limbs...? 🤣

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We didn't have any arcades in the small town I grew up in so my exposure to them was mainly through all those kinds of places where you'd get one or two machines e.g. pubs/restaurants/cafes, swimming pools/leisure centres, football/social clubs, ferries, hotels/youth hostels campsites etc. Then when we went to the larger entertainment places you'd sometimes get a larger row of cabinets and the more showpiece ones. Some specific arcade memories:

 

- The first arcade game I ever remember seeing was Phoenix at the swimming pool. I'm guessing I was only 3 or 4 but distinctly remember the giant UFO 'boss'. I only found out what game it was many years later when I saw it on MAME

 

- Ghosts n Goblins on a French campsite in a small dingy gamesroom. I was probably 5 and was absolutely entranced by this thing. They also had a Black Knight pinball. I used to be one of those kids who'd just stand around there watching the attract mode and every single person playing. I only remember having one go myself and lasted about 10 seconds. I think that Ghosts n Goblins cabinet just awoke something in me. It was so incredibly exciting and beyond any graphics I'd ever seen on computers. I seem to remember the next few years rarely actually getting to play any machines as my mum didn't like them, but I would ALWAYS be one of those kids that any time I ever saw any machine would hang around, pretend to play the attract mode, watch the attract mode endlessly (it was so cool seeing little glimpses of levels later in the game that there was no way you'd reach yourself), watch every single person playing (loved it when it was a good player so you could finally get to see the game beyond the first level!). I think the next cabinet I remember was Zaxxon in a really horrible pub in the Highlands

 

- Midnight Resistance, Line of Fire, and Turbo Outrun at the cinema. I was always more excited to go to the cinema to see Midnight Resistance in action before and after than seeing the actual film

 

- Knights of the Round on a ferry. Just thought it was the best thing ever and it was very generous (or set up on easy) so one coin went really far. 

 

- Eswat, again on a French campsite. Could easily get to the last level on a single credit but then if I remember rightly the last level doesn't allow you to continue, so never completed it. Later in that holiday, staying at a campsite that had the most amazing pinball collection. Probably 20+ late 80s and 90s machines like STTNG, Dracula, Addams Family, Twilight Zone etc. By that time, I still loved arcade cabs but gravitated towards pinball even more because it was even rarer that I'd see it and you just couldn't get close to the experience at home. 

 

- A short-lived set of cabs in a burger joint in town - the one I played the most of was the Capcom Punisher game which I still think is great. Easily completable as I think the games were priced really cheaply. I also remember playing Bucky O'Hare quite a bit

 

- A trip to Center Parcs with my friend's family. His parents always gave us a pile of coins to spend on the arcades. Completed both TMNT and Space Gun there, and saw Mortal Kombat for the first time.

 

- Finally, the Holy Grail for me was the ice rink about 30 mins away, where I think they had about 12-15 cabs at least. They had TMNT and Pacland in the foyer, and then I can remember most of the row of cabs which were next to the ice rink. Obviously I spent most of my time playing/watching those rather than skating, and it was the first place I ever saw SFII. The cabs I seem to remember there were Super Contra, Splatterhouse, Bionic Commando, Twin Cobra, SFII, Robocop, Bad Dudes, Simpsons, Ikari III: The Rescue, Final Fight.

 

So many memories. In some ways I do feel I missed out by never really getting to go to proper arcades. But equally there was something really cool about coming across the odd machine here and there, sometimes in quite unexpected places, because it meant you really appreciated them on their merits (however crap the game) and it often meant seeing some fairly old or obscure stuff that may not have lasted long in an up-to-date arcade. Either way, I still love arcade cabinets and I'm still hoping to get one one day, even if it's to just sit there watching the attract modes endlessly!

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I started in secondary school, back in the 80s. I used to get £1 a day dinner money. I'd buy a roll and chips in the canteen for 30p and then spend the rest in the Rendezvous Cafe on the arcade machines. They used to have Bad Dudes, Robocop, Thundercross and Devastators. There was another cafe that used to have Double Dragon, Altered Beast, Super Contra, Vigilante and Shinobi but the name escapes me. I'd spend my lunch time in these dives, occasionally you'd get some of the bad lads' 'tax' you or take over your go under the pretense of helping you during a difficult bit. It was par for the course I suppose. 

 

After I finished school, I went to a college which was two buses away, one of which would take me through the city centre. This meant I'd had access to bigger arcades. Streetfighter was all the rage and there were other games like Final Fight and Robocop 2 around at the time. Arcades had lost some of their lustre for me at this stage however, back in school I had an Amstrad CPC 464 but now I owned a Megadrive and SNES. And whilst the arcades were still superior to the home the difference wasn't as pronounced as it was when I had the CPC. This changed when Virtua Racing came out, I remember being in absolute awe of the machine.  It was expensive but I played the shit out of it. 

 

After college I went to university, this was the mid 90s and for me was the golden age. 3d games were in, I got to know the owner of a big arcade near the university. he'd let us know the upcoming games and let us trial some of the new machines. At this point I was big into Sega Model 2 games like Daytona, Sega Rally and VF2. There was a bit of a fighting game scene in the arcade too, it got quite competitive. Being at university and therefore having an internet connection meant I had access to usenet groups and could get FAQs of the latest and greatest games. Something which gave me a bit of an edge. I remember when Killer Instinct first came out and me rinsing a guy with a 40-hit combo before knowledge of the combo system was out there. 

 

After university, I lost interest in the scene. I was working full time and I got my gaming kicks from PCs. Arcades became less special when consoles and PC technology matched and surpassed arcades. Still, it was great to have experienced them in their pomp. 

 

 

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I spent half my childhood in Great Yarmouth arcades.
All the big deluxe Sega cabinets were super popular, especially Space Harrier when that first arrived.
Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat were something else though. I don't think anything was ever as popular as those two games at their height. I remember when we had Dance Paradise in Yarmouth, headlined by The Prodigy (about 93/94 I think) and Poison spent an afternoon playing local kids at Mortal Kombat.

Other games I remember being huge were Pac Land, Wonder Boy, Spy Hunter and Gauntlet.

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I can remember there being arcade machines all over the place when I was young. Leisure centres, pubs, takeaways, the bowling alley, the tennis club where my dad played. I can't really remember what they had, though. Except the place we went swimming every Sunday had Asteroids.

 

When it came to actual arcades - we used to go to Swanage in Dorset at least once a year until I was 17. Being a touristy seaside town, it had arcades. The games I played changed as time went on. Driving games were my first love with stuff like Super Sprint, Pole Position and Spy Hunter. Then there was more traditional arcadey stuff like Rampage and Defender. The machines changed each year and I have memories of the next big thing being there. I can distinctly remember seeing stuff like Space Ace, Afterburner and Space Harrier and bring blown away. Wrestlefest was a perennial favourite as well.

 

A turning point for me and arcades was being on holiday in the South of France and encountering a Street Fighter 2 cab at a travelling fair type thing. I was gobsmacked. Like "blown away" is a massive understatement. This leas to me starting to go to the slightly scary arcades in central Liverpool, just to play SFII. 

 

After that, I was working for Sony and playing games where "arcade perfect" wasn't just marketing bullshit. 

 

I went back to Swanage for the first time in nearly 30 years this year. The arcade I used to love is now all tuppenny shoves, grabbers and gatcha machines. The only "games" were conversions of mobile games that converted points into tokens. Made me a little sad. My kids loved it.

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I was lucky enough to have a local arcade nearby, and a few at the seaside resorts. Played the heap, from around 1980 onwards. The local one was  actually a golf club which was open to the public, had a large shed tacked on with about 16-20 arcades, 2p nudgers, pokers and the odd pinball machine. As a kid/ teenager, I can remember playing DK, space invaders, tron, mr do (which had a metal slot coin mechanism which you could bump up credits with a piece of strimmer wire), gauntlet, afterburner (stand up) Mach 3, bubble bobble, regarding, nemesis, vanguard, bombjack, operation wolf, 1942 and time pilot 84 and  championship sprint to name but a few.  The other seaside arcades had some of other great cabs like NARC, Darius (3 screen), HOTD, sega rally, outrun 2. I also remember as a kid,  my local swimming pool having the Star Wars sit down cab - always looked forward to that.  Any one remember handing in a pound note to the cashier and asking for 10, 10s? Lol.

 

I am so glad I had the opportunity growing up to go to the local one as it was a great social meeting spot and drinking spot when older. We used to get a big carry out, drink it outside and then go in for an arcade session/fruit machines gambling. Think I did that until about 23 - had some of the best laughs and times of my life there! There were some real characters I met over the years. I wonder where they are now….

 

 What a shame that kids nowadays will never get the chance to experience that arcade scene the way it was. It was ace.

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52 minutes ago, ScouserInExile said:

I went back to Swanage for the first time in nearly 30 years this year. The arcade I used to love is now all tuppenny shoves, grabbers and gatcha machines. The only "games" were conversions of mobile games that converted points into tokens. 

All the Yarmouth arcades are like this now. You still get the odd driving game and light gun game but they're few and far between and really expensive to play.
 

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Just now, JamesC said:

All the Yarmouth arcades are like this now. You still get the odd driving game and light gun game but they're few and far between and really expensive to play.
 

The PS1 was the beginning of the end for "proper" arcades, to my mind. When I worked at Sony, we used to drink in the bowling alley round the corner from the office. It still has arcade machines at that point. I remember looking at the Tekken 2 machine and thinking "Why would I pay to play that, when the PS1 version is available?". Especially since it was something daft like a quid a credit.

 

And it's been that way ever since.

 

I miss a proper arcade, and love Arvade Club, but why would anyone without that nostalgia pay a quid a go for a game that's only as good as what they can play on a home console and get much more play pee pound?

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Practically lived in the arcades during the evenings when I was younger. Had access to classics like Rampage, Gauntlet, Moon Patrol, Sunset Riders etc. Teenage years was SF2, Simpsons, TMNT, X-men and Soul Calibur. Eventually all the arcades in the 90s wound down in arcade machines , with more slot machines but the only arcade machines were stuff like Time Crisis, Virtua Cop, Silent Scope. Sad times.

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Eastbourne pier - visited two or three times per year when I was a kid and my grandparents lived down there. Basically every time I went down there would be a new machine that I fell in love with. It went something like:

Space Harrier - Double Dragon - Bad Dudes - Altered Beast - Golden Axe - TMNT -Final Fight - SF2. 

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4 hours ago, ScouserInExile said:

The PS1 was the beginning of the end for "proper" arcades, to my mind. When I worked at Sony, we used to drink in the bowling alley round the corner from the office. It still has arcade machines at that point. I remember looking at the Tekken 2 machine and thinking "Why would I pay to play that, when the PS1 version is available?". Especially since it was something daft like a quid a credit.

 

And it's been that way ever since.

 

I miss a proper arcade, and love Arvade Club, but why would anyone without that nostalgia pay a quid a go for a game that's only as good as what they can play on a home console and get much more play pee pound?

 

Greedy as fuck operators are the problem here. They could charge 10p a credit (like they still do in Singapore, of all places (for fighters at least, not the racers/novelties)) and make a killing purely out of parents/kids just wanting to dump change that can't be spent on anything else other than a Chomp/Fudge bar.

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My arcade period was mid to late-90s, when I left home and moved away from the Orkney Islands (where there were none obviously, although I think the ferry had a 1942 machine on it) to Glasgow.

 

I guess it was around the tail end of Daytona USA’s popularity, as that was what drew me in, but I remember a lot of Dreamcast era stuff coming in - Crazy Taxi machine with the standing wheel, Soul Calibur and so on. The absolute definitive one for me was Fighting Mania (aka Punching Mania) though, as it had no equivalent home version and there was a bit of a craze going on - had a crowd around me the first time I landed the 100 strikes heheh.

 

When I moved to Japan it was when VF5 was big (around 2005/6) so I had a data card for that and spent quite a bit of time on it - same for the GF/DM machines of the time. Also After Burner Climax but the machine didn’t last long unfortunately.

 

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I wrote about this in Retro Gamer recently, but I used to go to Sega Park in Harlow regularly from 1998-2002.

 

The gun games in enormous sit down cabinets, like The Lost World and House Of The Dead 2 did really well in the first couple of years. The whole place was full of enormous showpiece cabinets to begin with, but even then they stood out. Crazy Taxi was quite popular, as it was near the entrance and the attract mode really grabbed your attention. Silent Scope was right next to it and the sniper rifle gimmick helped it to stand out from the other gun games. Get Bass had been in that spot before and really surprised me - back then I thought that a fishing arcade game was possibly the worst concept ever. I now own Sega Bass Fishing and realise that I was wrong.

 

Dancing Stage Euromix was far and away the most popular game there from the time it was installed until the place closed early in 2003. There was always a queue to play on weekends and school holidays, and this was largely down to the recognisable licensed songs - people mostly wanted to play Tubthumping and Word Up. I can't help but think later arcade music games didn't do so well largely because their music wasn't tailored to the market.

 

The games that seemed to do the best were always those with a strong novelty factor. I guess it ties into what @ScouserInExile said - we didn't have any kind of competitive scene, so while I really liked playing games like X-Men vs Street Fighter and Virtua Striker 2 seemed to do well, most people would have been happy to play fighting games and sports games at home. Even if the PS1 version of X-Men vs Street Fighter is cack.

 

The University of Essex also had a fair few machines when I was there. The House Of The Dead 4 and Time Crisis 3 were the most popular games, largely because they were in the SU bar rather than the arcade/pool room around the corner. I played a lot of Ghost Squad as I had the memory card for it, and in my final year I played a crazy amount of Sega Rally 3. I probably would have played Street Fighter Alpha 2 and The House Of The Dead more if the controls weren't busted. Everybody seemed to hate the Initial D V3 machine that was in the bar, mostly because of the music.

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Not hugely as there weren't really many around me where I was growing up so usually had to make a trip to the coast which was quite the event.

 

Loved the glow of all the screens and the sounds etc. Main things back then were things like Ataris Star Wars, Battle Zone loved vector games with the neon like glow. Other gems like Nemesis and Salamander by Konami. Even playing the "retro" games back then was great Defender, Space Invaders etc the arcades on the coast had a good collection of new and old.

 

The Sega classics a sit down Outrun cab, Space Harrier etc quite the event with all the hydraulics etc. Remember seeing Power Drift for the first time simply staggering in its size etc. 

 

Just lots of innovation and fast paced gaming although it was expensive! 

 

We have an Arcade Hub in town here where you pay one fee for a days access which is great although unfortunately none of my favourites are really in there and a lot of the hydraulic machines aren't always functional. Sigh.

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What a strange thing ... My earlier post mentioned Ice Cold Beer, a game I hadn't thought about in years and the memory of it came back while I was typing the post.  And then after writing it, I googled and found it's a very rare and collectable machine these days. Then would you believe, I went to Arcade Club tonight in Blackpool and they had one!

 

IMG_20221118_215650.thumb.jpg.9f41e4456762ff59713b3715bf4a47a3.jpg

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9 hours ago, dumpster said:

What a strange thing ... My earlier post mentioned Ice Cold Beer, a game I hadn't thought about in years and the memory of it came back while I was typing the post.  And then after writing it, I googled and found it's a very rare and collectable machine these days. Then would you believe, I went to Arcade Club tonight in Blackpool and they had one!

 

IMG_20221118_215650.thumb.jpg.9f41e4456762ff59713b3715bf4a47a3.jpg

There was a sort of indoor market thing in Yarmouth that had one of these and my mate would often play it. The small cafe in the market didn't even serve beer (you were supposed to win a glass of Ice Cold Beer if you got the ball to the top) but the bloke said he could have a can of coke instead. 

I don't think he ever beat it. 

 

Actually they had a Circus Charlie machine in there too and we'd quite often play that, despite it being pretty old at the time (early 90s).

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On 13/11/2022 at 12:05, Yasawas said:

I also have a strong memory of walking into the big arcade in Largs one day when it had one of the sit-down Champion Edition cabs facing you at the main entrance, and a crowd watching some dude utterly beast as Sagat, everyone too scared to go up against him.

 

Largs was my earliest memories of the arcades. My gran stayed there and I would be allowed to go in on the premise that I didn't touch the fruit machines. I mind stuff like Strider, Black Tiger and Choplifter being on the cheap side with the newer ones like Hard Drivin', Mad Dog McRee, TMNT / Simpsons occupying the main floor areas. Mad Dog was a tough one as there would always be the crowd around judging performance of the player :D

 

Memory of the names of them is a bit faded now, but The Cumbrean was the big one on Largs Seafront, with The Big Apple and another one (The Viking?) being slightly back and a bit more shady. I think there's only one left now and it's just a slot machine place. 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Mr Majestyk said:

Largs was my earliest memories of the arcades. My gran stayed there and I would be allowed to go in on the premise that I didn't touch the fruit machines. I mind stuff like Strider, Black Tiger and Choplifter being on the cheap side

 

I find something oddly touching about the idea that that in all likelihood we played the same Strider cab decades ago ^_^

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