Thursday, 6 December 2018

Lancashire Coast 2 Coast

St Anne’s Pier, Lytham St Anne’s

After a long five hour drive, we stopped off at St Anne’s Pier and decided to have a bite to eat in the cafe.  Now it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the sandwiches.  They were superb, deep filled with traditional fillings.  I opted for cheese and pickle. 

The cakes were very nice as well. 

Just like the sandwiches, the arcade didn’t disappoint!  There was a great selection of late nineties and noughties Sega DLX cabinets.  These include After Burner Climax, Eighteen Wheeler, Let’s Go Jungle!, Manx TT Super Bike, Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, The House of the Dead 4 and The Lost World.

A working Manx TT Super Bike, pretty rare these days.

The two After Burner DLX cabs were set up for 2 player linked co-op mode.  I’ve only ever seen this before in Japan, very cool!

There were a couple of issues with some of the games, for example the calibration of The Lost World gun was way off.  However it was the end of the season when we visited, so hopefully these issues will be addressed over the quieter months.

Ballistics – GRIN / Triotech - 2002
Now this is an interesting one.  I’ve only ever seen this once before at Sandown Pier on the Isle of Wight, and the game was out of order.  It was nice to finally give it a go.

Developed by the now defunct Swedish studio GRIN, Ballistics started off as a PC game and was reworked for the arcades.  In this futuristic racing game, the player must race hover bikes, called Speeders whilst avoiding the obstacles.  The tracks comprise of long tunnels, taking inspiration from The Fifth Element and Blade Runner for the city tracks, and also the snowy mountains of Siberia and the jungles of the Amazon.  The speeders are magnetically attached to the race surface, allowing 360 degrees of movement.

The hard plastic seat wasn’t the most comfortable.  Sitting in the reclined seating position gives the illusion of being eaten by a giant Pac-Man.

Unfortunately time hasn’t been kind to this one.  I didn’t get a great sense of speed and the graphics, which resemble PlayStation One era have aged badly.  Whilst it’s no F-Zero AX, it’s a novel idea and I’m pleased to have played it.


There are a few arcades in Morecambe, but they didn’t have anything particularly noteworthy.  In the arcades which still had video games, they had the usual selection of modern titles.  However in Coopers Amusements I did see this switched off Naomi Universal at the back of the arcade.

I had a chat with the owner and he said it had a monitor fault.  They were trying to source a new monitor, but were willing to sell it as-is for £100.  That’s a fantastic price and cosmetically it looked in great condition, but unfortunately due to space limits and having spent a lot on recent Raids, I had to pass.

However I did happen to come across some cool video game shops.  Lees Games had a fantastic selection of classic Sega and Nintendo titles, as well as modern games.

There was also a cool video game stall in the indoor market. 

The previous day the wife and I had been chatting about Ikari Warriors and rotary sticks (or I had been talking to her about them!), and she mentioned the similarities to The Ninja, a game she had on the Master System back in the day.  As soon as I saw this I had to get it for her!

This mural instantly reminded me of Super Hang-On!


This arcade along the seafront was a bit of an oddball and had a couple of interesting machines.

Quick & Crash – Namco – 1999

In this shooting gallery game, the aim is to shoot the targets in the quickest time after the gun is drawn.  The game is very much a modern version of those old electro mechanical shooting games.  Great fun and one you don’t see very often.

Belly Bomber – Namco - 1994

Quite a strange one this!  Push the five red ‘bombs’ towards the belly of Dodogadon, the dragon-like creature as he moves from side to side.  Once the bombs have reached the top of the playfield, they come back down again to the player. 

I wonder what he had done to deserve such hostile treatment!?

The arcade had various fruit machine glass and video game marquees displayed on the walls, including Point Blank, Space Invaders, Virtua Cop and Virtua Fighter 3. 

I found these kind of bittersweet.  On one hand they look great, but on the other it’s probably all that is left of the machines.  I was particularly intrigued to see this one.

I did ask the owner about it, but unfortunately he couldn’t tell me much about the machine.

Here are some more pics of the arcade.

I checked out the arcades in Blackpool back in 2016.  The highlight was of course the awesome Ridge Racer Full Scale in the Pleasure Beach.  I was hoping for another visit this time, but unfortunately ran out of time.

You can read my 2016 write-up here.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

PLAY Expo Blackpool 2018 Retro Special

PLAY Expo Blackpool Retro Special was held at the Norbreck Castle Hotel on the 27th and 28th October 2018. 

Here is a bit about the event and my gaming highlights.

There was a fantastic selection of titles this year, and as usual I spent most of my time in this section.

RoboCop – Data East - 1988

A childhood arcade favourite and it’s just as awesome today.  Back in the day I played it on generic Jamma cabinets, and it’s the first time I’ve seen the US dedicated cab.  The curved marquee looks awesome.

Bump ‘n’ Jump – Data East – 1982

Bump into enemy vehicles and jump over obstacles such as large puddles to get to the end of each level.  A fun little game and one you don’t see very often.

Circus Charlie – Konami 1984

Have you ever fancied riding on a lion and jumping through flaming rings?  Or how about walking along a tightrope and jumping over monkeys?  Then this is the game for you!  A fantastic game, and the cabinet artwork is superb.

Ken Sei Mogura – Capcom / Sigma / Togo - 1994

An extremely rare machine and an interesting curiosity, this was my personal highlight of the show. 

Ken Sei Mogura is basically a Street Fighter II themed Whack-a-Mole.  As players whack the mini M. Bison heads, the action is played out on screen.  Here is a video of the game in action.

There is an interesting story behind this machine.  Two of these were found at the then closed Dreamland amusement park in Margate.  The park had fallen into disrepair, and both machines had been vandalised to gain entry to their con boxes.  Using parts from both units, a fully working machine was assembled. 

The full story can be found here:

By the sound of it, the machines came close to ending up on the scrap heap and being lost in time.  It’s awesome that a working machine was salvaged and is back out there being enjoyed by the people at Play.  Although my six year old daughter did sustain a minor gaming injury when she accidently bashed her finger with the mallet whilst battling the mini M. Bisons’!

Double Dragon – Technōs Japan – 1987

An all time classic on the cabs I remember playing it on.

Speed Buggy – Tatsumi / Data East – 1985

Otherwise known as Buggy Boy!  I don’t recall seeing this in the arcades back in the day, but I played it to death on my Amstrad CPC 464.  The game is extremely fun, and I love the cell shaded graphics style.

Bosconian – Namco - 1981

It was the first time I’ve played this awesome multi-directional scrolling shooter.  The player must shoot down the space stations in each stage, whilst avoiding enemies, missiles, asteroids and mines.  The ship fires from both the front and behind, and it’s one of the first video games to feature diagonal directions and a radar.  The game was great fun and plays really well.

Arguably three of Sega’s most iconic arcade games.

The show had fantastic Atari and Nintendo line ups.

My daughter enjoying a game of Burger Time.  It’s currently her second favourite arcade game after Pac-Land.

There was a large console section at the show, with some rare and obscure machines for people to enjoy.

The day went so quickly, and I didn’t get to spend much time with the consoles.  My time was divided between the arcade section, looking after my wife and children, and a brief pit stop for some toasties in the hotel lobby.

I did however find time to have some credits on the pinball tables.  There was a fantastic selection featuring pinball tables through the ages.  I particularly enjoyed playing The Getaway, Tron Legacy and RoboCop.

Now this was pretty cool!  This one-of a kind Adams Family Challenge Chair combines The Adams Family pinball machine with an old “Sparky” electric chair. 

The player grips the handles and controls the flippers using push buttons, and during the game the player is ‘shocked’.  This is an illusion created by vibrating motors inside the handles, which oscillate at ever-increasing speeds.  There is also an extra vibro motor under the seat as well as a smoke generator.  I braved the chair myself and it was good fun, and the perfect game for Halloween!

More info can be found here:

Here are some more pics of the show.