Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Crackers 2014

Here are some of my recent purchases, ready for the festive season!

Razion MVS Gamecenter Kit Shockbox LE # 511
I love horizontal shooters and I’m really looking forward to playing the latest release from NG:DEV.TEAM.

I recently picked this up on Yahoo Japan.  It was a bit of an impulse purchase really, I put on a low bid and ended up winning it.  The game certainly divides opinion, including my own!  I was immensely excited when rumours of its release started to circulate, the thought of seeing Capcom characters on Neo Geo hardware was awesome.  However the game was finally released and received a mixed reception.  I think this jaded my enthusiasm for the game.  I played the game for the first time during shore leave in Japan.  It was a small arcade with a few Astro City’s, I can’t even remember what town it was in.  First impressions weren’t great.  I found the game a bit dull and not much fun.  Well since then I’ve changed my opinion.  The character roster is excellent, although it would have been nice to have a bit more variety on the Capcom side.  Initially I wasn’t impressed by the art style, particularly the desolate backgrounds, but it’s really grown on me.  I was expecting more fan service with references to Capcom / SNK titles, however the bleak tone gives the game a unique look.  The music suits the backgrounds and the Capcom sprites are awesome.  Who ever thought we would see Hugo on the Neo?  The game isn’t perfect, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with it and it’s awesome it exists. 

Darius Odyssey Kōshiki Settei Shiryōshū Official Japanese Art Book
A very cool book featuring lots of nice art from the series.


Splatterhouse Pop and Bokuno Game Center Vol. 2 - Astro City featuring Fighting Vipers
I’m really pleased to finally get hold of a Splatterhouse pop after being outbid so many times.

Takara Transformers Sentinel Mega Drive Megatron
What an awesome idea, a Mega Drive Megatron transformer!  Or “Fully Transformable Antagonistic Videogame Console” as it says on the box.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Halloween at The Four Quarters

The Four Quarters is a new arcade bar located in Peckham, South-East London.

I was really impressed by the awesome selection and variety of games.  I played and enjoyed all the titles, but these were my highlights:

Final Fight and Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition
Two of my all time favourites.


So good to see and play this Irem classic again in a UK arcade, with the Bydo Empire proving to be just as unforgiving as ever.

Smash TV

Big money, big prizes, I love it!  I remember playing this down the seafront and then spending hours playing the Super Nintendo conversion.  It’s been years since I last played it.  Unfortunately my game hasn’t improved and I’m ashamed to say I had to credit feed to get to Mutoid Man.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I remember when this was released and spending all of my pocket money on it, it has a lot to answer for!  Still just as much fun today, the game was played pretty much non stop the whole time I was there.


I’ve actually wanted to play this for a long time.  I don’t recall ever playing or even seeing one before.  The first thing that strikes you is the aesthetics - the artwork and sharp luminous lines, the backdrop and backlight between the screen and controls, the joystick and spinner, it’s stunning. 

The game comprises of four subgames:
IO Tower Game – destroy Grid Bugs to clear a path to the flashing circle, which must be entered before the timer expires. 

MCP Game – shoot your way through a multicoloured wall and enter the master control program cone without touching a block. 
Tank Game – navigate a maze and destroy the enemy tanks before they destroy you.
Cycle Game – guide a light cycle in an arena, avoiding walls and the light traces left behind by the cycles and trap and destroy your rivals. 
The four subgames have to be cleared in order to move on to the next level.  The games were fun, however I seemed to struggle with the cycle game, only managing to complete the first level once.

It was great seeing people play and enjoying these classic games.  Turtles, Street Fighter II and Point Blank proved among the most popular, with these machines played pretty much non stop.


Pac-Man wasn’t far behind though and proved particularly popular with the ladies!

Halloween – the perfect time for killing Zombies.

Even the toilets paid homage to gaming, with pages from nineties videogame magazines decorating the walls.

A few of the magazine covers looked very familiar.  I’m sure I picked a couple of these up back in the day!

There was a multi-console set up in the upstairs chill-out lounge.  Of course all of the games were horror themed, and included The House of the Dead 2 (Dreamcast), Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (Mega Drive), Zombies Ate My Neighbours (Super Nintendo), Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation) and Maniac Mansion (NES).  Horror movies were screened down stairs in the ex-butcher’s basement.

The arcade games were set at one quarter per credit, with quarters available from the bar or change machine priced at four for a pound.  With a fantastic selection of arcade games, a great vibe and friendly staff, and an excellent range of cask beers, I had an awesome time at The Four Quarters.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Southend-on-Sea - Part 2: Astro City

I really enjoyed my visit to Astro City last year, it was great to return and see what’s new.

Since my last visit there have been a number of changes.  I was sad to see the Cave shooters and G-Darius have now been removed.  On the upside there are some awesome new additions, including Final Fight, Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future, Super Street Fighter IV and Hyper Bishi Bashi Champ. 



It was awesome seeing Final Fight, one of my all time favourites back in a UK arcade.

Hyper Bishi Bashi Champ was my personal highlight.  My wife and I enjoyed quite a few credits on this, great fun! 

 It was cool seeing the original Gauntlet cabinet and Gauntlet Legends side by side.

For fans of music rhythm games the arcade now features Beatmania IIDX, Pop’n Music and Dance Dance Revolution.  My wife had a few credits on Pop ‘n Music and once again you can check out her gaming skills on the video!  I’m not familiar with the game, but the Gradius and Super Mario Bros themed stages were pretty cool!

Crazy Taxi and Eighteen Wheeler cabinets were in the entrance awaiting set up.  I’m already missing Bishi Bashi and can’t wait for my next visit!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Southend-on-Sea - Part 1: Seaside Amusements

The arcades along the seafront still have a lot of video games, and the video game to fruit machine ratio is pretty good, especially compared to other seaside towns.


This arcade has some real classics, including original Pac-Man and Track and Field cabinets, and the awesome Metal Hawk. 


I also enjoyed a few credits on GTI Club and Landing High Japan, and it was cool to see Heated Barrel running in an Electrocoin Xenon cabinet.


The arcade had a nice selection of pinball tables.  I had a real blast playing Doctor Who!

I had a great time in Happidrome.  It’s really nice seeing a seaside arcade with classic arcade cabinets in good working condition being played and enjoyed by the public.

Unfortunately the weekend after our visit the arcade was flooded out following a storm.  The arcade suffered similar problems last year.  The Happidrome facebook page states that they plan to re-open again in a temporary capacity in a few weeks, and then shut down for the next revamp.  Check their page for updates.

Sunspot Amusements

This arcade has a nice selection of dedicated cabinets. 

I first saw Brave Firefighters in an arcade in Chiba, Japan around the time of its release in 1999 and for years regretted never playing it.  Then in 2009 on a weekend in Southend I was very happy to see a Brave Firefighters machine again. 

It’s good to see the game still up and running.  The game is powered by the notoriously fragile Hikaru hardware, the same system as Planet Harriers.  This is still the only Brave Firefighters machine I’ve seen in the UK.  I really like this game.  Its fun, the hose controller, complete with adjustable nozzle is pretty unique and the graphics still impress today.
More pictures from various arcades along the seafront