Thursday, 30 June 2016

Arcades In Blackpool

It was a Sunday morning and we were on our way to Blackpool.  We made an impromptu stop at a car boot sale just outside the town.  As usual we scouted the stalls for any gaming related bargains.  I didn’t pick up any games, but it was nice to find a stall with some classics.

Brooks Collectables

The first arcade we checked out was Brooks Collectables.  Located opposite the Waterloo Road tram stop, South Promenade, this venue has a vintage arcade featuring cocktail cabinets, dedicated machines and penny bandits.

I especially liked the collection of cocktail cabinets.  Games featured include Crazy Kong, Galaga, Pac-Man, Scramble and Space Invaders.

Unfortunately the rest of the arcades along the seafront were less interesting, featuring mostly gambling and redemption machines.  OutRun 2 SP SDX and Star Wars Battle Pod were highlights of a very limited selection. 

Walking through the back streets one evening, just one block behind the seafront, the decline is evident with dumped rubbish and rows of boarded up guest houses and buildings falling into disrepair.  It’s a sad sight, tarnishing the feeling of seaside nostalgia. 

In the basement of one hotel my wife spied a generic Jamma cabinet sandwiched between a fruit machine and an old mattress.

Pleasure Beach

Ridge Racer Full Scale - 1993

I was blown away to find Ridge Racer Full Scale.  This must be the only Ridge Racer Full Scale still operating in the UK

The game features an adapted Mazda Eunos Roadster and is played on a front projected triple screen.  The car had a few faults.  The gear shifter wasn’t functional, the stereo has been removed, the dash gauges weren’t working, and the air blowers didn’t work.  Despite these issues, the cab played well and was in solid condition for its age.

Here is a video of me playing the game (very badly!).

I was gutted when I visited an arcade in Leysdown-on-Sea, on the Isle of Sheppey back in 2014 only to discover that they had got rid of a Ridge Racer Full Scale the previous summer, and I doubted I would ever have the chance to play one.  It was simply amazing to find one still operating.  Ridge Racer Full Scale is an awesome experience, completely pulling you in to the game.  It still impressed and was getting plenty of attention during our visit.  A massive well done to Pleasure Beach for keeping the game running in good, serviceable condition after all these years!  For me this was well worth the admission price alone.

Some more pics of the cab.

The following pictures are used with kind permission and remain the copyright of Jason Newman aka Rotunda, the current Twin Galaxies arcade and PlayStation world record holder.

The service switch is behind the coin mech.

A look under the hood. 

The game boards are located under the projector screens.  There are three single System 22 PCB’s, with each one powering one screen.

The old Bose sound system.

Here are some more pics of the Pleasure Beach arcade.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Japan, Arcades & Gaming – 2004 Edition

Whilst having a bit of a sort out, I came across some old photos of a week I had in Japan back in August 2004.  I took the negatives to Boots and had them converted to digital format.

I stayed at Weekly Mansion Kiba Chou, located about fifteen minutes from Akihabara and twenty five minutes from Shinjuku. 

I had an awesome week, venturing down to Osaka, climbing Mount Fuji and of course getting in lots of gaming! 

Climbing Mount Fuji
It had long been my ambition to climb Mount Fuji (or Fuji-san).  At 3,776 m (12,390 ft), Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest peak by far.  Early July to mid September is the official climbing season when the trails and mountain facilities are open.  During this period the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is relatively mild, there is good access by public transport and the mountain huts are operating. 

I had aimed to start my climb in the evening, the plan being to see the sunrise from the summit.  However I had underestimated the time it takes to get there (bad planning!) and didn’t start the climb until late in the night.  The trails are divided into ten stations, the tenth station being the summit.  Like most people, I started my ascent from the fifth station.  I purchased a wooden hiking stick, which could be stamped at most of the mountain huts for a small fee. 

The climb was hard work as the steep volcanic cinder shifts underfoot like sand.  At some points the terrain was steep and rocky, and the signs warning climbers of falling rocks were a little disconcerting.  Proper shoes, warm clothes and waterproofs are a must, along with food and water and a torch. 

As the sun began to rise, I was around three quarters of the way up.  I chilled for a bit, took in the view and had a well deserved Asahi. The chances of the mountain being free of clouds are highest during the early morning hours. 

As I approached the summit, the air became noticeably thinner and I began experiencing shortness of breath.  I spent around an hour at the top, walking around the crater rim.  It was much colder at the summit than the base.  

At the gift shop I bought my parents a gift they still treasure to this day – a can of genuine Fuji air!  Climbing Mount Fuji was an awesome experience and I did it all over again a couple of years later with my wife. 

Here is a pic of me with a very nice family I befriended on the way down.

Club Sega, Akihabara.  Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition and the newly released Virtua Fighter 4 Final Tuned were proving very popular.

Try Amusement Tower, Akihabara

The awesome Darius, released by Taito in 1986.

TV Game and PCB Stores

Super Potato, Akihabara

I remember being tempted to pick up one of these Virtual-On controllers.  They were really cheap as well, but sadly luggage space was my worst enemy!

I think this was taken at one of the “Trader” stores?

Mak Japan
There are some awesome PCB’s pictured in the cabinet, including 1941 - Counter Attack, Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, Rod-Land, Gradius II and III, Ordyne and Xexex. 


I first visited theses stores in the late nineties and still remember my PCB ‘shopping list’: Aliens, Final Fight, Rainbow Islands, Shinobi, Street Fighter II’ Turbo and Super Street Fighter II X.