Lucky Me!

Replay at Manchester was great again, the pinball section in particular this time seemed to excel. I had my usual bash at The Black Knight 2000 but also found a new one: Attack of Mars which is basically a rip-off of Mars Attacks!

The arcade section was as good as it always is, but for some reason the hall filled up and it was difficult to get a game. I don’t recall having this problem in the past, but I walked around for a good hour at one point and wasn’t able to get on a game I wanted to play. Admittedly I didn’t stand in a queue to play a game because if there’s a queue I just go and play something else. Usually.

The second day was my “trawl around all the consoles” day. My feet wreck me through the second day so it’s good to sit down! I couldn’t help but feel the retro section was smaller somehow. It could have just been an optical illusion but I definitely got that impression. It will be a shame if they let that section wither because it’s a large part of why I go.

You might not be aware but there is an arcade in the U.K. called “Arcade Club”. It’s quite new and I’ve known about it for a while now but hadn’t been. That was rectified about 3 weeks after Replay Expo. The Arcade Club was in Haslingden, which is a stone’s throw from Bolton (the place where I was born and near to where all my family are), near where Wallsy lives and near Ramsbottom – which is completely irrelevant other that it’s the town my last name is from. The plan was to go to Arcade Club and kip over at Wallsy’s.

I entered the Arcade Club and was not disappointed. There were about 100 games which included practically everything you could think of, well not quite because Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace and Strider weren’t there, but everything else was. In my opinion it’s better than Replay Expo’s arcade section. It costs a tenner to get in and all the games are on free-play, so it’s basically a free night out.

I played my fill of Salamander, Smash T.V., Star Wars, Ghosts and Goblins (carry on for everything else you can think of) and went back to Wallsy’s. I got some kip and, the next day, had a few games of DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou. I might have forgotten to mention that Wallsy has a stonking collection of Japanese shoot ’em ups. SaiDaiOuJou is a tremendous game and there are probably only 2 or 3 people that have it in the whole of the U.K. {and I know one of them!}

Then it struck me how completely lucky I am when it comes to retro games! I have a Hyper Sports, Atari Dragon’s Lair and Atari Space Ace (both of which are as rare as rocking-horse shit). I get to go to Replay Blackpool and Replay Expo Manchester every year and sleep Wallsy’s so get to play Ketsui, SaiDaiOuJou and Mushihimesama et al on a proper candy cab, these are games that most people have never even seen. I live in Middlesbrough so I will be visiting NERG (North East Retro Group) from next year which is only an hour away in Gateshead.

If you go back 10 years the stark fact was that arcades were dead and it’s why I started buying my own PCBs and machines. It’s completely different now because there are so many retro events through the year now that it’s almost pointless buying your own. Just about the only games not covered by a decent public event are Japanese shoot ’em ups.

Arcade Club just moved to a new location in Bury (still a stone’s throw from Bolton) and has nigh on 200 games now. The place is truly amazing and best of all it’s open 11am till 11pm every Saturday so I can plan a regular trip down there and don’t need to stay over.

There actually has never been a better time to play arcade games than right now so long as you can easily get to the northwest of England and have a mate with a New Net City and an awesome taste in games!

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