We trawl Scottish arcades for Sega games,
then film & write about them.

Friday, 23 December 2011

'Treasure Island' (Glasgow) & 'Amusements' (Stonehaven)

I’m admittedly not clear on the introduction of video games into Scottish arcades. There’s articles and writing out there about the decline of the seaside arcade on the whole, but very few seem to even acknowledge the presence of video games at all. At best they’re ignored and at worst they seem to be considered as aggressive interlopers; bright, noisy, obnoxious and you can’t even win any money on them!

Of course, no arcade is under any sort of compulsion to have video games. In Scotland at least there always seems to have been a bit of a divide between ‘arcades’ and ‘amusements’ with amusements primarily focusing on age restricted fruit machines and arcades being more family orientated affairs with a large degree of crossover between the two. Aberdeen’s now defunct Leisureland Bridge Street arcade was a great example of the schism between the two, with a downstairs section dominated by fruit machines and a pretty amazing selection of video games upstairs including (but not limited to) Street Fighter 3, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Scud Race, Fighting Vipers 2 and various Metal Slug installlments before its decline. A bored looking security guard ensured that the parallel worlds of video games and slot machines would never collide, but no one I knew ever wanted them to. We were too busy playing goddamn Scud Race.

Friday, 11 November 2011

'Tenpin' (Edinburgh) & 'Lanes' (Largs)

It’s always fascinating to see arcades from other parts of the world and to speculate on the functions that they might hold. Reading about the closure of New York’s Chinatown Fair arcade was fascinating simply because it was incredible to learn that that arcade subsisted on actual, honest to God video games (and a noughts and crosses playing chicken, apparently). Similarly, reading stories about other countries’ arcades often results in discoveries that feel almost mythical like Dubai's Sega Republic. Sega Republic. Let that sink in.

In comparison, dedicated Scottish arcades can feel like pretty sleazy places where video games can feel like a tacked on afterthought. Thankfully, however, some places do manage to capture at least some of the romance and exuberance an arcade should have.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Wanted List - Round 1

People never ask us “You Arcade, if you could have any Sega games in your ideal arcade, what
would they be?” Well, we'll tell you. These are the games that would make us freak the hell out if
we found them in the wild. Now you don't even have to think about asking. We've met a need by
pre-empting it.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Beach Esplanade, Aberdeen

It's not unreasonable to expect a fifteen year old arcade game to be a little worse for wear. A lot of
them are visceral experiences, with pedals to be stomped, shotguns to be pumped, not to mention
those arcade machines that are literally designed to be hit. It's also not unreasonable to expect that
an arcade game that has been stomped, pumped and hit into a pathetic state should perhaps be
repaired and it's certainly not unreasonable to expect that most games should at least have visible
displays and and have means of accepting money to allow us to play them.

Both Sunset Boulevard and The Boardwalk at Aberdeen's beachfront leisure complex have some
pretty impressive games on offer, but are sadly marred by the fact that so many of them are in such
a sorry condition. I can sort of understand why Sunset Boulevard's Manx TT Superbike cabinet was
showing some cosmetic damage, as it's almost old enough to enlist in the armed forces, but why is the excellent Sega Rally 3 from 2008 in the same arcade suffering from a washed out
screen and absolutely destroyed seat mechanism? Even more galling is the state of 1997's The Lost
World: Jurassic Park
on offer. Even though an employee had to help a pair of players activate their
credits during our visit, when we tried to play it later, the same problem struck again.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Further Portobello Thoughts: Light-Gun Games

Driving and shooting have been pretty common arcade themes for quite a long time now for very understandable reasons. Even if driving or shooting take a degree of skill to do properly, the fundamentals are basic enough that a casual arcade gamer can apply them pretty quickly and flexible enough that they can drive a respectable amount of variations and sub genres, not to mention the appeal of the novel control methods these games offer, even if the steering wheel or light-gun is a more common control method than the joystick in many arcades.

The dominance of these genres is pretty clear at Portobello, although there is a notable exception in Virtua Striker 2 '98. There hasn't been an update to this series since 2006, although its bright, saturated style would perhaps be a neat alternative on modern consoles to the largely more realistic style of the more popular football franchises around now. The cabinet appears to be in good condition, although I unfortunately didn't get a chance to play it as it was surprisingly pretty popular and I have to confess to not being particular eager to wait around for it to become free with the likes of Crazy Taxi and The House of the Dead II trying to magnetically draw pound coins from my pocket. (This is a lie, pound coins are not magnetic, so the theft magnets installed in Crazy Taxi cabinets don't work in the UK).

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Portobello Beach Arcades, Edinburgh

How weird are arcades?

No, listen, how weird are Scottish arcades?

There's something unique in the way illicit-feeling, mundanely 'adult' activities like bingo and slot machines are soundtracked by Daytona USA's indelible opening theme and crunch and thud of beat 'em up attract sequences, or of how the palm tree lined, perma-summer worlds of Outrun or Crazy Taxi offer only brief escape from the most likely dismal Scottish weather. Unfortunately, due in large part to increases in home console technology, many arcades seem to be committing less space to video games and games that would have once been arcade blockbusters like Mortal Kombat or Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds are sadly foregoing arcade releases completely as arcades appear to concentrate on a small variety of proven genres like racing and lightgun games.

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