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

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Hilton Coylumbridge, Aviemore


There was no specific plan to visit the Hilton Colyumbridge in Aviemore at this stage of the YouArcade journey, but it certainly worked out tidily from a narrative perspective. Seeing the selection of games on offer here was a little depressing, but not in the way many of our previous visits have been. 

Hilton’s Colyumbridge’s arcades aren’t depressing in terms of washed out screens and shattered light-guns or swathes of fun-time real estate given over to slightly seedy fruit machines. Instead, the selection of games available in Aviemore was a blunt reminder that the days of OutRun 2 and Crazy Taxi being arcade kings was over, and the days of Golden Axe and Shinobi were prehistoric. This isn’t necessarily a slight against the cabinets on offer there, but is a little painful to see that Sega’s arcade golden age has ended in such harsh terms.

If anything brings this uncomortable truth home, it’s the lack of Sega’s trademark blue-sky psychadelia apparent in wintery colour palette present in Extreme Hunting 2 and the muted feel of Club Kart. Extreme Hunting 2 is a fine enough game, even if you’re not particularly taken with the idea of hunting, but nothing about it makes it feel like it earns the Sega logo on the cabinet. It suffers from a complete lack of any sort of personality, even if the gameplay itself felt pretty solid. Club Kart was unfortunately hamstrung by being installed in an inappropriate (and frankly terrifying) gigantic space-craft sized moving cabinet. Unfortunately, I can’t find any evidence of this ever being the intended way for the game to be played and it would probably have been much better suited to something like Afterburner: Climax. Instead, it was distracting how little the experience simulated the feeling of riding in a go-kart. Both games have cool gimmicks that I can see acting as a draw, but are otherwise so aggressively generic that it’s difficult to imagine either one leaving any lasting impression on players.


Perhaps even more alien to the classic blue sky and palm-trees aesthetic are Love and Berry and Dinosaur King, card dispensing, mini-sized cabinets designed to humiliate any grown man who dares try to play them. The rules of each were a little baffling, but seemed to be variations of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ at their core with players acquiring cards that they can use to bolster their character’s fashion sense or dinosaur’s power in anticipation of candy-coloured dance competitions or  Pokemon-esqe monster battles. Both Love and Berry and Dinosaur King make some shockingly frank assumptions about gender, but I respect that these games dispense collectable cards along with their rather slight game experience. The cards are of a high quality and I imagine they are pretty collectable if you're into that sort of thing, although the Love and Berry cards glitter, which makes them marginally cooler than the Dinosaur King cards which only feature illustrations and some basic dinosaur facts along with their stats.

Somewhat surprisingly, the prize games like Kick for Cash and its snooker themed cousin felt more traditionally ‘Sega’ than many of the straight video games we found at Hilton Colyumbridge. Trying to arc your avatar’s football along a string of floating, humungous gold coins in Kick for Cash by using a trackball felt silly enough to overcome the game’s status as a prize game and felt like it would make a decent mini-game in a larger football game. Kudos to Sega for making even losing at this game a worthwhile experience. While prize games don’t really fit my platonic ideal of what Sega should be, at least Kick for Cash is fun while it fleeces you and it's predicated on a refreshingly goofy idea that is hard to dislike.

All the cabinets in Aviemore had something unique to offer, but they really did feel like definitive proof that the look and feel of the Dreamcast era has went the way of the Dreamcast itself. While sad, this is understandable. The mall-punk characters in Top Skater, Fighting Vipers or Crazy Taxi look almost as silly in 2012 as a b-boy character or a New Romantic character would have in the late nineties. Still, a constantly sun-kissed Californian seaside town always seems like a nice place to go during Scotland's greyist and wettest of days. Thank god for PSN and X-Box Live downloads. 

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