23/07/2017

☆ The Video Game Arcades Of The People "Chip Shops, Video Shops , Newsagents & Taxi Ranks" ☆ #Arcade #Retrogaming

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If like me you only ever went to the seaside once a year then your experiences of a true video game arcade were limited to these holiday visits. Those arcade visits are the ones that shaped the way I feel about arcade video games to this very day.

The thing is the unsung heroes of the arcade world for the other 52 weeks of the year were the arcade cabinet pioneers on our local high streets. 

These local shops who would have one or two arcade cabinets on their premises so we could get our fix of Street Fighter II, Altered Beast, Golden Axe and Bad Dudes even if we lived nowhere near Southend On Sea.
Without these high street warriors, my arcade game love affair may not have lasted this long. The sheer delight of walking into a Newsagents who had a World Cup 90 machine tucked away at the back of the shop was something that I long for to this day.

Round my way (Enfield, Chingford and Edmonton) there were some sweet places to go to get your arcade fix and I’d like to take you all on a worded tour of my fave places to play arcade games.

A TALE OF TWO SHOPS
First of all, down my road, we had a row of shops that consisted of two newsagents/sweet shops that always had an arcade machine in them. 

My favourite sweet shop was closest to my house and it held the greatest arcade video game of all time within its limited shop space. They had a StreetFighterII cabinet just as you walked into the shop and it was a destination for all the kids from the surrounding houses to come and be the new challenger on this marvel of an arcade game.

I would visit the sweet shop with £2. £1 would be spent on a penny sweet mix in a paper bag along with a Super Size can of VirginCola. The other £1 would be placed into Street Fighter II and I would be transported across the world to f1ght in Japan, Brazil, Thailand, USA, China, Russia and Spain. 

People would come and peer over my shoulder to watch as I got my behind kicked by Chun-li for the 2nd time and then it was time for someone to place their 20p on the cabinet in order to become the "NEXT CHALLENGER."

All of this would be taking place in your local sweet shop! It was a subculture of the main video game arcades and it was on my doorstep and I loved it. In some newsagents, the kids took over the shop which led to nervous shopkeepers getting rid of the arcades or putting up the dreaded “2 School Children Only” sign. At the same time though, these machines must have been coining it in (literally!). It was a good time to be an arcade gamer and maybe a good time to be a sweet shop owner?

The next sweet shop just up the road from the Street Fighter II shop was a bit of run down place. It never seemed to stock much more than a few newspapers and some sweets (no penny sweets though!). 

At the back of this shop, the guy always had a couple of older arcade machines. Ones from the early 80’s or ones that were current but a little less popular. The cabinet I remember the most from this shop was the ORIGINAL StreetFighter cabinet. As we know, this is the game that started the CAPCOM series that took over the world. The game itself was nowhere near as good and felt very inaccessible. It was rock hard and I would go in there every time just hoping to be able to win at least one round!

TAXI!
Moving on down the road to the end near the train station there was a further row of shops which had a Taxi Office. There was always a machine in taxi offices. A lot of the time though there were fruit machines rather than Arcade Cabinets. I was lucky enough that this Taxi office had TWO arcade cabinets. One was Wrestlefest and the other was Midnight Resistance. The smell of that office will always live on with me. It was like a mix between stale carpet, paper and cigarette smoke. But the arcade cabinets were sublime. Two awesome games that were almost on my doorstep meant I was one lucky 11-year-old kid!

FISH & CHIPS

My next port of call is the CHIP SHOP  which was called The SEA SHELL Fish Bar. Now, this shop was a 5-minute drive away and therefore I would only ever go there when my and dad and I would go and get Fish & Chips for everyone. I’d go into the chip shop most Friday’s and they had my favourite football arcade cabinet in there, it was World Cup 90.

The problem was I never had enough time to play the game as dad would want to queue, order, collect and get out of there. So instead of playing my favourite football game, I was a spectator picking up tips and techniques while queueing for fish! 

One week I was treated to my favourite World Cup 90 moment as I watched a guy complete the game whilst I queued. It was brilliant. The ending was awesome and it made me more desperate to find the game closer to home so I could clock it with England

NEXT STOP THE VIDEO RENTAL SHOP


The next stop on my tour of arcade cabinets around my area was the Video Shop in my neighbouring town Chingford. The video shop was a place that I would visit with my friend Paul and his brother Danny when I would go around Paul's house after school. I spent lots of time playing video games with Paul and we'd love spending our pocket money in that video shop on the latest arcade cabinets.

The Video Shop always seemed to be updating their arcade cabinets and the games were normally awesome! Three of my favourites that appeared in the video shop was Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja, Golden Axe and Altered Beast. These were 3 iconic arcade cabinets from the 80's and I loved playing them or just watching them being played. 

Again this shop had its own distinctive smell that I will never forget. This time though it was a lovely smell. It was a clean smell like new carpet mixed with air freshener. It was a nice place to go and play video games although I'm pretty sure we never once rented a video from there!

I think this place was without a doubt my favourite place to play arcade video games. It was always a good atmosphere in there and we'd always see people from our school there as we all took it in turns playing the latest arcade cabs.

THE END OF THE ROAD
So that's the end of my tour. Lots of nostalgia and lots of great memories of some awesome arcade games that were right on my doorstep.

Unfortunately, you could never create that moment in time in today's world although it is fun to remember those times and think of all great times I had playing those games with friends. That was proper local multiplayer!

I love visiting expos like PLAY Expo where there are dozens of arcade cabinets lined up on free play but nothing could replace the feeling of checking a local shop for a hidden arcade game in the most unlikely of settings.

One that I didn't mention above but which always makes me smile was walking into a Kebab Shop in Bishops Stortford with mates and we found that they had a Pool Table AND a Midnight Resistance arcade cabinet! That was a mega find and we were all on a night out so we ended up spending a good hour playing pool and Midnight Resistance!

These finds are now rare if not non-existent. Maybe one day I'll open up my own sweet shop full of penny sweets and arcade cabinets! 

Do YOU Know Of Any Arcade Cabinets That Are Hiding In Unlikely Local Shops?

Let Me Know In The Comments Box Below...

Rich

"STAY FROSTY!"