On the weekend of August 16th 2014, I decided to revisit my first ever arcade; a place I hadn’t visited in over 15 years! I have a lot of happy memories there by the seaside, as my parents used to take me each year during the summer holidays from when I was a baby up until the age of about 14/15.
As you can imagine there were quite a few thoughts about how much can change over that amount of time, for better or worse. I was torn about whether it’s better to remember it as it was or take a trip down memory lane. I decided to bite the bullet and check it out. Here’s what I found…
Much to my relief, it was still there! But let me start off with a little bit of background: I can’t exactly remember how old I was when I first visited this arcade. My parents told me that even when I was a baby they used to walk me along the sea front and take me to this arcade. There used to be a big puppet clown in a glass box near the front that would dance to music! If I was rich, I’d search high and low to try and purchase it as I’m sure that’s what started off my love for clowns (more specifically “The Joker”, but let’s not stray too far off topic for now).
When I was a toddler though I’d try and dance in front of it and my parents thought it was adorable. As I grew a little older, my Dad treated me to what I think was my first ever true arcade experience: Afterburner! I remember my dad helping hold me up whilst I controlled the plane. I found the game incredibly exciting as I had never experienced anything like it before. It was a few years ahead of getting/playing my first video games console – the Sega Mega Drive in 1991/1992.
I can still remember a lot of the other games that were there over the years. Some of which include: Mortal Kombat 1 & 2, Super Mario, Operation Wolf (which I wasn’t tall enough to see the screen!) and WWF WrestleFest (or similar? It’s hard to remember which one exactly, but a Google image search looked most like this one). Some of the nearby arcades also had classics like The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Killer Instinct, Outrun, Rail Chase, Super Thunder Blade, Super Hang-On and Street Fighter 2 to name a few.
The arcade is situated at the end of the road, just leading up towards the beach, literally less than a minute away. There’s another arcade opposite which also hasn’t changed much at all, especially on the exterior. Unfortunately for both, most of the games I loved are long gone. Many have been replaced, although there was a couple of oldies scattered around.
One of my other fondest memories of this arcade came a little later in life, when one year we turned up and found House of the Dead. I remember me and my Dad being completely blown away by the graphics and spending loads on playing it! We have since finished 1, 2 and 3. We’ve played 4 on the Wii but never got round to finishing it.
Revising my first ever arcade was in incredibly happy experience. Sure, most of the old games I played and loved are long gone, but I still have the memories! It’s great to know it’s still there and hasn’t really changed much. The day was made even better that I had my family there with me to fully recreate the experience (in celebration of my Dad’s 60th Birthday!)
Look how much we’ve grown! Haha! There’s plenty of other arcades I went to over the years, even though we never really had anything like the arcades that existed in America! Maybe I’ll visit a few more over the next year or so and see how (or if) they’ve changed.
Old Arcade Experiences
I’m also keen to know about your experiences. Did you ever go to arcades when you were younger (either in the UK or anywhere in the world) and if so; what games did you play and what fond memories do you have? Would you ever be tempted to revisit them? Let me know in the comments below!