9 Awesome Amusement Arcades
From pinball machines to claw cranes, from air hockey tables to pachinko – amusement arcades around the world offer an irresistible blend of child-like fun and a chance of hitting the big jackpot. Here are nine bright spots to liven up your next road trip.
Recreate holidays from your childhood in Margate. No, really – Dreamland has been ‘re:imagined’ by former Red or Dead fashion designer Wayne Hemingway, and it’s everything you remember from those two week caravan holidays by the sea. Dodgems, amusement arcades, fun fairs, Punch & Judy, fish and chips and even ‘hook a duck’. Forget boutique hotels or luxury glamping, treat your inner child to a retro break in Margate for some good, old fashioned fun.
Margate – Barry Lewis
Red Bank, New Jersey, USA
Boasting a huge list of arcade and pinball games, YESTERcades is New Jersey’s hotspot for working on your gamer’s pallid skin tone. Play games dating back as far as 1979 or if all that low-tech 2D gaming starts to get you yearning for a little comic book action; you can nip down the street to the popular comic venue – ‘Jay and Bob’s Secret Stash’. Nerd heaven.
Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan
This Japan chain selling retro video games has turned their flagship Tokyo store into a wonderland for vintage gaming fans. The third and fourth floors are crammed with long forgotten merch from console history, but the main action is on the fifth floor. A small, but well kept, collection of classic arcade machines are wedged in under a faux leaf canopy with a life-size model of Metal Gear’s Solid Snake keeping watch should any trouble kick off.
Maruhan Shinjuku Toho Building
Long before the frantic, pixelated, electronic arcade games Japan was obsessed with another type of gaming – Pachinko. A hypnotic form of pinball gambling, Pachinko uses the flipper and ball concept in a similar way. Steel balls drop vertically through the machine as players try to amass more balls for a higher score and bigger payout, though Japan’s gambling laws mean balls won must be exchanged for tokens and cashed in at a separate location. Home to over 1,000 machines, Maruhan is a vibrant, hub of pinging, clinking, neon evolved from simplistic Japanese gaming history.
Whether you’re an 8-bit purist or virtual gaming addict, there’s something for every gamer at the world’s first museum for computer games. With 50 consoles from the last three decades and super-rare arcade machines this museum goes way beyond being your typical fusty artefact shrine. Interactive areas are dotted through the exhibits, allowing you to play while you learn about the history of seminal classics such as Tomb Raider. Worth a visit to be able to play the mythical ‘Nimrod’, which dating back to the 1950s, claims be the first ever computer game.
Berlin – Hanno Böck
Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
St. Petersburg, Russia
If rare games are your bag then this museum in Russia will blow your mind. Packed full of titles from the mid 70s, unheard of in the mainstream market, the museum is dedicated to preserving Russian gaming history. As arcades closed down and machines started to decay, three gamer buddies knew that their beloved pastime must be saved. Their days are now spent continuously repairing cabinets and tired joypads so that visitors to the museum can enjoy some old-timey Russian pixels.
St. Petersburg – Hanno Böck
Heart of Gaming
Deep in the wilds of a North Acton industrial estate lies a ‘rescue home’ for abandoned arcade machines. Salvaged when Piccadilly’s Trocadero and Casino closed, the venue may not have history but the cabinets housing the games do. With over 20 years experience, Mark Starkey, Heart of Gaming’s owner, is as much a part of London’s arcade scene as the games. Play on the lovingly restored machines and vie for the highly coveted Donkey Kong top score with some of London’s top gamers.
Pinball Hall of Fame
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The clue is very much in the title of this Vegas arcade – which takes up 10,000 square feet of Nevada real estate – and is chock-full of restored pinball machines from the 50s through to the 90s. Close to the Strip, this is a chance to experience something a little more innocent in America’s Sin City. Ok, so you can’t scoop your fortune, but you can have fun without losing your shirt. Every restored machine is in pristine condition and playable for 25 – 50 cents a go. Flip and bump your way to pinball wizardry and do your bit for charity. PHoF is also a non-profit – another rare find in Vegas.
Las Vegas – Chris Ainsworth
Taito Hey (Also just called ‘Hey’)
Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan
Immersing yourself in the competitive world of fighting games at Taito Hey is about as close as you’ll get to time travel. Old school gamers battle it out on classic fighters alongside next-gen upstarts hammering the buttons of the latest shoot-em-ups. With no high speed broadband required, Hey gives you the chance to relive the good old days where you could kick some gaming butt while looking your opponent square in the eye. Hey’s vast collection mixes the modern and retro – and includes classics like Tetris, for the more mild mannered gamer in us all.