Arcade Club: Europe’s largest Classic Arcade!

I’m not sure how clear it is from the blog, but for the record, I live in the United Kingdom. Given that much of the arcade Golden Age was centered around the USA, we were very much the poorer cousins of arcade related activity both back in the 80s and indeed today. Many arcade releases never made it over here, especially from some of the smaller manufacturers, and those games that were distributed on these shores were in much smaller numbers.

To give you an idea of just how barren the arcade scene is over here, I’d estimate that there are no more than a dozen known upright Missile Command machines over here in collectors’ hands. That’s not to say there aren’t more out there somewhere, but I’d be very surprised if more than 20 exist anywhere in the UK today. For you arcade enthusiasts residing in the USA, this must sound completely incomprehensible.

But what we’ve not had over here is our equivalent of a Funspot or Galloping Ghost Arcade – a place you can go to play a good number of classic arcade cabinets under one roof. Even the ‘Barcade’ phenomenon hasn’t really made traction over here, but look hard enough and you will find a smattering of classic cabinets and pinball around to play. But if you want a one stop arcade packed to the rafters with an abundance of arcade cabinets, you either rely on the hospitality of other collectors, willing to set up a social meet, or go along to one of the larger retro events that take place around the country every once in a while, where a lineup of machines might be available for the public to play.

But this all changed recently. Arcade Club in Bury, near Manchester, is the brainchild of Andy Palmer. Andy has been collecting classic arcade cabs for over 20 years now – his current tally is (wait for it) an astonishing 300+ machines. And what better way to properly house such a huge collection, than to open the doors on a large warehouse space for the general public to visit, grab a pint or two and play them!

Arcade Club Bury

Whatever your expectations when visiting Arcade Club for the first time, you are almost certainly going to be very impressed indeed. It is clear from the moment you walk into the room that Andy has a solid grasp on what people want to see, and the passion he has for his business shines through – both in terms of the volume and variety of cabinets, but also their condition. Entering the main arcade area, you are greeted with this sight:

Arcade Club Entrance
A sight you’ll rarely see these days.
Jamma Row
A long row of Goliath Jamma arcade machines at Arcade Club

What is even more impressive, is you’ll be hard pushed to find a game in the whole place not working – keeping hundreds of old arcade machines working takes some effort (heck I can barely manage my modest collection). Walking further into the arcade you will find a great selection of pinball machines across the back wall:

Pinball 2
X Files, Metallica, Twilight Zone and Party Zone Pinballs!
Pinball 1
Rollergames, Scared Stiff, Judge Dredd, Whitewater, Funhouse and Elvira Pinballs

Turn around and walk down the middle area of the arcade, and you’ll find the classics section. This is made up of games from the early 80s era ‘The Golden Age’ if you will:

DKJR
Donkey Kong Jnr, Cristal Castles, Carnival & Gorf
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Donkey Kong 3, Asteroids, Centipede, Galaxian & Tron
32827744435_7210d27562_z
Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Gyruss, Stargate & Robotron
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Ms Pac-Man, Space Invaders Pt 2, and the underrated Space Zap!
Zaxxon
Zaxxon, Frogger in the foreground and a Star Wars Cockpit taking centre stage

There’s more. Lots more. name the cab and it’s probably here. Much of my visit was spent in this section, and really sums up Arcade Club – everything is here under one roof.

Moving on (there’s more!). A good selection of modern-day drivers can be found in the top corner, including a beautiful Outrun Deluxe:

Outrun Deluxe
A Sega Outrun Deluxe

And then this. Andy has collected together a variety of Japanese candy cabs housing bullet hell shooters and fighting games. Very impressive indeed:

Candy Cabs
The Candy Cab area at Arcade Club

Some really obscure stuff can be found in this section:

Bishi Bashi
A Bishi Bashi housed in an Astro City cab

The bar area doesn’t escape the influx of arcade cabinets. So grab a pint, settle down and play some of these classics:

Classic arcade
Gravitar, Donkey Kong, Amidar, Berzerk, Pengo, Scramble, Star Wars & Nintendo Red Tent!

Since visiting Arcade Club a few months back, Andy has taken on more space, and opened up another floor area in the building, just for adults. As well as more arcade cabinets, the space plays host to several gaming tournaments, with LAN setups and consoles spread across the room.

Arcade Club Floor 2 a
The newly-opened adults-only floor of Arcade Club
Arcade Club Floor 2
Grab a headset and get fragging!

I’ve taken those images from Arcade Club’s Twitter feed. Rather than me try to describe what’s there, take a look at this video uploaded by the splendid chaps from Ten Pence Arcade podcast:

Andy was kind enough to show me round the storage areas of his business. I snapped a few rarities waiting to be restored and pushed out to the floor:

Williams Bubbles
A Euro Williams Bubbles cab. Super super rare
Sidam Missile Storm
A Sidam Missile Storm (Bootleg Missile Command). I think this one came from the Duke of Lancaster Ship

You need spares? Arcade Club has spares!

CRT Monitors
Spare CRT monitors. Essential!
Blast City
Blast City cabinets waiting to go out on the floor

Here’s a quick walk-through of the whole place, which gives you an idea of what’s there:

So there you go. Arcade Club is a huge classic arcade candy store. You’ll be back several times! If you live here in the UK, you need to make the effort to get there and check it out. Andy is constantly improving the lineup, with new cabinets being added all the time.

You’ll pay an admission fee – adults £10, kids £5 – but the good news is that all games are set to free play and you can stay and play as long as you like. The fully stocked bar (food is available too) means you can have a break and chat and socialize with other gamers.

For directions, opening times and everything else you need to know, do check out the website here or follow Arcade Club on Facebook here. There’s always something going on tournament-wise.

Many thanks to Andy for the impromptu tour, and in a wider sense for making this great place happen for the UK community. Do go and support Arcade Club, it really is very impressive and deserves every success.

I’ll be at Arcade Club again next weekend, to witness the UK reveal of the Sky Skipper project cabinet – I wrote about that here – a full report on proceedings will be coming soon on Arcade Blogger, together with some updated pics of the arcade (I might even use my flash this time if you’re lucky).

See you next week.

Tony

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. neil1637 says:

    It truly is an outstanding place that grabs your attention from the minute you enter, whether you are a collector, enthusiast, gamer or long suffering wife!
    You’ll see a noticeable difference next weekend though. Andy does like to keep adding and changing, which is great for those of us lucky enough to visit a few times each year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon Johnson says:

    I was there a few weeks ago to cap off a stag do in Manchester before the drive home. Entirely satisfying weekend for me as arcades had come and gone before I was old enough to have experienced one! An absolute gem of a place, getting to sit and play through the whole of Space Harrier (I loved the Mega Drive sequel as a child) has been a highlight of the year and has had me keep an eye on eBay just in case…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Backers says:

    Tilt in Oslo has 1200+ machines in store, with 120 for public use at all time according to this news article (Try google translate).: http://www.pressfire.no/nyheter/PC/12328/I-en-kjeller-i-Oslo-finner-du-n-dette

    Liked by 1 person

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