After a couples of months of planning for a group of likeminded individuals to get together and head to an awesome arcade in Bridgwater for a full on gaming session - that day had finally arrived.
Guest Review by @Kingdomofcarts
Saturday at 8am I was woken up by the piercing tone of my phone alarm, the kind of frantic alarm that sends your body to wake up but in a sweat-like panic. After the realisation that my alarm was urging me to get up for an awesome fun dayout filled with games, good company and arcade machines and was not my usual alarm for work, I skipped to get ready for the busy day ahead.
I have never been to Bridgwater before and so I was definitely looking forward to it, especially as I've only been told (mostly by Britt) how cool this little independent arcade is that he visited on our friend's stag do a year ago, I felt that I really needed to visit this magical place.
Despite being asked by people, 'why on earth would you want to go there?'.
After a full on session of outrun being played on vinyl (thank you Data Discs), the album had finished just in time for Britt and I to head out. 9am arrived and we took a taxi into town to meet up with our friends who were also eagerly awaiting the Bridgwater visit.
During the ride, the taxi driver asked where we were heading off too, Britt excitedly responded by saying that we were meeting a group of friends in town and heading to Bridgwater for the day. The taxi driver was taken aback when Britt had explained this and replied 'there's nothing in Bridgwater, why would you want to go there?' We explained that they had a small gaming community and that there was an arcade there which housed around 50 original arcade machines from back in the day. Again, he still responded by basically saying, 'Oh well, each to their own' and thought it was a bit strange. After the short taxi ride we all met up in a local pub for some breakfast ready to set us up for a day of gaming.
I was a bit worried as the day was St Patrick's day and there was a big rugby game (Wales and France) kicking off at 5pm that the town centre would be quite hectic, especially the bar we had sat at for breakfast. Surprisingly, I think we got there early enough to miss out on the crowds. A full English later it was almost time and we ventured out to the station to get on the train.
10am and we were on the train to Bridgwater, some of us were armed with hand-held games consoles that would help the journey go by quite quickly, however I had forgotten to take my Nintendo DS, luckily a friend had brought his PS Vita along with Mortal Kombat in tow so the 2 hour journey was basically spent by the ten of us passing back and forth the Vita and completing the fights, eventually defeating Shang Tsung, how awesome! 11.45 and it was time to get off the train and we were greeted with a white carpet of snow.
It set the scene for the magical day of nostalgia that lay ahead. After a few attempts at finding our feet on the trusty Google maps we were headed in the right direction. Although the arcade was just around the corner, I couldn't hold back, I HAD to pop into the local retro game store that was right next door to Timewarp arcade.
This store (Insane Games) was full of retro goodness, although they were in the middle of a move to another location nearby, so stock was limited.
Greeted by a friendly gentleman, we had a five minute chat and I purchased a copy of Sonic and Knuckles boxed on the Mega Drive (our copy just doesn't work even with the blow method) for a decent price along with 15 percent discount to top it off.. bargain.
I picked up another couple of Mega Drive games, Dino Dini's Soccer and Super Monaco GP. I knew that I had this game on Mega Games 3, but I didn't have the single version of it boxed (how sad). The one thing that was different about this store was the actual prices of the games they were selling were significantly lower than some retro game shops that I have visited, such as CEX and some local retro games stores.
Tucked away around the corner of the shop was every retro gamer's dream, a fully-fledged arcade full to the brim with arcade machines. It definitely had a 90s feel about the place and when I stepped in I felt right at home. It was like being teleported back in to the nineties! The cost of the ticket was £6.50 for as many goes of the machines as you wanted as they were all set to free-play mode.
It even had a little tuck shop selling drinks, crisps & sweets, it definitely was a dream for me. As you go in, to the right you were greeted with a beautiful bright yellow Crazy Taxi Sega cabinet from 2002 and a 1999 Virtua Tennis arcade cabinet.
Opposite these were around 15 cabs that were in the middle of being restored, they were likes of the 1981 arcade machine Defender, NAMCO's Ninja Assault from 2000 and Konami's Racing Jam: Chapter 2.
Further along there were a few pinball machines, one being Lethal Weapon 3 from 1992 by Data East, (I spent a good 30 minutes playing on this machine it featured awesome sounds & speech from the movie's stars) to start the game saw you pressing the trigger of a gun.
This game was very addictive, I love pinball games but I'm still yet to own one.
Next to Lethal weapon was the 1995 light gun arcade game Virtua Cop 2, so around 20 minutes waere spent with one of our friends shooting criminals before the time ran out and occasionally shooting a civilian by mistake… oops.
They had an Aliens Extermination cab based on the Alien franchise which was released in 2007, such a cool 2 player coop game featuring colonial marines using grenades, missiles and an M41- pulse rifle. This game featured four levels, however I only spent around 5 minutes on this as I was excitedly wanting to play on the next game.
Further along they had the 1992 side scrolling fighting game 'X-men', I didn't manage to have a go of this as I had forgotten to go back to it as I was distracted by so many other arcade cabinets, however Britt managed to have a go to which I stood and watched for 5 minutes until spotting Konami's Fighting Mania from 2000. This game was quite addictive and is a game of speed and dexterity.
After putting on your fighting gloves, you basically play a guy named Kenshiro, the Fist of the North Star, traveling across the land fighting the minions of Shin, your old martial arts schoolmate, now turned to evil. The cabinet has six punch pads that flip out towards you when you come into contact with an onscreen opponent.Once you hit the pad they flip back and another pops out at random, this game was quite fun to play but I was quite conscious of the noise made when I hit the pads and felt like I was damaging the machine somehow.
The two player racing game by Sega, Outrunners from 1993 I just had to have a go of, although I lost the race, it was really fun to play. I love the little sound system radio to the left of the wheel, it was just like being in a car and trying to keep your eyes on the road while you decide to flip tracks for your journey.
At the back of the room, after passing various other cabinets they had two pool tables and an air hockey table.
I challenged Britt to a game as wherever we go anywhere and we find an air hockey game, we just have to have a go... I won.
Along with my friend Vin, we sat down and played through Golden Axe 2, we played as Ax Battler and Tyris Flare. We managed to complete the game after what only felt like 10 minute!
We defeated Death Adder and managed to get to see the finishing screen with the three children playing on an arcade cabinet and then running away after all of the enemies jumping out of the arcade screen. Rolling Extreme by Gaeloc was another fun cabinet I had a quick blast on, in the game you race to avoid obstacles on a street luge.
Walking around the corner, it was constantly in my eye line… I just had to have a go of Dancing Stage Supernova from 2006 by Konami. I hadn't played a dance machine since I owned a copy of Dance Stage Euromix in 2000 for the Playstation 1. I used to spend countless hours on the game, my favourite songs to dance to on the game were Buggles- Video Killed the Radio Star, Mucho Mambo Sway and End of the Century.This time I danced to Jerk It Out by Caesars but gave up around 1 minute in to the game, it's surprisingly quite hard so I got frustrated and left the machine, ha ha!
After a few hours of gaming while everyone else ventured off to th eFountain pub, I ventured off and visited a few of the charity shops, along with Cash Converters. Whilst heading down the street, a shop that I was unaware of (as we had Googled 'retro game shops in Bridgwater') had caught my eye.
It was a shop called Entertainment Zone and after walking in I could tell that it really was an entertainment zone! Full of nostalgia in the way of toys, memorabilia and games from all decades, this was a little treasure trove and reasonably priced, too!
This is when i became the proud owner of an Amstrad GX4000 along with a Sega Pro-Master 2 guide as well as Andre Agassi tennis on the Mega Drive and Gran Turismo on the PS3, the anniversary edition.
I headed back to the arcade for some more gaming and tried to have a go of every single machine, they had a little set up of sofas on the left hand side of the room and one was set up with a TV and the Wii U, which played Mario Kart 8, which I spent about 20 minutes on.
The others were set up with old school CRT TVs and had a PS1 and a Sega Saturn connected up to it, such a lovely idea.
After some more gaming, I sat down in the seats by the main desk and was chatting to a friend when I was constantly distracted by a guy in my eye line who was on the Dance Stage Supernova machine, this guy was clearly playing on 'expert mode' as the moves he were doing were hard to keep up with, he had clearly played this machine before!
This guy was phenomenal and probably one of the greatest most dedicated gamers I've come across! I don't think that I have seen anyone like him before, he completely nailed the game. It turned out that he visits the arcade once a week and challenges himself on the dance machine, I'm not sure whether he has entered competitions or not but he definitely should with his level of skill at the game, he turned out to be a lovely guy too, bonus.
After a few more goes of Pengo (and getting frustrated) it was almost time to leave to catch our train back, I could have honestly stayed a good few more hours in this place, it was every gamers' dream, jam packed full of arcades, you could actually play a game through without worrying that you had spent too much money popping in those ten pence pieces into the machine.
It had a great atmosphere and really friendly staff, this place is definitely a hidden gem and I can't wait to go back to visit in the future… which will probably be quite soon if I'm honest.
Guest Review by @Kingdomofcarts
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