Posted by boyo on Feb 15, 2011 19:38 (Feb 15, 2011 19:38)
They normally say that you never forget your first time when it comes to experiences in life, but then as you get older, things can become just a little cloudy. Now I can’t exactly remember my first time of going to an amusement arcade, but what I can remember are the two arcades that I would always hang around in when I was a little tyke and take my 50p, which my aunt would always give me every Saturday afternoon to spend on my pixelated pleasures.
One of the arcades in Tenby was called Leisureland. It was a pretty dark place, but what lit it up were the masses of video games that were kept therein. You had a handlebar version of Paperboy, Road Blasters, with it’s sit in cab, Shadow Dancer, Final Fight and my all-time favourite arcade coin-op, Splatterhouse. Quite often I would see people grouping together to try and finish a game of Final Fight and as one person left, another would put his 10p in to keep the game going and join in with the other guy who had been going from the start.
I used to remember that that 50p would last me around half an hour and would keep me entertained until it was time to go to pick up the latest Transformers comic and sit with my mum and aunt for our lunch, eagerly reading what Optimus Prime had been up to. Oh how Saturday’s have changed now.
Leisureland though was not without it’s bad points. I had a bullying moment there as a group of neds/chavs (call them what you will) literally stole the hat off my head and being a small boy, that hurt a lot.
The other arcade in the town was pretty much right across the road from Leisureland and was called the Cabaret. It had a snooker hall through the back, but let’s be honest, who was interested in that when you had so many games to play, including some absolute classic cabinets. This place had the original Street Fighter machine, complete with the pressure sensitive buttons. It also had one of the original black and white Sprint machines with those steering wheels that you could spin so unrealistically (I mean let’s face it, if you did that in real life, you’d just be finishing a barrel roll spectacular) but of course that didn’t matter. What DID matter was the sheer enjoyment and that’s what the arcades were all about. There’s one particular thing I always remember and that was in the Cabaret. Every week without fail, once I had grown up a little, my friend and me would go into the amusements and play Track & Field pretty much all the time. It was, and still is, one of those games that you could not get enough of playing.
With time, Leisureland began to get the newer machines in, with Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and Sega Rally Championship becoming regular placements within its four walls. The Cabaret tried to get the odd machine in, at one point housing a G.I. Joe machine, but alas it was too little, too late. It shout down about 2 years later and is now a huge charity shop selling couches and TV’s. Leisureland hasn’t really faired much better either. It still exists, but now it is nothing more than a fruit machine haven for all the gamblers and kids who don’t go to school, such is the way of the gaming arcade nowadays.
We should not forget though, all of us, the days we spent down the local gaming emporiums shoving 10p’s into machines like giving morsels to your pet dog. These were some of the core times that helped to give us the passion about the retro gaming scene that we have today, which is why we have to keep it alive at all costs, because I fear that, other than the Retro Ball, we may never see their like again.
Star Zap (or Space Zap - now I don't remember) in the mid 80s, then shooters - my favourite were Tiger Heli, Terra Cresta, Flying Shark, Storming Party (aka LSAD Squad) and Sauro. The last one is terribly hard, even playing easy mode in MAME.