They normally say that you never forget your first time when it comes to experiences in life and as you get older memories can become just a little cloudy. Now I can’t exactly remember my first time going into 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 30p, which my aunt would always give me every Saturday afternoon, to spend on my pixellated pleasures.
Both of the arcades were in a sleepy sea-side town called Pendine in West Wales (this is where many of the land speed records took place in the 20th Century).
The first in the town centre was a pretty dark place that was lit up with masses of video games that were kept on the premise. You had a handlebar version of Paperboy, Road Blasters, Star Wars, Gorf, Galaga, Outrun and my all-time favourite arcade coin-op, Phoenix. Quite often I would see people grouping together to try and finish a game of Final Fight - as one person left, another would put his 10p in to keep the game going.
The 30p would last me around half an hour and would keep me entertained until it was time to go to pick up the latest Commando comic and sit with my mum and aunt for our lunch, eagerly reading the latest war instalment. Oh how Saturday’s have changed now.
The other arcade in the town was on the sea front - It had a snooker hall through the back. 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 just spin. Every week without fail, I would also get on my bike and cycle the 4-miles with my friend to these arcades. I remember spending afternoons playing Track & Field then checking out the girls on the beach.
With time, both arcades began to get the newer machines in, with Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and Sega Rally Championship becoming regular placements within its four walls.
One of the arcades is now a charity shop selling couches and TV’s; the other is 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.
The time spent at the arcades gave each of us that early passion for gaming which has stayed with us to this very day. The reason we go to events like Revival, is to re-capture and re-live our youth and to introduce our children to what we did as kids. We will never see those times again. I miss the arcades.