How I got into this #3 Cornwall, smoke filled arcades and the Dragon’s Lair #C&VG #Dragonslair

My brother’s weak bladder, now and again, had its upsides. It was a
baking hot day in Cornwall and my parents were driving us to Tintagel
castle but not long after setting off my brother needed to stop and
use the toilet. Again. So, my father pulled into a car park on the
side of the road and we got out into a baked yellow field next to a
small cafe. I was ten and there was no gameboy, no DS to fix my
addiction. I remember sitting in the car watching those miles of
tarmac, looping around our family holidays, approach and pass
hypnotically as I dreamed about various computer and video games.

A particular theme for me and my fellow dreamers was the realisation
of ‘Arcade Quality’ games at home. This was the holy grail, Tintagel
could go fall in the sea for all I cared (I think bits of it actually
have now). What we obsessed over were those few pages in Computer and
Video Games (C&VG) which were dedicated to “Arcade Action” and their
lusty promises that next year could see a home machine capable of
producing the same adrenaline inducing highs we got from seeing those
hi-res, high-velocity games. It was unrequited and we wanted
requiting.

My mum took my brother Cris to the toilet and I left my father leaning
against our silver Escort, rolling his Golden Virginia. I wandered
over to a small outbuilding next to the cafe, probably kicking massive
clouds of red dust and huffing as I went. Stupid castle. Stupid brother.
etc.

Then I saw it. It was a new holy grail. It was a game that looked like
a cartoon. Or a cartoon that looked like a game. What was this
witchcraft? It was, of course, this:

I sprinted across the parched field back to my father leaving a plume
of dust like Roadrunner.

“Dad, I need 50p!”

As you can imagine, in 1983, 50pence was a lot of money. You could
buy a 3 bed suburban semi back then. Luckily, I think my
father just wanted to smoke his rollup in peace so there was a little
bargaining done and he flipped me a 50 pence piece – it was probably
in exchange for me not whining all the way up Tintagel’s many many
steps (seriously, it’s a crazy amount of steps). I raced back and put
the money in the bright yellow box of magic.

The introduction was incredible. I was playing a bloody movie. And
then of course my “go” ended as quickly as it started. I didn’t really
have time to work out what to do. I was just happy to bask in its mind
bending, money pinching majesty.

I walked those steps to Tintagel in monastic silence wondering what
else was possible. Anything, as it turned out. 


See and download the full gallery on posterous

p.s. I’ve got the day off today and I’m taking the children to Barry Island, a place that still has amusement arcades and the place where I first remember hearing ‘that’ Star Wars game…

[update] Had a fantastic day trawling around the arcades on Barry Island, too many fruit machines these days, but still found a few gems (below)


The Simpsons, a bit knackered but still lovely.


The absolutely classic Outrun. Sadly waiting for an engineer to cheer her up.


Sega’s F-Zero AX and Ferrari F355


Bang Bang Bang


Terminator Salvation, really enjoyed this. Yeah, it’s operation wolf with some nice grainy gfx but it’s got massive riffles to point at the screen. Brilliant. 

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