EDIT: Too good to be true of course, Astro was basically made on it’s community support, and a very unappreciative owner and lack of profits going to the right places means that community support has decided to take it’s cabs elsewhere. The IIDX, Pop’n and DDR have all moved as of 18/09/2015
The arcade scene in the UK has been on the decline for a while now, we lost the segaworld some 15 years ago, then more recently we lost the Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus, widely regarded as the best (or at least, largest) UK arcade – it had a nice variety of games, and some niche titles which are rare in the UK like fighting mania and DJmax Technika. As mentioned though, it’s gone now, some of the machines got moved over to other arcades, I know for example that the Technika machine got moved to ‘Las Vegas’ arcade in Soho.
So anywho, assuming you live around the London area, your primary choices for actual good Arcades are:
Las Vegas Soho – Has a large Pump It Up community, along with some fighting games (Tekken and SF4) and as previously mentioned the DJmax technika machine is also here now, it has since been upgraded to Technika 3. I believe they also have a DDR X2 as well.
Heart Of Gaming, in Far West London – Operating on a pay on entry system, and with a strong Fighting Game community.
And finally, the feature of the article.
Astro City, Southend – It is pretty far out for proper Londoners, but for those who live on the east side, or have reasonable access to the M25, Astro City is maybe an hour or so drive away, Parking is abundant and approx £1-£2.20, or free on Sundays. Why would you actually want to go there though? Astro City is currently the best place in the UK for Rhythm Games.
This is, to my knowledge, the only place in the UK where you can play IIDX or Pop’N on an actual cab, and at 50p a play it’s a fantastic way to improve your play, being than even many asian arcades where the games are more commonplace. the IIDX and DDR cabs are also connected to ProgrammedWorld, a system which emulates the asian Eamuse function – this basically allows for stat tracking and progression within the games, along with giving you a user profile and letting you compete against other players on the system. For example, finishing a song in IIDX will mark it as completed and put your score on a board and show where you place amongst other people in that arcade who have played that song. It’s a fantastic way to drive a community, and through the arcade I’ve already met many likeminded people – and though we may have only said a few words, there’s something about asserting your authority over someone you briefly met 3 weeks ago.
If you are in the area, give it a go – the games have somewhat of a learning curve but are immensely satisfying once you get into them, and at the prices they are, you actually have a chance to get good at the games, or play around and do dumb shit you might not otherwise try – Why not give doubles a try on the pump machine? That right there is some wild shit.