The Ted Dabney Experience at the Arcade Archive! – The Arcade Blogger

Over here in the UK, the opening of a place where classic arcade titles can be played is always something of an event for those of us in the collecting community. Its probably fair to say that we have a decent number of options across the country now, all within a few hours drive if we want to visit an arcade.

Leading the way is terms of scale, is the pioneer of modern classic arcades, Arcade Club, which now has locations in Bury, Leeds and Blackpool. It is a world class venue and can hold its own with any American classic arcade.

Smaller arcades exist over here, such as Timewarp, High Score Arcades and Four Quarters. All are businesses that rely on footfall and other revenue streams to survive, such as food and beverage.

But we now have something new and different.

Arcade Archive – UK’s newest arcade museum

Alex Crowley is a long standing member of the arcade community (best known for his excellent game room tour videos) who recently had the opportunity to launch an arcade museum. the result is Arcade Archive located in Stroud, Gloucestershire. It positions itself as something more than just a place to play and enjoy classic arcade cabinets – Alex is on a mission to tell stories and share the fascinating history of the arcade industry, with a focus on how arcades survived through the 70s, 80s and 90s.

For me, this is a hugely exciting project, as it gives Alex the space to host talks and presentations giving visitors a real bang for their buck – a reason to go back and visit the museum more regularly than they might otherwise.

This video gives a great overview of Alex’s plans for Arcade Archive and shows you a little of what’s on offer:

The Arcade Archive

I’ve visited a few times now as a punter and can tell you the hype is very real! The space is compact but packs a real punch with a good variety of games with Alex on hand to talk through the cabinets and share some of the history attached to them.

Arcade Archive is located in an old Mill within a beautiful setting in the Cotswolds. The drive there is spectacular from any direction
On arrival, you’ll enter this room where some relics from the Golden Age are on display. Most of these cabinets are work in progress, as Alex and his team of volunteers are working hard to get these cabinets up and running for everyone to experience
Here’s a couple of examples of work in progress machines. Sega’s Gun Fight on the right is an electro-mechanical game that looks amazing – can’t wait to see this fully working again. On the left is the video adaptation of the same game, Midway’s Gun Fight. You can see how Alex is trying to share these connections with the public over time
And this is “Ping Pong” – the UK’s version of Atari’s Pong and Britain’s first video game. Incredible piece of history and you won’t find another on public display anywhere else in the world
More games at the Archive, including a Blue Shark and rare Sea Wolf – both early Midway releases
Another rarity here. Sega’s Gee Bee. This was a recent acquisition, now fully working and playable. Gee Bee was the first video game developed by Namco. Still fun to play, its a Breakout/Pinball crossover
Entering the main room, this is the scene you are presented with

Arcade Archive currently hosts regular sessions over each weekend, with a cap on the number of tickets available, so you’ll always find something to play. The atmosphere is friendly and a great opportunity to meet other players and share tips and stories.

Obvously limited by the space available, Alex does already rotate games in and out. Most of the cabinets are dedicated machines, but with a good amount of Jamma cabinets, allowing more games to be introduced on a regular basis. And of course, everything runs using original hardware and CRT monitors
To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s some of the cabinets you can play. R-L: Nintendo Sheriff (the only one in this country in upright form), Atari’s Missile Command (yay!), Williams Defender, Stern’s Berzerk, Atari Asteroids Deluxe, Atari Tempest, and Gottlieb Q*Bert
Here’s your chance to get hands on with the never-released in arcades, Nintendo Sky Skipper! More info on that cabinet here. Donkey Kong, Elevator Action also in shot
You might recognise these two – my Tempest and Centipede cabarets are on loan to the museum
As well as the big name games, Alex has a good variety of lesser well known titles, like Gremlin/Sega’s Astro Blaster in rare cabaret form and Alca’s Bomber – a scramble clone released by this British manufacturer in the 80s. Alca is a very interesting story and worth checking out when you get there
Another bootleg here – Moon Crest, is a clone of Nichibutsu‘s Moon Cresta. You’re unlikely to find this anywhere else to play
There’s a few drivers to play including OutRun and Sega’s Super Hang-On pictured here

Suffice to say, you won’t be disappointed with the line up at Arcade Archive – plenty to play, including all the hit arcade games you will have heard of. But crucially you get an opportunity to play some titles and machines that you won’t have come across before. Each game has a brief description placed above the cabinet, with a snippet of its history.

And of course being a museum, there’s so much more on offer. Myself and the rest of the Ted Dabney Experience Podcast team were invited to host a talk at Arcade Archive a few weeks back and we jumped at the chance to present the podcast’s ethos, share some clips and stories of some of the guests we’ve had on over the past few years.

L-R: Tony Temple, Alex Crowley, Paul Drury and Richard May
We gave a talk to around 20 people for an hour or so. There was a good mix of regular listeners and people who were new to the podcast

Luckily for you, our talk was filmed. Check it out below:

The Ted Dabney Experience talk at Arcade Archive

This I’m sure will be the first of many talks and presentations at the museum, all designed to create a space where gamers can not only play arcade titles from yesteryear, but also to learn about why and how these classic arcade games were designed and released.

Many thanks to Alex for hosting us. We had a great time and without question picked up a bunch of new listeners. After our talk, we joined everyone downstairs for some arcade gaming.

So that’s Arcade Archive – please check it out when you have time – Alex is doing sterling work getting rare games up and running for the public to enjoy and learn more about.

You can book a session at the museum here.

Hosted in the same building is sister museum The Retro Collective. Focusing more on console and computer based retro gaming, it too is well worth a visit – you can plan your visit to the mill and take in both venues on the same day.

Arcade Archive is an easy ten out of ten for me. Being less than an hour away from home, I expect to be a regular visitor in the coming months. The archive of machines is really growing now, thanks to Alex and a great team of volunteers who all help to keep things running and acquire new exhibits. There are some exciting plans in the months ahead too!

Get your ticket booked and tell Alex I sent you!

Thanks for reading this week – see you next time.


Original article