Sunday, 23 September 2018

Arcades on the Lincolnshire coast

Midway through the summer of 2018, I was on holiday in Skegness, UK.
Having been visiting here for 10 years running with my family, I've developed a great deal of familiarity with it, and eventually, its arcades, arguably just as they were dying. These seven days chart my assessment of them with knowledge of how they'd once been:

Day 1

Soon after arriving, I gave a visit to The Mirage in Mablethorpe.
Notably, Mirage takes up an entire block's worth of space. It was originally about a quarter of this size, with a second arcade, Funland, next door to it, however in the mid 2010s it engulfed this and a car park to the back of it, constructed a new entrance, and generally smartened itself up, looking cleaner and brighter.
Through this expansion, it was reborn into a Family Entertainment Centre/FEC in the same vein of American locations like Dave & Busters. Instead of just being a standard seaside arcade, it now contains other activities such as bowling, a cafe, an indoor play centre, etc. Most important though is the greater emphasis on ticket redemption, and the sidelining of actual gambling machines to over 18's areas for the most part- while it can be argued redemption itself is a gateway drug into that sort of thing, it does have a more family-friendly image.

And the games? Well, a big location deserves big machines I think, and upon walking through its left entrance, the first sight doesn't disappoint: a 4 car OutRun 2 SP SDX.
In all honesty, this machine really is a thing of wonder, with 4 hydraulic plastic replicas of Ferrari cars, cameras, and unique "Driver Change" mode, which enables 2 player co-op while driving.
OR2 SDX is still quite new to The Mirage, only arriving a few years ago after the changes had been made to it, meaning everything is still in fairly decent working order. Sadly the same can't be said for other SDX installations I have seen, some of which also in Skegness. But this is a definite standout among the locations in the area, and one that shouldn't be missed if you're around.
There were a few other racing games in the arcade, all of which were set up for 3 or 4 player races- including Mario Kart GP DX, and Taito's now scarcely-seen Battle Gear 4. A great game, but the cabs were sadly starting to show their age, with two switched off, and the other couple looking more than a little worn.
But also, to the right of Mario Kart was an older racer, Sega Touring Car Championship. Strangely, this cab appeared out of nowhere last year, and although they may well have had one during the 90s, I certainly don't recall it being here for the past few years.
Touring Car was in a mostly pretty good way, but as for another older Sega racer at the back, less so- this 3 screen F355 Challenge has actually been at this place for as long as I can remember, and has been looking pretty old and worn for quite a while to boot.
One of the 3 CRTs wasn't working, and the other two weren't looking great either with bad burn-in. The controls all did appear to be working, but the experience just isn't complete without all of the screens working.
Two 'retro classics' reborn- World's Largest Pac-Man and Space Invaders Frenzy machines, both right next to each other. Yet it could be argued these are more style over substance, with their large, eye-catching LED displays, but poor quality parts, as well as an emphasis on ticket redemption in the latter game. 

As a last stand for a link to a bygone era, Mirage previously had a standard Midway multicab with games such as Mortal Kombat and Rainbow Island. However, it was removed not long ago, despite the retro revival still going strong in many quarters. A retro gaming shop just one street away from the arcade also recently closed up; perhaps a seaside town isn't always the right market for that type of thing.

I left after another credit on OutRun 2 SP, but planned to return the following day to cover more of Mirage's machines and come to a wider conclusion on the site, as well as check up on the rest of the locations in Mablethorpe.

Day 2
Walking down the seafront to the arcades, I passed Mablethorpe's fairground. I remembered that place had an arcade onsite, but it closed down a couple years ago. I took a quick look to see if just maybe things had changed- they hadn't, mostly.
The building's shutters were all closed up, except for one, feebly blocked off by a line of seats. Even from the small glimpse I got of the inside, it was obvious that that all the machines were all still in there, switched off and gathering dust.
I could spot what seemed to be a Dancing Stage Euromix 2 dedicab, but little else in the way of games. The fact that they'd closed the arcade up and not even bothered to bin or sell the machines off may be a sad indictment of where the level of caring is at for some people.

Speaking of DDR, I returned to The Mirage to see if their cabs were still there. For several years, their lineup has been the same- the long standing staple, Euromix 2, and the similarly dated but slightly fresher X2.
I tried X2 first. Unfortunately, with it being a Raw Thrills/Betson manufactured cab, the quality was poor; the usual sunken pads, broken sensors, and bugs that plague these machines. The Mirage aren't at fault for this- it's partially Konami's for not allocating Western production of their game to a generally trustworthy company like Uniana, and Raw Thrills' for not giving DDR special treatment. It's worth saying that other arcades in the area did once have these cabs too, but soon got rid over the dwindling playerbase and shoddy parts, a testament to how DDR is now far from alive and kicking in this country.

Meanwhile, despite it being a much older mix, with a less substantial amount of songs and fewer features, EM2 somewhat made up for X2. It's been a fixture in the arcade for years now, with the sound turned up considerably high, and pads usually always working fine. It also being set to 2 credits for £1 helped massively; too many arcades don't bother making that change for the older games in their lineup. I would be far more inclined to play them if they did.

This time, I also gave The Mirage's shooters a proper look. There's always been a pretty high turnover rate of these in particular, games like Time Crisis 4, Luigi's Mansion Arcade, and Sega's uncommon 2 player shooter 2Spicy being some that have come and gone in the space of just a few years.
The two newest releases Mirage currently have are Jurassic Park Arcade (2015), and The Walking Dead (2017). Both licenced properties, both released by the previously mentioned Raw Thrills, both utilising a system of ramping the difficulty up considerably after 5 minutes of play. They're big hits with casuals, and substantial money makers for locations, of course, but offer little appeal to others.
Besides those, there was also Sega's Rambo and Shhh... Welcome To Frightfearland, or to put it more simply, Panic Museum 2, the haunted theme park sequel to Taito's 2010 shooter blatantly based on the 'Night At The Museum' film franchise. Both are decent, but weren't in the best condition (Rambo having been converted to a smaller LCD screen since last year, Frightfearland having some lag problems).
Probably the best shooter there was Lost Land Adventure by Namco. Using the same curved projection screen as the Gundam and Star Wars pods, it fully immerses you in the game, and its passcode system allows for more replayability than most of its contemporaries. Thankfully this was in good condition overall, though the screen was starting to get a little washed out.
Finally, one broken old Big Buck Hunter cab, which no-one seemed to care about fixing during the entire time I was there. I had no real desire to play it anyway, but it is a bit of a waste of space while it's like this, and I would expect better from an arcade trying to present itself as a clean, family-oriented tourist destination. 

One more thing- some more perceptive readers may have noticed card readers present on some of the machines. These of course were for the card payment system the arcade has integrated this year, being the standard "Intercard" network setup.
Related image
I'm all for arcades adapting to this, even if they still offer cash payment, but there were notable flaws in their integration of this system, the biggest one being their exclusive availability to the prize shop. Every other arcade I've been in with the system have usually installed easy to find card stations, where new ones could be purchased and existing ones could be topped up. The Mirage didn't have any of these, which meant you had to go up to the prize desk and ask, sometimes while the employee was busy with people exchanging tickets.

This is exactly how not to implement this payment system. For people to actually use it, continue to use it, and to ensure no loss is made, arcades must create visible promotion, and make it clear and easy where to get cards from. The concept is still largely new to most consumers, despite having been around for a while, and for it to actually take off, a proper effort must be made.

Consequently, money has been wasted on a system that few will utilise, money that could've been used on buying more new machines. I personally couldn't be bothered with obtaining a card from that prize desk, despite credit prices appearing to be lower on some machines if paid through one, and you can't expect your average tourist to be either if this is the situation here.

Last year, Mirage seemed like the best arcade in Mablethorpe, with all its machines maintained well, and new ones bought regularly, but it has gone down in my estimation this year. Whether it returns to form remains to be seen, but still, having said that, its OutRun 2 SP SDX is still a sight to behold.

Onto the other arcades then. Unfortunately, I was to find out that things had changed at these locations too, and not for the good.
If little else, Jacksons Amusements still had a fairly good lineup of racing games in recent years, including Manx TT, Sega Rally 2, and Daytona USA 2 cabs, and even an uncommon F-Zero AX deluxe. Yet all of their games have disappeared in the past couple years, leaving only the usual redemption and gambling machines.
I can't even recall when Family Amusements last had any video games, and City Of Gold stood as the only arcade out of all of these with them, a standard 2 player Mario Kart.
Further down the street was Empire Amusements, an arcade with similarly thin gruel and also one with an indoor play centre for children tagged onto it. Needless to say, I didn't give it my time.

From this impression of arcades, one would most definitely think games were mostly dead, only barely suggested to exist in the vast, clean space of The Mirage, revitalised and turned into almost a leisure centre, with large centrepieces like OutRun 2 almost like side attractions to the main draw of ticket redemption. Traditional venues however appear to be ditching them entirely now, after a slow culling of traditional stuff for more flashy cabinets in the previous decade. Whether this sets a precedent for the rest of the area, we'll see.

Day 3

Now, I was making the trek to Chapel St Leonards, a town on the comparatively more quaint side of things, though still with its fair share of usual seaside haunts, including arcades.
I first had a look in Millers Leisure Centre. At some point in the past few years, it was bought by Teenspirit, who also operate the Tower Arcade and BJ's Leisure World arcades in Skegness and Ingoldmells, among others. 
There hadn't been a major refresh of it's games until recently, with older titles like Daytona USA 2 and House Of The Dead 2 being replaced by their newer counterparts, alongside the usual Raw Thrills cabs and Namco's Razing Storm, which appeared to have a serious screen fault. Questionable maintenance on machines, games pushed to the sideline while redemption took prominence; a better state of affairs than Mablethorpe's conventional arcades, with at least some attempt made to keep up, but still pretty poor.
Directly across the road was Greens Amusements, which didn't look like it had been updated in over 30 years- indeed, inside was some outdated decor, a out of order bowling alley, and a tiny prize shop to accommodate the few redemption pieces they had. The rest of the space was taken over by ancient gambling machines.
The only video game in the vicinity was, fittingly, an old one- the original Sega Rally Championship. There are surprisingly still a few of these about in arcades, despite the game almost being 25 years old and often in pretty bad condition. Will today's games have that same longevity?
If you took one look at this cab, you could immediately tell it was utterly battered. A discoloured CRT, shredded steering wheel, desecrated decals, silent speakers. But, at 50p a play, you can't say no to a timeless game like this.
The right side was the least worn overall, and I did even manage to complete all three courses a couple of times when playing it. Didn't reach the extra Lakeside track and get on the leaderboard, mind. I'm not sure it reflects well on these arcades when one of the more fun times I've had in them is playing a 20+ year old machine though.

A little further out of town, a few other arcades reside, including Fun Spot, Cashcade, and Carnivale, but none of these had any noteworthy games. Carnivale, once known as Happy Days, did use to have some older titles like Sega Touring Car, Marvel Super Heroes, and even a rare Namco Starblade, but those all vanished a few years back after a refurbishment.

If that was it for Chapel, I wouldn't recommend coming there unless you wanted to play some Sega Rally. No, the real highlight of the town's arcades (and arguably overall) was yet to come.

Day 4

Instead of giving the arcades in the town centre another visit, I focused on spending my time entirely in the on-site arcade at the Golden Palm holiday park a few minutes out of town.
Having done a large cull of its older, somewhat mediocre lineup, the arcade now had several high quality, generally recent releases, including newer Namco games like Time Crisis 5 and the standard version of Star Wars Battle Pod, as well as a couple of older Sega titles, the almighty OutRun 2 and After Burner Climax. All the games were in very good condition and clearly maintained well, which is always nice to see.
But mainly I was here for one game and one game only- Dance Dance Revolution Ace.
After years of not getting decent DDR cabs in Europe, the release of Ace this year has been a revelation-  we may not have the e-Amusement online service (and probably never will by the looks of things), but the last time we had a DDR machine with both quality parts and a decent song list was Supernova, which was 2006. Since then, the community has died arguably twice over, and this was exactly what its remnants needed to keep going.
I've been stuck with older mixes like Euromix 2 and Fusion in the Midlands for what seems to have been ages now, and to play a truly perfect condition DDR machine for once was quite something. It took some time getting used to the different timings and mechanics, but I was satisfied with getting to play a recent DDR mix at all.
As someone in a difficult position of being stuck between both London and Manchester, places with the two best arcades in the country which actually have recent music game releases running on alternative online servers, I take the crumbs where I can get them, and the fact that Golden Palm have actually tried to keep up to date with dance games is respectable.

The rest of the arcade is filled up by the omnipresent redemption and gambling machines, but for a location which is only really there to serve visitors to the holiday park, Golden Palm is exemplary. A clean space, decent roster of recent games which appeal to both casuals and others, this is what every location should aim for.

Unfortunately, many others don't, as we're about to see borne out!

Day 5

Ingoldmells, a place that strikes fear into the heart of many. Not least myself, as after once offering such rarities as Beatmania in the early 2000s, the arcades here have been on the decline for many years, giving even less of a reason to brave the crowds of tourists and relentless, permeating scents of sickly sweets and fattening fish 'n chips. Perhaps for the last time, I decided to give it a try.

Most of the arcades were simply the same story- neon entrance, secondary attractions such as bowling and cafes, lots of 2p penny pushers and gambling, the same Raw Thrills games over and over again. Notice a theme here? 
Diamonds in the rough could still be found. Joker Arcade offered glimpses of a more interesting past with worn yet mostly working F355 Challenge and Star Wars Trilogy machines, as well as a Killer Instinct cabinet switched off in the back corner. If it could somehow speak and articulate thought, it would likely be begging to be restored to its former glory. Other than that, nothing special.
A quick cross of the road finds you in Fantasy Island territory, easily identifiable from the roller coaster tracks above and outlandish theming. The arcade, Carousel Amusements, is attached to the park's centrepiece, a large indoor centre titled "The Pyramid". The indoor sections have been refurbished in recent years by new owners the Mellors Group, who rescued the park from administration.
The place does look a lot more presentable as a result, but more and more redemption has crept into the arcade, and a new bowling alley has been installed at the back, meaning some games have had to go - mainly deluxe Sega machines, like a couple of linked Sega Rally 2's, a Cycraft simulator running Club Kart, and the fairly uncommon Air Trix, among others. Some have been replaced by newer games (including a very nice cocktail style Pac-Man Battle Royale), but for the most part, slim pickings.
Yet, between the newer games and redemption, some true modern classics still remain. This great 4 player Daytona setup has been a staple of the arcade for very nearly 25 years now, and is still putting up a strong fight despite its age. The cameras and seat hydraulics no longer work, but the immense playability is still there.
This Dancing Stage Euromix machine was an odd one. It had DDR decals, meaning it was clearly converted from a Japanese mix, had a CRT with a fluctuating picture size, and they'd modded new lights into the speakers, which didn't look too great, and also messed with my camera resulting in this low quality photo. They have the money, so why not give Ace a try?
But the biggest surprise was, by a back exit of the arcade, a single Taito VS Viewlix machine, running King Of Fighters Maximum Impact Regulation A!
Yes, really. A UK seaside arcade with a genuine imported fighting game. I assumed the days of finding stuff like this was in the past, but this cab is the one exception. It was a genuine WTF find, one that really came out of nowhere. Just how had it ended up here? And why?
I'm not a massive fan of fighting games, but I had to have a few credits on this wildly out of place setup, as it really was an experience I couldn't get anywhere else in a proper UK arcade. Unfortunately, it even then is an outdated version, albeit new by our standards, and the main draw of fighting games, community competition, obviously can't be expected in a place like this, but still.

The games which slightly deviated from the norm at Fantasy Island somewhat made this visit worth making, but despite this, it was still a downer overall. They too had invested in a card payment system, which again, not bad to see arcades adapting, but had seemingly opted to use a different version to the industry standard Intercard. And it hadn't paid off, cause there would sometimes be 30 second waits for credits to register after scanning.
Image result for fantasy island arcade cards
This isn't really on when you consider some games only give 15 second time windows to enter another credit to continue playing. All it does is confuse casuals, and annoy those few who actually do come to play the couple of arcade oddities. Unless their network was facing brief difficulties that day, which as I understand it relies on an Internet connection, I would hope this fault is soon recognised and sorted out with.

Out of the remaining four arcades in the area, I only visited one, Planet Fun. A hugely disappointing venue in several ways- after hearing positive things about this place from others, I finally decided to give it a try, only to find their selection of games had slimmed down considerably, and the ones there were there were either old or in sub-par condition.
Even Mirage trumped it in machine maintenance and selection, and this is a fair comparison to make, as both are aiming for the FEC experience. Mismatched DDR cabinets from the early 2000s, switched off games like After Burner Climax, blatantly rushed plasma screen replacements on machines like OutRun 2 SP SDX. Terrible stuff.
The one small highlight to speak of was two good condition 3 screen F355 Challenge machines, with all features, screens, and controls working. Why these two cabs have remained in good condition despite all the other games is anyone's guess.
I couldn't quite muster the enthusiasm to bother checking out the remaining places, so I left. From what I gather, I didn't miss much. Besides those precious few unusual games, the arcades here were in a pretty bad way, with no good releases from recent years, and generally badly kept machines from the past 20 years. Things didn't bode well for Skegness.

Day 6

With the holiday now nearing its end, it was time to tackle Skeg Vegas. Thanks to a tip-off by @ItsMuchMore (who also kindly supplied a photo of Killer Instinct after my photo came out bad), I'd learned there was an arcade in the town centre, Flamingo Amusements, with some nice Sega racing games. I'd never been in the arcades in this part of the town, so whatever else there was there would be a surprise to me.
Sadly, both of the games I would promised would be there in working condition were turned off. Sega Rally 2 and Daytona USA 2 are becoming increasingly harder to come by, and this is why- total lack of maintenance, and dwindling parts supplies.
It also didn't help that their DDR machine was the usual dreaded Euromix, converted to LCD to boot. Most of the DDRs in Skegness are actually dedicated Euromix 2 cabs, as you can tell from the marquee and grey wood, but all of them have been downgraded to its predecessor, one of the simplest mixes released here. It's things like this that set us back from having even the slightest regeneration of a community.
Moving to the seafront, there was the infamous Lucky Strike. Once thought of as one of the biggest and best arcades in Skegness, it unfortunately burnt to the ground on suspicious circumstances in 2007. Regardless, when it did re-open, that reputation was somewhat kept- they had a great amount of video games up on the 1st floor - but in recent years it has gone downhill quite a bit.
I immediately noticed that they really hadn't been getting many new games recently. The newest cabs in there were Walking Dead and MotoGP, everything else was from 2015 or earlier.
Another OutRun 2 being kept around is nice to see, but there were serious problems with this cab. One side wasn't working entirely, and on the other, the wheels wouldn't return to their centres, graphics frequently glitched, and worst of all, the arcade had rather naively used plasma TVs to replace the rear projectors.
It must've seemed like a good idea when they first got them, but these screens now have a ludicrous amount of burn-in on them. They'd done the same to the two Sega Rally 3 cabs on the 1st floor, also fraught with similar issues.
Lucky Strike's DDR machines weren't too great either. One had been converted to LCD and downgraded from Euromix 2 to 1, as usual, and the other was just a Euromix dedicab with terrible pads. 
I've honestly never quite got why they bought these old mixes when they reopened; Fusion or Supernova would've been so much better choices if they wanted cheap and playable DDR machines over the newer X2 cabs.
Mario Kart is good, and the cabs thankfully didn't have any problems, but the unlit marquee behind them is a reminder of better times- this setup once was home to Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3.
Other than that, there was little else of note in Lucky Strike. It's had a massive fall from grace recently, and that's not even considering what it was like before the original burnt down.
Next door was an arcade I'd had high hopes for, the newly opened Empire. I saw it being built last year, and hoped it would bring something different to the table- I was particularly interested about the rumours of a retro section, that I'd heard about on the now-closed Jamma+ forums, and the possibility of there being great new games like DDR Ace.
Unfortunately, what as there was very little. Bell Leisure, the owners of the arcade, have simply moved the games they had in their Plaza arcade, which is right next door. No new games at all. Everything else was redemption, not even a retro game area.
However, just a week later I learned that there were indeed some retro cabs there through a UKVAC thread- and they were situated on the second floor of the arcade, which had only just opened up! By this point it was the end of the summer, so I don't know why they didn't want to have this open earlier, surely it would be better to have it done for when tourists are visiting?

Having given other venues like Plaza and Pleasure Beach a look, I didn't reckon them much. The normal selection of a few games sprinkled in amongst the gambling and redemption. More notable however was the biggest arcade in the town, and one of the longest lasting- the pier.
While there has been a much better selection of games on the pier in years gone by, as is the same with virtually every arcade in the area, the overall amount of them is definitely the largest in the town - this is certainly not a Mablethorpe situation here.
I do wish they were still as good with getting recent releases as they had been in the past, but I enjoyed some credits on games like Time Crisis 4, Mario Kart, Sega Rally 3, and House Of The Dead 4, which were all priced pretty fairly at 50p a credit.
The back of the pier is essentially where they send older games to die, so the condition of some of them wasn't great, but I still played a few of the cabs there- some of which were pretty unusual, like Thrill Drive 2 by Konami, and Namco's Quick & Crash shooting game, an unusual oddity of a cab which uses real physical elements.
DDR is sadly one area where the pier has gone downhill with. They once had an amazing selection of rhythm games at their peak, with games like Ez2Dancer, Pump It Up, and Beatmania- those are of course gone now, but the pier at least has been devoted to maintaining their one Supernova machine over the past few years.
Things have changed for the worse. It's been moved to the back of the pier while they've kept a Euromix at the front, and also been subject to a dodgy LCD conversion. Worst part was, the game had appeared to have crashed, as while it was switched on, no video or sound was coming out of the cab.
I've no idea how the pads are now, but it wasn't good to see one of the last good rhythm games in the town like this. It doesn't look like they're going to be getting DDR Ace any time soon either.
Before going back to the caravan, I made a point to stop at one more arcade- Smith's in Winthorpe, just outside of the centre of Skegness. This arcade is a strange one, it spontaneously closed down a few years ago, but then reopened soon after with few changes made when a new restaurant opened up across the road.
The decor was outdated and aging, with garish neon strips and cigarette-stained carpets aplenty. The games inside were old and worn, with the newest one, Ghost Squad, from 2004. Ridge Racer, Time Crisis 2 and Suzuka 8 Hours 2 seemed like rotting relics from another time and place in this context.
Dodgy LCD conversions were prevalent, with one on Sega Rally so badly done that it was looking more like an out of order sign:
The DDR machines retained their original CRT screens for once, but had pads that clearly hadn't been maintained in years, and bar cushions falling apart from wear and tear.
But for once, a music game other than the quality but all too familiar DDR. Wedged between Euromix 2 and Ghost Squad was the remains of an Ez2Dancer machine, a game I've always desired to play, but probably never will. Its manufacturers, Amuseworld, discontinued it long ago, and parts have been in short supply ever since. Not one working machine is currently known to exist in the UK, so it's a shame to see this simply left to rot.
In all honesty, I can't quite accurately describe how strange it was to be in Smiths- it was like stepping into some strange time vortex or something. But at the same time, from what I've been told, this place in particular is a shadow of its former self, once being home to games like Spy Hunter and dozens of Jamma cabs in its glory days. They were all scrapped. I ended my crawl of the Skegness arcades on a weird, slightly melancholic note.

Day 7 + A conclusion
Before we left later that day, I made one last visit to Golden Palm. If it wasn't obvious enough already, it was easily the highlight of all the arcades in the Lincolnshire area.
While the rest were just doing what arcades do now, this place showed the shoots of recovery I'll always hope to see. New, quality games, mixed in with a few classics and the mandatory redemption. But are those in charge of the arcade even consciously setting out to improve things, simply snapping up whatever looks shiny and new? I kept asking myself that, among other things I wasn't satisfied with.

I was most disappointed in how only one arcade had the new DDR, obviously, but there'd been new releases like Sega's Transformers sequel and the four player Halo shooter, which aren't necessarily good games, but would've been nice to see arcades investing in anyway to keep things fresh.
Maintenance of the games was definitely more of an issue this year too. When I visited last year at the end of the summer, most of the games were perfect, and I assumed the ones that weren't good were down to arcades not bothering to fix them again after the start of the summer. Yet this time I was there earlier on, and there were even less games that were actually perfect.

It was also unfortunate to see some arcades trying to adapt to new arcade trends, like card payment systems, but not implementing them properly. If they want to keep with the times and make it more usual for tourists to use card payment in arcades, they should do it well and make an effort. 

This is all too similar to the mid 2000s, when venues had the option of fully embracing card save systems with new releases like Initial D 3 and Tekken 4, but didn't, over confusion, lack of effort, or a shared sense of defeat that consoles were now leading the way.

If there's anything I've learnt here, it's that I shouldn't assume arcades will always get new games and stay with the times, but even then it's still a disappointment. I honestly don't expect much from them to begin with, and seeing them not even provide that is pretty sobering. 

The reality is, the western amusement industry is full of people (old white men in suits, to be brutally honest) who believe that video games are no longer profitable, and will never make as much money as the latest ticket redemption machines capitalising on a trend. Fidget Spinner Frenzy, for example.
The only option now for current-gen arcade gamers is to support arcades ran by people who know what they're doing, like Arcade Club in Manchester and Las Vegas in London, although on a personal level it is not easy to get to these venues. Places like The National Videogame Arcade that are nearer to me show promise, but whether that promise will be realised depends on how they act on it of course.

An upside of the arcades declining though, is that I've appreciated the few good moments and games way more than I probably should - Golden Palm is a rare example of a modern seaside arcade done well, and I have enjoyed playing the few good machines on offer, even with their numbers dwindling further still.

And looking at the bigger picture, Skegness and its surrounding towns do actually have a lot more video games in their arcades than other seaside resorts like Blackpool. Besides Southend-on-Sea, I can't think of another seaside resort with a bigger selection of games. Maybe that counts for something. I guess.
Anyway, that's it for now. My main take away from this? Support the up and coming venues like Arcade Club who know what they're doing. There's no future in the traditional seaside arcade for actual gamers, unless something drastic is done, and if you want to experience that unique thrill of finding something genuinely odd, do it before those machines are gone for good. Peace.

Ted