Sunday, 23 September 2018

Arcades on the Lincolnshire coast

Midway through the summer of 2018, I was on holiday in Skegness, UK...
I've been going to this place for the past 10+ years, thanks to it being the nearest seaside resort. As a result I'm very familiar with the arcades here, of which there are almost 30 between Skeggy and it's surrounding towns!

I hadn't done a proper report on all of the arcades in the years before, so this time I set out to visit as many as possible, and see what had changed since the last time I was here over the course of 7 days.

Day 1

Soon after arriving in our caravan, I went to visit one of the standouts from the previous few years, The Mirage in Mablethorpe.
Back in 2014 this was just your average size seaside arcade- however after this they would begin a massive expansion.

Thanks to buying the arcade next door, raising the roof, and creating an extention behind the buildings where a car park was situated dramatically increased The Mirage's size- and number of arcade machines!
It's now very much an FEC (Family Entertainment Centre) of a similar style to the American Dave & Busters arcades, with a restaurant, bowling, kids play area, and huge prize shop. It's not the biggest arcade I've ever been to, but it's definitely up there.

And- what about the games? In my opinion, a big arcade needs big cabinets, and The Mirage certainly doesn't disappoint with the giant 4 player OutRun 2 SP SDX!
This machine is just amazing, with 4 hydraulic plastic replicas of Ferrari's, 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 pretty much perfect condition. Sadly the same can't be said for other SDX installations I have seen- some of which also in Skegness.
There were a few other racing games in the arcade, all of which were setup for 3 or 4 player races- including Storm Rider, Mario Kart GP DX, and the rare Battle Gear 4 (Great game, but the cabs were sadly starting to show their age, with two being switched off and the other couple looking more than a little worn).
But also, between the aforementioned Storm Rider and Mario Kart, was an older racer, Sega Touring Car Championship. Bizarrely this cab appeared out of nowhere last year, and I never remember it being in The Mirage beforehand.
Touring Car was generally in pretty good condition, but another older racing game at the back, less so- this 3 screen F355 Challenge has been at this place for as long as I can remember, and has been looking pretty old and worn for quite a while too.
One of the 3 CRT's 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 re-imagined- World's Largest Pac-Man and Space Invaders Frenzy machines, both right next to each other! Both looked pretty impressive with their massive screens.

I did leave after this as it was getting late, but I planned to return the next day to see the other games- and also check out the other arcades 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, I was surprised by what I saw...
The shutters were all closed up on the arcade, but one appeared to be open. Even just from the small glimpse I got of the building, I could easily see 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 who knows what else is in there. Someone really should make an offer for it!

Speaking of DDR, I went over to The Mirage to see if their cabs were still there- they were the only ones I saw in the Mablethorpe arcades last year, and both of them (Euromix 2 and X2) were actually in pretty decent condition.
I tried X2 first. There had been an update on the Zenius-i-Vanisher listing of it a few months ago, and the pads had supposedly gotten pretty bad, but I was hoping it had been fixed since then.

Sadly, they hadn't. All the pads on both sides constantly stuck down and often misfired, which just isn't playable condition at all.  A real shame, as they were good with maintaining this X2 for a while, something that a lot of arcades never have done.
Despite it being a much older mix, EM2 made up for X2. It's been a fixture in the arcade for years now, with the sound turned up super loud and pads usually always working fine. It was even 2 credits for £1 now. Needless to say, I played it quite a bit!

This time, I also gave The Mirage's shooters a proper look. There's always been a pretty high turn-over rate of these in particular, games like Time Crisis 4, Luigi's Mansion Arcade, and Sega's uncommon 2 player shooter 2Spicy being just a few games that have come and gone in the space of just a few years.
Currently The Mirage has the usual Walking Dead and Jurassic Park lightgun games- I'm not massive fans of these two titles, but they have proven to be very popular with casuals.
Besides those, there was also Rambo and Shhh... Welcome To Frightfearland, or to put it more simply, Panic Museum 2, the haunted theme park themed sequel to Taito's 2010 shooter. Both are decent enough, but weren't in the best condition (Rambo having been converted to a smaller LCD 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, though it isn't for everyone. Thankfully this was in good condition overall, though the screen was starting to get a little washed out.
And then also a broken old Big Buck Hunter, which no-one seemed to care about fixing during the entire time I was there. Not that I'm complaining, but it is a bit of a waste of space while it's like this.

That was it for The Mirage's shooter lineup this year, which I was hoping would've changed since last year considering their good past with getting the latest releases, but that doesn't seem to be the case this time. 

Hopefully next year they will have gotten newer releases like the Transformers shooter sequel, and the Halo arcade game, which again despite not having stellar gameplay, will surely impress casuals, and keep things fresh at least. Maybe even finally Time Crisis 5, though it's been a fair few years since that was released now.

One more thing- you may have noticed on a few of the machines there being a card reader. These of course were for the card payment system the arcade has integrated this year, being the standard "Intercard" network setup.
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I'm all for arcades adapting to this, even if they still offer cash payment, but there was a massive flaw in The Mirage's card system- you could only get a card from the prize shop!

Every other arcade I've been in with this system has always had easy to find card stations, where you could easily purchase a new card and top up your current one with more credits. The Mirage didn't have any of these, which meant you had to go up to the prize desk, 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 (and continue to as well), arcades must promote it visibly to people, and make it clear and easy where to get your cards from- as seaside arcades generally haven't added card payment yet. 

The Mirage have pretty much just wasted money on a pointless card system that almost no-one will take advantage of, money that they could've used on buying new machines. I couldn't be bothered with getting a card from the prize desk, and I'm sure others will if I'm not.

Last year, The Mirage definitely seemed like the best arcade in the area for me, with all it's machines being maintained well, and new ones being bought regularly- but it has unfortunately dropped the ball a bit this year. I'm hoping things will be better next time I'm here, but I'm not sure.

Onto Mablethorpe's other arcades then. Except for the fact that between these three arcades on the same street, there was only one game between them!
Jacksons Amusements here once used to have a really good lineup of racing games, including classic Manx TT, Sega Rally 2, and Daytona USA 2 cabs, and even a F-Zero AX deluxe machine. Yet all of their games have disappeared in the past couple years, leaving only redemption and gambling machines.
I can't even recall when Family Amusements last had any video games, and City Of Gold serves as the only arcade out of all of these with a game, a standard 2 player Mario Kart.
I didn't even bother looking in Empire Amusements, which was further down the road- last time I heard they had a broken Time Crisis 3 and nothing else for games. The Mirage's selection of games does make up for this poor rate of cabs over on the other side of the street, but even then this is pretty bad. 

I would've highly recommended visiting Mablethorpe a few years ago, for it's few decent older cabs in Jackson's and the usual newer games in The Mirage, but now all it really has going for it is OutRun 2 SP SDX and one of the only good condition DDR cabs in the area.

Day 3

We'd rented out a beach hut at Chapel Point to use for the week, and by the third day we were allowed in. This of course gave me an excuse to visit the arcades down the road in Chapel St Leonards. I didn't give them a proper look last year outside of a few minutes in one of them, so I was hopeful for some surprises that I hadn't seen yet. 
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, respectively. 
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 a Razing Storm (which appeared to have a pretty screwed screen on one side, looked terrible).
Across the road was Greens Amusements, which didn't look like it had been updated in over 20 years- indeed, inside was some outdated decor, a out of order Bowlingo alley, and a tiny prize shop to accommodate the few redemption machines they had.
The only video game they had was an unsurprisingly old one- the original 1995 Sega Rally! 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.
If you took one look at this cab, you could tell it was pretty old and worn, with the left side's discoloured CRT and torn steering wheel, and the beat up seat decals, and the rusted speakers, and the broken gear boxes. But how could I say no to this game at 50p a play?
The right side was the least bad overall, and I did actually manage to complete all three courses a couple times when playing it. Didn't reach the extra Lakeside track and get on the leaderboard, mind.

A little further out of town resided a few other arcades, including Fun Spot, Cashcade, and Carnivale, but none of these had any noteworthy games. Carnivale 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 of said to come there unless you wanted to play some classic Sega Rally. But no, the real highlight of Chapel St Leonards (and arguably overall) was yet to come- I would be visiting that tomorrow...

Day 4

Instead of giving the arcades in the town centre another visit, I focused on spending my free time entirely in the on-site arcade at the Golden Palm holiday park a few minutes out of town.
The place had several quality games in the right hand corner, including newer Namco releases like Time Crisis 5 and the standard version of Star Wars Battle Pod, as well as a few older Sega titles, the almighty OutRun 2 and After Burner Climax. All the games were in very good condition and clearly maintained well, really 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 just incredible- we may not have the e-Amusement online service (and probably never will by the looks of things!), but the last time we got a DDR machine with both quality parts and a decent songlist was Supernova, which was a damn long time ago now.
I've been stuck with older mixes like Euromix 2 and Fusion in the Midlands for ages now, and to play a truly perfect condition DDR machine for once was simply amazing. It took some time getting used to the different timings, but I was just happy I was getting to play a recent DDR mix overall.
If you follow my Twitter, you may know I'm pretty vocal about how Ace's release has been handled here- besides this cab in Skegness (and another up north in the Namco arcade at Gateshead), pretty much all of the DDR A machines have turned up in the south, meaning I had to enjoy playing this cab while I could.

Because of this, I definitely needed to visit Golden Palm again before the holiday was over, as DDR Ace was just too good!

Day 5

Today, it was time to brave the crowds of Ingoldmells and see what arcade treasures this place had left. Similar to Chapel, my visit here wasn't very long last year, meaning I only got a quick look at what the arcades had to offer. I didn't remember much besides a few games at the Fantasy Island park's arcade, which had a few pretty notable games.
I started at the end of the strip at the BJ's Leisure arcade. I've never actually properly visited this place before, so I can't comment on what I know it once had- but going off some old Ziv listings, it once had several Dancing Stage Euromix cabs and even Beatmania at the height of the rhythm gaming craze.
As for it's rhythm games now... the only one that could be found was a Euromix 2 dedicab running EM1 (an unfortunately common thing here), shoved to the back of the arcade, while new shiny racing and shooting games took centre stage.
Injustice Arcade, a fairly new release. It's technically a fighting game, and even uses cards, but what's the point when you can't even move in-game with there being no joysticks?
The next arcade along was Joker Arcade, which looked like it hadn't been updated in years (and also appeared to be associated with the couple arcades next door, considering they all had the same decor).
The ageing selection of games confirmed my suspicions, with old and battered F355 Challenge and Star Wars Trilogy machines being a couple of the few cabs they had.
There was also this weird little shooter, P's Attack. It appeared to be some kind of rip off of Point Black, parodying films or TV shows like The X Files for it's levels. Bizarre little game that I'd never heard of before, but actually little else notable about it.

The two neighbouring arcades didn't seem to have any games when I looked around them, so I made a swift exit.
...but the eagle-eyed ItsMuchMore, who were there a week after me, spotted this switched off Killer Instinct 2 tucked away in the back corner! Such a shame seeing it in that state, someone really should make an offer for it...

A quick cross of the road and I was now in Fantasy Island territory, easily identifiable from the rollercoaster tracks above you. The arcade, Carousel Amusements, is attached to the park's centrepiece, an big indoor fun centre named "The Pyramid". The indoor sections have been refurbished in recent years by new owners the Mellors Group, who saved the park from administration.
The place does look a lot nicer as a result, but more and more redemption has crept into the arcade, and a big new bowling alley has been installed at the back of the arcade, 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 it just isn't the same.
But, between the newer games and redemption, some 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 it's age. The cameras and seat hydraulics may no longer be working, but the game remains as playable as ever.
This Dancing Stage Euromix machine was an odd beast. It had DDR decals, meaning it was converted from a Japanese mix, had a CRT that kept screwing with the picture size, and they'd modded new lights into the speakers- which were messing with my camera and led to this crap photo I got of it.
 Pads weren't too good either, and I regretted playing it in the end. I could've sworn they had Euromix 2 last year too, but that now seems to have vanished...

But the biggest surprise was, by a back exit of the arcade, a solitary Taito VS Viewlix machine, running King Of Fighters Maximum Impact Regulation A!
Yes, really. I'm not taking the piss here. A UK seaside arcade with a genuine imported fighting game. I thought the days of finding stuff like this was in the past, but this cab is the one exception. It was a true 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 obviously had to have a few credits on this bizarre setup, as it really was an experience I couldn't get anywhere else in a proper UK arcade!

Seeing some more unusual games at Fantasy Island was great, but I wasn't happy with how they'd implemented a card system, just like The Mirage. Here, you could clearly get the cards from dispensers and information desks, but the games were using a different system to the standard Intercard- and for some reason, it was taking absolutely ages to register a credit on the machines.
Image result for fantasy island arcade cards
This can't go on if an arcade wants to keep using a card payment system. Not only will casuals be disappointed, actual arcade gamers will be too- sometimes the wait would be up to 30 seconds, which could cause them to lose their game if they were paying to continue. This was a massive shame to see considering the arcade's selection of games.
Down the street was Planet Fun, an arcade that could even match The Mirage in terms of sheer size. 2 big floors, filled to the brim with arcade games and machines, definitely impressive by the UK's standards.
I'd had a quick look in this place last year and I was impressed by what I'd seen- two DDR machines up on a stage, a dedicated section to an extensive selection of deluxe Sega and Namco cabs. Unfortunately, things seemed to have changed a fair bit.
The DDR's have been moved away from each other tdifferent points in the arcade, their old space now being occupied by the massive Tomb Raider arcade. The condition of both wasn't too great either, somehow Euromix 1 & 2's boards have ended up in the wrong cabs.
The other games on offer were okay, but it looked like some had vanished (I couldn't find Battle Gear 4) and the ones left weren't in good condition.
Another OutRun 2 SP SDX was impressive to see, but every car had received a botched LCD conversion- resulting in different points of the screen being cut off on each. 
After Burner Climax SDX was switched off, presumably not working, and other machines like House Of The Dead 3 and Time Crisis 4 wouldn't accept my money. 18 Wheeler had a really bad plasma screen conversion, and Operation Ghost's gun calibration wasn't working well. Just terrible.
The one highlight was two very 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, but I'm not complaining.
Maybe things will have changed in a few weeks time, but Planet Fun just wasn't worth it when I visited. It's pretty bad when 90% of an arcades games are in no playable condition whatsoever...
A little further down the street was Sun City, the last arcade of note in Ingoldmells. Alongside the usual Raw Thrills "Fast & Furious" business, there were some older racers and shooters, including Manx TT and Sega Touring Car.
The definite highlight was a perfect condition deluxe Sega Rally 2- the hydraulics and force feedback were both fully working, and the replacement screen looked great.
Another arcade, another Euromix masquerading as it's sequel :( what's worse is that this one was LCD converted, and had some horrendous fake bezel to boot.
There was a decent Dancing Stage Fusion too though- also converted to LCD, but the pads were still good and timings weren't too off. 3 plays for £1 too!
Sun City's selection of games has been dwindling down (Ridge Racer, Daytona, and Time Crisis 2 have all disappeared in recent years), but I would still give it a visit for a few good quality games that are still in good condition.

There were a couple other arcades in Ingoldmells- but I'm not going to cover them here, as they didn't have many games to speak of to be honest. Thanks to @ItsMuchMore on Twitter for providing photos of Sun City which I didn't have, by the time I was there my phone's battery had ran out from snapping away at all the other arcades!

Day 6

My holiday was now nearing it's end, so just as I did with Ingoldmells, I spent some of the day in Skegness, checking out all of the arcades.
Thanks to a tip-off by the aforementioned ItsMuchMore, I'd learned there was an arcade in the town centre 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, there wasn't much at all. Most of the arcades in the centre were gambling only, with a few coin pushers and claw machines added in for kids. The one arcade with the racing games I'd been told of, Flamingo, was a massive disappointment too...
For when I found the cabs, they were both switched off. Asked an employee and apparently they weren't working altogether. A massive shame, as Daytona 2 and Sega Rally 2 are some of the best arcade racing games around, and I wouldn't see either of them again in Skegness.
It also didn't help that their DDR machine was the usual dreaded Euromix 1, converted to LCD. Most of the DDR's in Skegness are actually Euromix 2 dedicabs, as you can tell from the marquee and grey wood, but all of them have been downgraded to it's predecessor, one of the simplest mixes released here- again, a big disappointment.
Next was Tower Arcade. This place always looked massive on the outside, but that's of course mainly due to the cinema they have upstairs. In comparison to the other arcades in Skegness, their amusements area is actually pretty small.
As for their video games, all of them were in great condition and clearly well maintained, always great to see. However the selection was a little lacking compared to other arcades nearby, I would only say that Mario Kart and the retro revival cabs of Pac-Man and Space Invaders are worth playing.

A little further down the street then was the infamous Lucky Strike. Often regarded as one of the biggest and best arcades in Skegness, it sadly burnt down in 2008. When it did re-open, that reputation was kept- they had a great amount of video games up on the 1st floor- but in recent years Lucky Strike has gone downhill 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 in there was from 2015 and earlier.
Another OutRun 2 DX 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 centre, the graphics were glitching, and worst of all, the arcade had stupidly used plasma screens to replace the rear projectors. 

It must've seemed like a good idea when they first got it, but these screens now have a ridiculous 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 many other 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 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 great, and the cabs thankfully didn't have any problems, but it's a little sad to know that they replaced a four player Maximum Tune 3 setup :(
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 was interested in the prospect of a new arcade- I was particularly excited 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, I would be in for a massive disappointment. 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?
Anyway, I had a quick look in Plaza to see if there was anything at all left. There was just one game, and it was one of the worst DDR machines I've ever seen. An In The Groove dedicab, with a Euromix 2 marquee and running Euromix 1!
I didn't even bother playing, as the pads were very likely playable too. As a result I wouldn't give Plaza a visit now, there's genuinely no point.
Crossing the road to the Pleasure Beach fairground (not associated with the Blackpool location!), I hoped for some better cabs in the couple arcades they had onsite there. With it not predominantly being an arcade, they had some older games including OutRun 2, Time Crisis 3, After Burner Climax, and Manx TT.
There was also probably the only decent DDR machine in the whole of Skegness here, a Fusion dedicab. Pads were all fine, and 50p to boot!
The older cabs didn't mean there were no newer games to speak of. The arcade at the entrance had a Star Wars Battle Pod, the only one I saw the whole time I was on holiday. I'm disappointed that more arcades haven't got this, as not only is it a great game, the projection screen technology is fantastic too.
But I didn't stick around in the Pleasure Beach for too long, as right across the road was the biggest arcade in the town- the pier.
While there has been a much better selection of games on the pier in years gone by, the overall amount of them is definitely the largest in the town.
I do wish they were as good with getting recent releases as they were 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 pretty much 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 and Namco's Quick & Crash shooting game.
DDR is sadly one area where the pier has gone downhill with. They actually used to have 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 has been pretty devoted to maintaining their Supernova machine over the past few years.
Sadly things have changed. 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 was so sad 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.
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 just plain odd- it closed down a few years ago out of nowhere, but then re-opened with few changes made when a new restaurant opened up across the road.
The decor was outdated and ageing, it didn't look like the place had been updated in almost 30 years. The games inside are old and worn, with the newest one being from 2005. Ridge Racer, Time Crisis and Suzuka 8 Hours 2 were like lost relics when I saw them, even with not even being that old in terms of arcade history.
Dodgy LCD conversions were prevalent on a few machines, with one on Sega Rally even being mistaken for a out of order sign. The games that didn't have them had terrible monitors though, clearly on their last legs.
The DDR machines had their original CRT's for once, but the pads on them weren't too good. They probably haven't been maintained in years...
Speaking of old dance games, wedged between Euromix 2 and Ghost Squad was the remains of an Ez2Dancer machine, a game I've always wanted to play but probably never will now with there being no working machines left in UK arcades.
I honestly can't stress how strange it was to be in this arcade- it just looked so run-down, and I was even half expecting to see some old Jamma cabs somewhere, but it was not to be. I ended my crawl of the Skegness arcades on a weird one for sure.

Day 8
Before we left later that day, I made one last visit to Golden Palm- easily the highlight of all the arcades in the area.
I played my current favourite arcade game, DDR Ace, and thought about all the arcades I'd visited over the course of that week- sadly I realised that besides a select few, all of them had gone downhill in comparison to last year. More and more games were going away, and none of the arcades had bought any new ones this year (which they actually had in 2017).

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.
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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. Well this time I was there earlier on, and there were even less games that were actually perfect.

It was also sad 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.

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 a massive disappointment. I honestly don't expect much from them to begin with, and seeing them not even provide that is pretty sad. 

The reality is, the western arcade business is full of people who simply believe that video games are a thing of the past, 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 for arcades run by people who know what they're doing, like Arcade Club in Manchester and Las Vegas in London, but since I don't live anywhere near both I don't get to go to them often. Places like The National Videogame Arcade that are nearer to me show promise, but it will be slow for them getting arcade games since they are a more museum type venue.

An upside of the arcades declining though, is that I've appreciated the few good ones way more than I would- Golden Palm is a rare example of a modern seaside arcade done well, and I have enjoyed playing the good games still on offer.

And looking at the bigger picture, Skegness and it's 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. At least there's that.
Anyway, that's it for now. I have another arcade report coming up soon on Whitby, Bridlington and Scarborough's arcades, which should be done in a few weeks. I hope you enjoyed this write-up on the Lincolnshire coast's arcades, and thanks for reading. 

Ted