Vintage arcade games, pinball machines, modern consoles – Arcade Club is your one-stop shop for retro gaming.
Arcade Club is one of the most hotly anticipated arrivals in Leeds. And now it’s open, you can play old school arcade games, pinball machines and modern consoles to your heart’s content. It’s taken over a unit at the Abbey Retail Park in Kirkstall to open the largest arcade of its kind anywhere in Yorkshire, which you can visit from Thursday to Sunday every week.
Arcade Club is the brainchild of Andy Palmer and his partner Gaynor. When Andy started collecting old arcade machines, most operators were trying to get rid of them for cheap – he built up quite a collection, so he decided to start a weekly night called Arcade Club. It snowballed from there and they eventually opened a two-floor venue in their hometown of Bury. Now, two years later, they’ve brought Arcade Club to Leeds.
“Leeds is quite simply a great city, with a fantastic hub of people driving it,” Andy told us. “The venue was perfect for what we wanted. It’s a real Tardis, you wouldn’t think it’s as big as it is from the outside, that being said, we filled it much more quickly than we were expecting! If you fill any venue with enough arcade cabinets, it will look and sound amazing. Add a liberal helping of LEDs and strip lighting and you take it to the next level. We want every venue to have its own feel, while still feeling like a proper arcade.”
Arcade Club has a unique entry model. Unlike other places where you pay by the hour or by the game, they’ve popularised Free Play, which means you pay a fixed amount – £16 for adults and £8 for children – to play on any game you like, for as long as you like. The result? Your trip to Arcade Club is likely to become a fully-fledged day out.
This is a time machine of video game history spread across three floors and they lay claim to have the biggest collection of old arcade games in Europe. There are over 250 machines you can play on, one of which dates all the way back to 1972, an original Pong game. If you want to go really old-school, you can hunt out all the big name classics in their original forms – we’re talking Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, as well as an original Star Wars cabinet released at the same time as the 1977 film.
But with so much to choose from, where the hell should you start? Andy’s got some top tips for you, “After Burner Deluxe is a fantastic game – the deluxe cabinet moves and plays like a dream, and it’s just a really fantastic experience. Quick and Crash is the most popular game that no one’s heard of! We picked this shooting game up a few years back for our Bury venue and it was insanely popular right from the get-go. Everyone that plays it loves it. It’s basically a shooting game where the player has to shoot a series of targets as fast as they can. And R-Type, because it’s quite simply one of my favourite games of all time. One of the greatest shoot ‘em ups ever made.”
Stepping inside Arcade Club is a bit like stepping back in time, especially when you see their massive collection of vintage pinball machines, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find anything from the 21st century here. Head up to the second and third floors where they keep their collection of modern Japanese imports. You won’t find these bad boys anywhere else, and they have everything from dance machines to Table Flip. They even have full Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC gaming set-ups, complete with a vast collection of the latest games.
There’s so much going on, you could easily lose a day in here – but don’t fret, they have a tasty menu of food to keep you going. You can tuck into hand-stretched pizzas, loaded nacho bowls, classic burgers and hot dogs, none of which cost more than a fiver. There’s a full bar too, where you can sup lagers like Budweiser and Corona, as well an ever-changing line-up of real ale, craft beer and cider. Again, the emphasis is on value for money, so none of the beers cost more than £3.
Whether you’re an avid gamer or just want to relive the good ol’ days of your youth on vintage arcade machines, Arcade Club could well become your new favourite venue in Leeds.
Arcade Club, Unit 3, Abbey Retail Park, Savins Mill Way, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3RP. It’s open 6pm to 11pm on Thursdays, 6pm to 12am on Fridays, 11am to 11pm on Saturdays and 11am to 8pm. Thursdays and Fridays are 16+ only, kids welcome on Saturdays and Sundays.