September 24th, 2011
by Adam Bambury
Photo by Jen Dale
If you’ve ever longed to return to the video gaming simplicity of previous years, or just yearn to beat someone to a pulp on Street Fighter 2 like you used to do to your brother after school, then start practising your special moves – the Handbaked Arcade is coming to Brighton.
Based in London but purveyors of fine temporary retro game installations to clubs, art galleries and festivals around the UK, the Arcade are now setting up shop in Blind Tiger, the rebranded Hector’s House.
They’ll be bringing with them a comprehensive selection of games consoles (everything from the SNES to the Sega Saturn), flight-cases of games, TVs, projectors, and plenty of gamepads, all for your slightly-tipsy retro gaming enjoyment.
And, unlike a regular arcade where that enjoyment is limited to the amount of pound coins in your pocket, once you’ve paid the £4 entry fee everything is free to play.
The event will run from 4-11pm on every second Sunday of the month, beginning October 9, with a soundtrack of appropriately skewed chip-tunes to be supplied by Hand Baked DJs.
In a city with a large population of ‘digital creatives’, not to mention nostalgic students, we imagine it’s going to go down pretty well.
We were so excited by the prospect of competing in ten-player Bomberman while swigging a pint of Harveys that we got in touch with Hand Baked Arcade main-man Tom Humphrey to find out more.
How did you come up with the idea for the Arcade?
I was always known for having a Sega Megadrive and taking it to house parties along with a projector. I then came up with the idea to install it at a club night I was organising, the idea was a blinding success and from there it grew. The first event was called the Megadrive Mashup and featured lots of electronic music acts, this was around 6 years ago…
How do you choose which games and consoles to put out?
The consoles are chosen depending on the size of the installation. If it’s only small then the most popular are most likely to be the ones on show. As for the games, I select the initial games/cartridges in play but encourage people to flick through flight cases full of games to find one that makes that individual overwhelmed with nostalgia.
Which are the most popular games?
Street Fighter 2, Super Mario Kart, Sonic, Pacman, Space Invaders and Bomberman.
Why do you think people are still into retro gaming in the age of the Xbox 360?
The current generation of consoles are very good in terms of graphics and capabilities but the ‘pick up and play’ aspect is often lost on all but the hardcore gamers. The majority of new games require you to know how to play in advance as well as being prepared to dedicate serious time to getting any good at them.
Retro games can be played by anyone due to often only having a very limited number of buttons or functions. On top of this you have nostalgia playing a large part as well as the games being far more sociable than the likes of the latest First-Person-Shooter.
Which is your personal favourite game that will be there on the day?
I have many favourites but one that is certain to go down well is 10 player Mega Bomberman running through a projector.
Aren’t you worried about over-excited gamers spilling beer on your painfully restored equipment?
Of course! and this is exactly why each console is presented gorgeously in a hand crafted case. This consists of an aluminium case with large back-lit window in the top so the original machine can be seen but not touched (or beer spilt on to it!).