It’s fair to say that The Galleries is not what it once was. 30 years ago, it was the beating heart of Bristol’s shopping district. These days, we usually just use it as a shortcut through town. But there might be life in the old dog yet, as a new freeplay arcade has just opened in the shopping centre.
Playback Arcade is bringing some fun back to The Galleries. Run by enthusiastic two long-term gamers and friends, Mark and Nick, you’ll find retro games galore here for just a one-off admission fee. Play everything from arcade cabinets to pinball machines, old consoles and Japanese rhythm and party games. There’s even a host of board games for you tabletop enthusiasts.
Forget the laidback cafe style of Chance & Counters or NQ64’s neon-party vibes, Playback Arcade is the back-to-basics arcade we’ve searching for. Based on the bottom floor of The Galleries, Mark and Nick bring their knowledge of and enthusiasm for gaming. The aim is more about preserving creative retro games for generations to come than it is about getting a nostalgia hit (although there’s plenty of that too).
Expect plenty of bizarre, fun and bold games to play. Just some of the games you can expect include Dedicated cabs like Time Crisis 3, House of the Dead, Beatmania, and Tekken 7; Console games like Mario Kart: Double Dash, Golden Eye, Simpsons: Hit and Run, and Halo 2; and pinball machines (“the most volatile things we have”) like Mario, Fish Tales, AC-DC, and Flintstones. You can check out a more detailed list on their website here.
One of the main aims of Playback Arcade is to build a sense of community in The Galleries. Not only through encouraging in-person multiplayer gaming sessions (party games are a big thing here) and a sense of inclusivity that ensures everyone feels welcome. But, in the long term, Playback Arcade aims to start hosting free talks on the history of gaming and demonstrations of repair work on original arcade hardware, consoles and CRTs.