First of all, I should warn readers that this post pretty is pretty much of no interest for anyone outside the UK and those outside London may find it a bit of a stretch, but it’s still worth noting!
Lets face it, the arcade scene is either dying or dead. There are a few places still holding out in the far east but as far as Europe and the US are concerned, it’s pretty much dead. In Central London, we have long lost the multi-floored funland in trocadero and one of the oldest places, Casino on Goodge Street, closed its doors a few months ago. And with that, there was no place for arcade players to congregate. Admittedly, this was mostly the fighting game community since the DDR lot just disappeared.
But last weekend was the opening of possibly now, the only place to cater for the hardcore gamers (mostly the FGC). And the place is called the Heart Of Gaming!
It’s a pretty adventurous venture. A converted building housing some classic arcade games and a dedicated area for console game setups! With all the usual locations now closed up, the HoG is well positioned to become the go-to place for various meetups and tournaments. In fact, one of the major London tournaments has already booked the place for the next event!
When you first enter, you’re met with a row of fighting game arcades. Currently, the setup consists of 2 SFIII 3rd Strike machines, KoF98, SSFII Turbo and SF Alpha. There are also some arcade shmups as well, with an arcade Ikaruga! It was the first time I’ve seen one. I’ve only seen home console versions running before!
There was also a surprise in the shape of gauntlet legends! Personally, I’d rather see a simpsons arcade or TMNT arcade running the same setup, but still…
Not all the machines were in use either, though it’s unknown whether or not these ones will be functional again anytime soon. But most of the action was held in the next room!
The second room in the HoG housed around 7 PS3s and 10 Xbox 360s for players to get on with whatever their poison was but since the opening night was filled with FGC members, you can guess what kind of games were being played. The XBox setups were filled with SSFIV and UMvC3 setups, though there were a couple of KoFXIII games going as well. The PS3s had a more interesting mix with skullgirls, Arcana Heart 3, Blazblue SC2E and Persona 4 Arena (which is STILL waiting for an official release in the UK!) games going. Of course, you’re free to bring whatever games you may wish to play. Just get a free system and away you go!
The organisers have recently put up pricings for the venue and there’s even an option for overnight gaming sessions, if numbers allow! you can check it out on their facebook page! A full website should be incoming!
All in all, it’s pretty interesting. The place, although officially open, is clearly not 100% finished as some areas need a little more work and a lick of paint here and there but it’s all functional! The only caveat is that it’s based in west london and, while transport is fairly decent, it’s not the most central or easiest place to get to. Still, I only hope for the best for the venue and its owners. Should be great to have a single place to meet up for large gaming sessions