Walking up a flight of stairs, hidden within an Industrial building in Bury, you don’t know what to expect. Everything sounds quiet, and you wonder where you’re supposed to go. Then, when you walk through the doors to the first floor of the Arcade Club, everything hits you all at once.
From people playing on VR, to Mario Kart on large projectors, classic arcade machines, to unique Japanese arcade products, Bury Arcade Club is truly a place that has everything you could think of — as a gamer, you feel lost in this wonderland.
This is Andy Palmer’s Arcade Club — which opened in October 2015 — with its 250+ collection that started more than twenty years ago in Haslingden. It is Europe’s largest freeplay video & pinball arcade, and a place that every gamer should know about.
“The best thing about Arcade Club is the fact that we’re doing something everyone said that we couldn’t do,” said Andy, sitting down with us to chat about the club, “We get everyone coming in, from very young to very old, all the way up to 80 and 90”.
For a day’s pass, adults pay £15 to enter the club and have access to its two floors: classical gaming and modern gaming. Starting from the top, that’s what you expect to see. Classic arcade machines aligned next to one another, from Star Wars and Pac Man to Joust and Gauntlet, as people of all ages crowd along the rows playing on the machines, captivated by these games, and because it’s a free-play arcade, your choices are unlimited.
You can play whatever game you want. Browsing through the collection, I became more interested in how Andy’s collection started, and what was his first game, which was met with laughter:
“Everyone asks me that! [Our first game] was a Star Wars vector game, and an original Taito Space Invaders, which is a Japanese machine. We started in one of our computer shops with around 30 machines, and from there it just took off.”
What did surprise me, however, was the first floor full of modern games which opened in March 2017. The owner has definitely thought about catering to every gamer’s needs with this floor’s features. With PC setups and VR experience, large-scale projectors and eSports live stream setups, this floor gives gamers the chance to use consoles they may not have had the chance to before.
Whilst the classical gaming floor is the more photogenic of the two and what first-time visitors come for, the first floor makes sure your experience at the Arcade Club is truly spectacular. Even though Andy has included under ten VRs in the Arcade Club, he plans to bring in more, so much so that he plans to open a third floor to the public.
“There will be between ten and twenty VR setups on the new eSports floor, as well as possibly sixty PCs. We will back what everybody wants.” With this new eSports floor, the modern gaming floor will then be converted into a floor entirely dedicated to Japanese games that he imports.
These ambitions may seem impossible, to even have sixty PC setups, however, the Arcade Club family has this amazing mindset and drive to include all possible aspects of gaming for everyone to enjoy, and everyone should be aware of these achievements.
“I’ve been collecting for around twenty years. We’re on the ball with it, we’re changing and making the Arcade Club the greatest place on Earth.”
Andy and his family have created a very successful arcade within Manchester, bringing people from around the world to play at the Arcade Club, and whilst you’re a student at the University of Manchester, this is definitely a place you need to visit.