Play Bideford, an arcade in Devon – review
This article is from Retro Games Collector. Click the title to hop over there.
The south west of England is my preferred holiday location and I do try to make it down to Devon and Cornwall at least once a year, often many times more. So last year when Play Bideford opened and I just happened to be staying around 30 minutes away, I felt it necessary for a visit. It would have been rude not to, would it not? I wasn’t disappointed – but a year on, what has changed? And is it for the better?
I can happily report that it has indeed changed. Quite a bit actually. And definitely for the better.
Situated in the upper part of High Street in Bideford town centre, Play is a small but well equipped haven for gamers of all ages. Upon entry, I was warmly greeted by Mike and Elliot who were happy to tell me all about the changes that had taken place since my last visit. Amongst the various arcade games on the ground floor, they now have an 80s classics section including beautiful original cabinets such as Space Invaders, Galaxians and Pac-Man but they still cater for the kids (and grandkids) of the original arcade generations – with the first floor being kitted out with modern consoles, classic mini consoles, sofas and large screen TVs. And that is where the appeal of Play Bideford lies – they cater for everyone.
As already mentioned, the ground floor is where the arcade action is, with 90s multi-player sit down racers rubbing shoulders with more modern classics like Guitar Hero. The variety is great, puzzlers, light gun shooters, racers and older classics are all here and the sights and sounds are just pure nostalgia to old arcade addicts like me. Pinball machines, air hockey, a pool table and table football are also located near the bar.
My family were all with me, and although my Wife isn’t particularly into retro gaming at all, she does love a session on Guitar Hero and a quick blast on Space Invaders or Pac-Man. She is now also a fan of Rock Band which was set up for use with guitars and a drum set in the console area upstairs. She spent a good proportion of her time there pretending to be Joan Jett. Needless to say, my retro-loving kids were having a great time, they can often be found playing on my Jamma cab at home and here at Play my Son was constantly torn between playing classic oldies, Mario games on the Wii U, the sit-down racers or the plethora of lightgun games. My daughter enjoyed the consoles, Guitar Hero and the sit-down racers in particular but it is safe to say that none of us were bored for a single minute we were there.
And once at Play, there is no need to leave for something to eat and drink either as there is a well stocked bar and hot food available. I can recommend the cheesy chips!
The strength of Play Bideford is in its diverse range of games to play. There is something for every generation here, Mums, Dads and their kids can all be kept happy whether they are more at home on a console or would rather experience the thrill of an arcade again. I liked Play the first time I visited. I never wanted to leave this time round.