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The National Videogame Arcade

With no offence intended, your first thought might be "Why Nottingham?" The city has held an annual festival of videogames named GameCity since 2006, and the National Videogame Arcade is an off-shoot of that: a permanent celebration of gaming in the city's creative quarter. GameCity's angle is that videogames are an artform; the NVA naturally adopts this too.

All the floors of the building have either working arcade machines from yesteryear (including Point Blank, Track & Field, Ms. Pacman and Donkey Kong), consoles/computers set up with a decent mix of retro and modern hits or exhibits. The first of the latter when I visited was a party game called Dash and Bash that took up a whole wall. Four screens were matched with four buttons and players had to hit the button under the screen on which their pre-selected symbol appeared. It played like a board game more than anything else, and would take some rejigging before you could see it working in the home.

 One of the many working consoles in the National Videogame Arcade. It's a visual feast for the eyes!

One of the many working consoles in the National Videogame Arcade. It's a visual feast for the eyes!

That floor was quite creative all told, in fact. Mario Paint was on display - first time I'd ever used the SNES mouse! - whilst a whole room was devoted to Minecraft. Most intriguingly of all was a room-filling game called Mission Control, which had players designing enemies to take on in the game, a simple shoot-'em-up. This creativity spilled into the Jump! exhibition, which started with a lovely room filled with screens of various gaming characters, each one equipped with a button that made him/her - yes! - jump.

Before the floor opened out to reveal various platform games, there was a crazy-looking contraption set up on which you jumped, and an on-screen character would copy you. By altering the in-game settings, you could make the avatar jump as high as you liked. There was an impressive collection of platformers inside: everything from Jet Set Willy (or its sequel; it was hard to tell) to PS4 Rayman Legends. Amongst these was a lovely exhibit showcasing jumps, double jumps and wall jumps, with each jump type having its own level. The wall jump one was too hard, though, and I had to give up to save embarrassment!

The same floor held a feature I'd like to see developed: something called a 'Game Inspector', which showed the first level of MD Sonic The Hedgehog. You shift the camera's position rather than Sonic's, meaning you could see the whole level in less than a minute. Très cool!

 First Time Playing... The DK Bongos! I was sort of not rubbish. Almost.

First Time Playing... The DK Bongos! I was sort of not rubbish. Almost.

Up a further set of stairs - past the original Donkey Kong arcade machine (!) - was the History Of Videogames In 100 Objects (but not before a quick bash on Donkey Konga). Inevitably there was all kinds of retro goodies in there, including a Super Scope and the first issue of EDGE magazine, sitting not entirely awkwardly next to a Kirby amiibo. It was fascinating to see what had made the cut, and you can tell that this will evolve over time as gaming marches ever onwards.

Final Verdict: (seriously? - Ed) (always wanted to do an 'Ed' joke! - Zero) Part museum and part (yes!) arcade, the National Videogame Arcade is clearly a project in development. It is well worth a visit, particularly if you are a fan of retro gaming. Although fans of more modern fare may struggle to see the appeal, we feel it's a venture that all gamers should be supporting.