Ever since I was young I have been to computer shops to buy my games, and they have always been a magical place for me.
I come from a time when video games were defined by originality and playability, when only the best consoles were the imported ones from Japan and 60Hz was the only way to play games. I have owned a lot of computers and consoles ranging from the C64 to the Xbox 360 and think the 90’s was by far the best decade for video games and consoles.
Now all these shops have become extinct. Your only option is to buy a game from your local supermarket or online. Its not the same anymore. It is a very passionless and cold experience. Since games became more popular and more mainstream, the real game shops have disappeared. Yes, there are Game and Gamestation and I will be controversial here. They suck.
I like eBay. Its not a shop or an online shop, but its the best place to buy retro games and consoles. The sellers usually always add photos to the auction and this can certainly help fuel any nostalgia you may have, but is it the same as going to a video game shop in the 90’s? No. Its the same as playing a game in your home compared to the same game in an Arcade. Its just not the same.
I am originally from Nottingham and there were always numerous amounts of great computer and console shops. Until one day they all started to disappear one by one. I think its time to take a trip down memory lane.
Computer shops in the 80’s
I was quite young so don’t remember everything as vividly as the 90’s but I do remember very hazily some of the shops in my city.
– Godfreys in Bulwell,Nottingham. I spent many a time buying a £1.99 matertronic title from here for my humble C64.
– I can not remember the name but I do remember it was based at Hockley in Nottingham. They used to sell C64 games and I remember buying Incredible Hulk which came a free Comic. My first taste of an adventure game and if you have played it, you will understand the phrase “Bite Lip”.
– Boots. I remember going into Boots to look at the C64 games, it was very typical of buying games now from Asda or Morrisons. Not a great experience!
– Woolworths. I remember buying a Vextrex for roughly £24.99 and what a great buy that was. Games could be bought from upstairs in the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre roughly above where poundstrecher was. A very 80’s computer shop with geeky staff who loved their computers.
Computer shops in the 90’s
For myself a magical era in computers and the decade for consoles. The console introduced me to some amazing games and its when I realised that Japan is an amazing country producing some of the best games ever to grace a home living room.
– Around the time when the Amiga’s created a surge across my school playground, a computer shop appeared downstairs in the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. I remember vividly a Sonic clone running on an Amiga, which at the time blew me away. They also had Sesame Street playing on a CDi.
– Another very japanese style import shop at the top of Broadmarsh. I bought lots of Japanese Gameboy games from here, and I remember spending ages trying to persuade my mum to buy me Final Fight on the Super Famicom. I never got the money to buy Final Fight, but swapped it with someone at school a few months later. Its also the first time I saw Project X on the Amiga, Cyberlip on the Neo Geo and Pilot Wings on the Super Famicom. Absolutely stunning games.
– Software +
This is where I bought my first Japanese Megadrive game, Granada X. I didn’t even have a Megadrive at the time but loved the Japanese artwork so I bought a few more games. Insector X and Tongue of the Fatman. Everyone in my class had a UK Megadrive but I wanted a Japanese one because the games were cheaper and it was so much cooler. I was quite lucky because I got to play games unreleased in the UK which turned out to be classics. I loved Granada X and even now the 2nd Level impresses me and I love the music. Best song on the Megadrive by miles.
A Japanese console Aladdin’s Cave. I really really miss this place. It is by far the nearest I got to being in Japan, without actually being there. They had all these amazing consoles. Sharp TV’s with a built in Super Famicom. PC Engine GT, PC Engine Shuttle, WonderMega, Neo Geo, Mega CD, the list is endless. I could spend hours there looking at the intro to a Japanese game. Hearing a Mega-CD game with CD quality music for the first time was just an amazing experiance. Sol-Feace had the best soundtrack. First time I ever went in they were playing Big Run on Super Famicom on a huge TV behind the counter and Fatal Fury on the Neo Geo.
– Beyond 2000
I remember going upstairs every Saturday with my friend to buy the latest Amiga PD demos. Such a great scene with lots of passionate people who knew Dcopy and Xcopy like the back of their hand.
Robin Hood Computers – They were on the same side as Beyond 2000 and facing CO-OP. They were next to a martial arts shop inside the arcade. I remember buying lots of blank 3.5″ discs from here and seeing Star Fox on the SNES for the first time. My couson working here helped because he would get me discount. Brilliant!
– Computer Plus? There used to be a cut through called the Arcade across the road from Co-Op. An Asian woman woman with a strong accent run the shop. She used to sell all sorts of wonderfull japanese consoles and games. The shop never lasted very long, but it was fuin while it lasted. My second favorite Japanese based Console shop in Nottingham. Thanks!
– Electronic Boutique in the city centre. I remember entering the StarFox competition at the one next to Littlewoods and not winning anything. I also used to buy lots of Game Gear games from here and remember buying a magazine with a StreetFighter 2 soundtrack CD. I also remember buying Sherlock Holmes for the PC CDROM. My dad said PC’s are the future, I said, no way, consoles are! We both were kinda right.
– Electronic Boutique near to Game. I bought my first Nintendo 64 and got about 8 games for £149.99. Bargain.
– East meets West, AKA another name (can’t remember) AKA (yup another name change) AKA Andy’s Shop. This was in Hucknall facing the police station and was probably the last ever Jap console shop. They sold Neo Geo, PC Engine, Virtual Boy. My friend even bought a SuperGun cheap from here and I remember swapping my Sega Saturn for a Neo Geo then swapping that for a PCFX then that for a PC Engine with some games. I didn’t care, I got to play on all these great consoles again.
– Another world. I remember going downstairs into the basement and looking at the 3D0 and Atari Jaguar games. The only competition was the SNES and Megadrive which were looking old about now.
– Game. great place or was. Now it seems very much go in, buy a game, come out. Not much of an experience. I remember seeing Sonic R on the huge projection TV’s running on a Saturn. Amazing game too.
My dream would be to open a shop like Megacom and rule the retro game world. I know there are shops like this still in Japan and looking on ebay there is obviously a demand for retro games and consoles so why are there no shops? To me Megacom was the ultimate video game shop. It featured Japanese consoles, games with text I can not understand and plastic cases with absolutely fantastic artwork on the cover.
The way we buy games are changing and I don’t think we will ever get any video game shops like this ever again and for me that is a big shame.