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Checking out the NQ64 Bar Arcade in Bristol

A neon-tinged mural of Abe from the Oddworld game series
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Whilst on a day trip to attend the Bristol Gaming and Anime Con, both my wife and I stumbled across something we never knew existed. An establishment called the NQ64 Bar Arcade. Situated on Baldwin Street, this place offers the chance to play a multitude of retro arcade games in a neon-soaked oasis of nostalgia.

Neon nostalgia

Dotted around the building were a ton of old arcade cabinets. Personal favourites I saw included Time Crisis 2 and Point Blank 2. Yeah, I love me some arcade shooters! There were a bunch of sweet murals dotted around too. My wife immediately gravitated towards the Abe one, as the Oddworld series is one of her favourites. In fact, all the walls seemed to have something interesting to look at, and the overall grungy vibe was pretty damn awesome.

Each of the cabinets worked on a token-based system, all of which could be bought from the bar. Alongside the cabinets, there are also consoles to play on. These are free to use, but you are kinda expected to buy a drink or two if playing them.

We didn’t spend a huge amount of time here sadly, as we were both hungry. There didn’t seem to be much on offer when it came to food. Which is fine. It’s a bar and not a restaurant. It was past lunchtime when we visited, and we really wanted to sit down and eat something. Still, the limited time we were there really piqued my interest. Definitely, a place I’m going to head over to the next time I’m in Bristol.

A pretty cool place

I still think I prefer the Boneyard Arcade in Exeter though. That feels a little more homegrown somehow. It does make me happy to see these old arcade machines being given a second lease of life. I would much rather them be used by the general public in some capacity. Rather than being completely destroyed, or hidden away by some obsessive collector to “increase in value” or something.

Despite the awesome machines and sweet-looking artwork, the choice of music was kinda questionable. I know that it’s a place for 18+ people only, but having mega-sweary music kinda brought the tone down a little. And as someone who wants to introduce the younger generations to some absolutely classic ways to have a good time, it does kinda suck that kids can’t come in. Ah well, adults do have to have adult places to hang out, I suppose. Apparently, there is an NQ64 Bar Arcade in more cities than Bristol, so there’s plenty of opportunity to visit one.

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Jamie Depledge

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