Touching joysticks

I’ve just returned from an excellent day visting The Cave and the Arcade Archive with friends.

I’ve visited the cave before, and wrote up my experience in Visiting The Cave last year. I decided since (nearly) a year had passed, it was time to visit again.

When I mentioned online to some friends, that I was planning on going, they all booked tickets for the same day. We arrived just before 11am, met the greeters who checked our tickets, showed us up the stairs, and introduced the venue.

The Cave

We spent the three hour slot in the cave making the most of the exhibits. We all played with classic 8-bit systems we owned and loved, but also had new experiences with systems that were new to us. Hugo played Mario Kart for the first time on a Super Nintendo, and Martin popped his GameCube cherry in the cave.

We also spent time chatting with Neil about the exhibits, history, future plans for his YouTube channel, and the Retro Collective. One thing I love about visiting the cave is the friendly discourse. Striking up a conversation with people you barely know about a topic you have in common is easy there.

Another thing I value about The Cave is the ‘hands-on’ policy. You’re actively encouraged to pick things up and touch them.

Do touch

Never mind touching grass, I spent the entire day touching joysticks.

Neil mentioned a future project from the Retro Collective, the Agon Console8. A single board Z80 based computer which boots to BBC BASIC. “Would you like to have a look?” says Neil, “Duh”.

Agon console8

I got to play Golden Axe on the mysterious Sega “Tower of Power”.

The tower of power

I also got the opportunity to play Tetris on a McDonald’s chicken nugget, which was a first for me.

Chicken nugget Tetris

After playing games, fondling exhibits and chatting, it was time for lunch. We drove a few minutes down the road to the Lavender Bakehouse where we enjoyed a delicious light meal. No sooner had we finished than it was time to head back.

From 3pm to 6pm we played classic arcade games in the Arcade Archive. This was another fun session. There’s around thirty working arcade cabinets set to ‘free play’.

They have classics from Pong, Space Invaders, PacMan and Defender to more ‘modern’ classics like 1942, OutRun, Track & Field and Gauntlet II.

Arcade Archive

Everyone gets plenty of opportunity to play on anything and everything. There’s a few machines they’re still working on, which is to be expected with kit of this age. The staff are all very friendly and happy to chat, show and tell. We even had a brief tour of the nearby repair area, where there will soon be more video content made. All very exciting and interesting.

In between all that, I tried and failed to unseat Martin from the 1942 high score table!

Wimpy beat me

I had a great day out, with good friends, playing some fun games and chatting about nerdy stuff. I’d recommend a visit if you can manage it. I’ll certainly be visiting again sometime.