Based in North Acton, London, the Heart of Gaming is the capital’s most recent arcade complex. And one that’s run a little differently from others. Instead of players unlocking their gaming action via pay-as-you-go (ie. inserting a coin, typically a pound, in exchange for a limited amount of play) punters pay a flat entrance fee and are then entitled to use any machine they wish for as long as they want.
Myself and Cyburn popped along for a few hours last Saturday and had a jolly good time. The arcade machines featured are particularly good for two-player multiplayer action (most having two sets of controls, and even a room of connected back to back machines, allowing for players to challenge each other while using a whole other terminal). This, ofcourse, suited us to a tee. Titles we played included :
- Street Fighter 3
- Time Crisis 2
- In the Groove
- Mario Kart 64
- Smash Bros Melee (on the Heart of Gaming’s Gamecube)
- Super Mario Bros (on the Heart of Gaming’s SNES)
We were fortunate enough to witness the HoG’s famous Sonic 2 halfpipe wall painting being worked on. Its artist April May June (who you can find on Twitter at @0Apes0) was there for most of the time we were, and was happy to chat to us and shoot the breeze about classic Sonic games during her well-deserved breaks. She told us she has plans to decorate more walls with Sonic art once the Special Stage scene is done. As massive Sonic fans we simply can’t wait to see the results.
The other revelers were all friendly and the place had a really nice vibe. My only regret is not buying dinner from the Tesco Express on the way. Why? Because the Heart of Gaming staff are perfectly cool with punters bringing in food from outside. And have some lovely spots to eat (consisting of a comfy lounge and a scenic garden spot). Despite this I opted to go for pub-grub, and ended up raking out a fortune for food and a drink at an over-priced pub I won’t mention. Still, you live and learn. Aside from Tesco there’s also a Dominos nearby (what food could possibly be more quintessentially game-ish than a Dominos pizza? Doritos aside…). So yea, there are local food outlets to suit every budget.
In conclusion, whether it’s reliving some recent console classics with mates, delving further into popular arcade titles than you previously got a chance to or simply making new gamer friends, the Heart of Gaming offers something for everyone. It’s easy to see why this venue often attracts customer numbers in excess of 100. With its impressive (and constantly updating) range of arcade machines, its various consoles, plus generous chill-out areas, it really has the feel of a gaming convention. And, luckily, one that never ends. We at 3DSBlessed will certainly be returning soon. Long live the Heart of Gaming!
The address for Heart Of Gaming is:
10 Cullen Way, North Acton, London, NW10 6JZ