Blast Galaxy arcade, Amsterdam

Across the river, ten minutes from Amsterdam Centraal there’s a nice little arcade called Blast Galaxy. Featuring almost 90 games ranging from Pac-Man to Dance Dance Revolution, visiting it with my friends was one the highlights of my most recent trip to Netherlands.

HOW IT WORKS

Like many newer arcades, Blast Galaxy has a one-time entrance fee. For 12,5€ you may enter the game room and play until closing. All games are set to free play, no further expense needed. The only additional cost is food, if so desired.

Upfront payment is much better value than the traditional model. I’ve often spent 6 or 8 euros just to play a handful of music games for an hour. Paying a little more to play any games you like for a whole evening is a great experience.

Something I appreciate about the arcade is the presence of a large resting zone, with console games and tables to eat. The arcade’s cafe offers typical dutch fries and serves alcohol at a fair price, making it possible to stay for long stretches. You can leave your coats on a rack and be unburdened while playing, though they will be unsupervised.

THE GAMES

Blast Galaxy has about 90 games on-site, most of them in their original cabinets. It’s a wide selection, with beat’em ups, racers, a good array of music games and quite a few classics. It’s not one of those arcades that picks up games because they are cheap; there’s an intention to it.

Highlights include golden era classics like Pac Man, Japanese imports in Múseca and even a working 8-player X-Men cabinet. Dance Dance Revolution sits next to one of those huge Darius Burst machines. On the other side of the arcade, Sega Rally, Galaga and Track and Field create a little corner to be lost in.

It’s a good enough roundup that I actually missed a large chunk of the games on display. It’s simply not possible to play them all in an evening. Playing Dance Evolution meant one less play of Metal Slug or not trying out the fighting games.

SMALL ISSUES

Sadly, the arcade also suffers from a range of small issues that render otherwise good games unplayable. The light gun games are all miscalibrated. The screens for Afterburner and Millipede are warped and show strange, greenish colours. Bubble Bobble has a non-working button and the joystick for Tetris was missing the ball at the top. Several games were not turned on, despite the website listing them in working condition.

Most of these are not difficult fixes. In fact, raising the volume on the music games and rearranging the layout a little would have been enough to significantly improve my experience.

It’s sad because Blast Galaxy hosts a bunch of high-maintenance games in perfect condition. It has a beautiful OutRun deluxe cabinet with working hydraulics. The Daytona USA cabinet features the often-lost force-feedback and the often-problematic Star Wars Arcade works smoothly and correctly.

However, these problems did not have too much of an impact on my experience. On one hand,excitedly pushing the start button only to see a barely functional game soured my mood. On the other, being able to play Taiko no Tatsujin, Gauntlet and OutRun was enough to justify the visit. In the end, it was not unlike the arcade having a dozen fewer games than advertised.

If I have one complaint about Blast Galaxy is that it’s not in my hometown of Madrid. Were it closer I would visit it until I had beaten all the games. It’s a very enjoyable place to hang out, play games and spend long evenings until close.

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