Deputy Culture Editor
The chance to play genuine, non-homebrewed arcade cabinet is one of gaming’s rarest pleasures now that venues for playing arcades either lie abandoned or are full of knock-off iOS ports and artless gambling machines. The satisfaction of stick control, the click of a button, or the kinaesthetic pleasure of playing using a peripheral that simulates the on-screen actions of shooting or steering are all but gone from the home (outside of fighting games) and are on the brink of extinction due to the extremely specific and expensive hardware.
Enter Super Bario, a new venue in Glasgow that has decided to pair a love of old school arcade cabinets with a central location and a decent supply of beer. I spoke to co-owner George, who explains how they took to Kickstarter to get the last bit of funding, and pushed opening back until after Christmas.
“We (George and co-owners X Y) felt that, with the dawn of online gaming, playing with your friends had kind of disappeared, and we wanted to create a space to enable that.” Instead of following similar trends of gaming bars that are more frequently popping up given the gaming demographic is aging, Super Bario opted to go for a more niche route: acquiring proper arcade cabinets to give a unique draw to their venue.
We chat about some of our favourite cabinets (The Ocean Hunters is one of mine, George is a huge fan of the Original Outrun cabinet), whilst taking stock of what’s available. Super Bario has two pinball tables, Super Mario and Baywatch, and nine arcade cabs currently available. Most are the traditional stand up types, featuring game boards that allow for switching between branded games; Namco and NeoGeo quad cabs here, but there is also Michael Jackson’s cult classic Moonwalker, Sega’s gaudy horror shooter House of the Dead and vertical cabs of Sega Rally and Ridge Racer.
The sentiment about internet multiplayer rings true, and these days in Japan arcades thrive despite this. Originally they allowed people to play together outside of the tight confines of metropolitan Japan, but there is no such restriction in the West. “The hardest to get cabinets were the two sit down Japanese cabs. You can tell by the design difference that arcades have a different significance in Japan, and it’s a shame it was never as popular here.” One white cab is a pristine copy of X-men vs. Streetfighter, replete with flashy oversized sprites that face off in glorious comic book style.
“The one cabinet we were sad we couldn’t get hold of was the original Outrun Cab, but it’s both a money and a space concern”. Right now Super Bario only operates on the ground floor of their venue, and on a Friday night it’s already quite packed. There are plans to eventually expand, and maybe utilise the space downstairs, but the difficulty of securing and maintaining cabinets is a constant consideration.
At the moment however, novelty of the cabinets, the central location, and the general atmosphere of nerdy camaraderie set this bar apart from others. The selection is curated, and there are games ready to rotate in if things ever get stale. The staff are even learning a bit of home electronics, as George explains the struggle of keeping pinball machines and old arcade cabinets running. Given the fact that almost all of the cabs are set to free play (only Pinball and House of the Dead require cash, and they’re tweaked for extra credits per pound), there’s a guarantee you’ll be able to have a shot at any cabinet without pause or hesitation.
Given Glasgow’s already prominent gaming scene, Super Bario feels like another obvious idea that just needed the right people with enough enthusiasm behind it to get started. It’s a clear passion project, from the selection of the games down to the customised artwork on the walls that riffs on some of the most iconic gaming artwork. Even if you aren’t into gaming, the ambiance of the pinball machines and clattering of arcade sticks gives this bar a one of a kind attract mode.