Arcades – long ago they were the bastion of gaming, hidden havens for eager gamers to experience games that were more advanced than anything home console and computer gaming could offer. Unfortunately, these places are a dying industry thanks to dramatic improvements in console and computer gaming.
When I was younger one of my favourite places to go was Playtime at Charlestown, a small arcade next to Hoyts movie theatre. Unfortunately, the place shut down and sadly was never seen again. Now, Timezone has opened a new branch in Charlestown shopping centre, and I was eager to take a look. I'll be judging the place on two aspects: games and pricing.
The variety of games at Timezone Newcastle is surprisingly small. There are a number of casual ticket-games but these are usually short-lived gimmicks that offer very little reward for the amount of money a player sinks into them. Prizes for the tickets are clearly geared toward children and could be purchased for only a fraction of the cost it takes to win them.
There are of non ticket games covering the genres of racing, light gun shooters, fighting games, and Stacking games, but none of these games are particularly fun and most of them can be purchased on a home console. During my visit I played House of the Dead 4, a game that lured me in with its decent graphics, but the game was nothing more than a money sink. Even with a reasonable level of skill it took me at least 30 credits to complete the game thanks to undodgeable boss attacks and ridiculous 'shake the gun to survive' sections, I don't recommend this game to anyone.
One game in particular that I did like was called Haunted Museum 2. Despite its goofy premise the game was a solid light gun shooter that was designed to be played for fun rather than a credit sink.
This is by far the worst part of Timezone. To play any of the arcade machines you have to sign up for a card, which isn't a problem but what is a problem is the high prices to play any of the machines. The cheap ticket games which last for around one to three minutes to play cost $1.10 to play, while all other games cost $2.20 per credit. Considering that many games are deliberately designed to be a credit sink, this makes it incredibly difficult to finish a game without spending close to the price of a game that you could own instead of playing and finishing once.
Timezone Charlestown is a flashy store without much substance. Its prices are very high except when it offers significant discounts. I would recommend a one-time visit out of curiosity but not much else due to its high prices and lack of variety.