Digbeth, you did it again! After just visiting a new board game café a couple of weeks ago, I was back to the Custard Factory this month for the launch of Digbeth’s new a retro Arcade bar NQ64.
You may be young and relate retro arcades to some scenes of The Stranger Things, but the truth is that its concept is as old school as most of the console games you can play in those places and retro gaming bars are a quite popular thing in this country.
I’m just glad that Brum has another adding to the city.
It’s a nostalgic trip to some of us – like me – that grow up playing Atari and has ticked all the boxes when talking about 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and now 6th generation of console games. Supernes, Nintendo 64, Sega, Mega Drive, and now Playstation 5 coming soon. You name it and I’m in!
So, yes, NQ64 was already under my radar before its opening. Then, I was invited to its special launch night and things just got better. I was ready to unleash my inner child.
Placed in the heart of Custard Factory, NQ64 features some of the most popular and iconic retro arcade games – all run on a token system. In a cost of £7 for 15 tokens (price updated from December 21). From Space Invaders to dancing machines. You got to love it!
It was a nice surprise to see that the place was already packed when we arrived. It seems that the organisers gave away 50 drinks free each day for the first 50 people over this weekend launch. You heard it!
I had checked some pictures previously of the other two sister branches in Liverpool and Manchester. It looked stunning, of course. But it was a bit overwhelming to step inside soak all that funky décor with UV graffiti walls with old consoles as a theme that is also featured in NQ64 Birmingham.
It looks like you are just about to join that trip back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when bright and glowing were standard. There is also a lot neon involved and it’s a good thing. The room is fulfilled with retro and classic console machines, pinball and other retro arcades.
It’s important to remember that NQ64 is a cocktail and gaming bar. No children allowed, I’m afraid. Only 18’s over, thank goodness. It doesn’t serve food. There are lots of selected beers to wicked cocktails to choose from.
I love the bar. A nice touch as having a bar counter filled with thousand of tokens makes a lot of sense in a retro place.
The cocktail menu is pure fun. All the drinks are named with famous games and their characters such as Blanka (tequila, midori, cucumber, lemon, apple and agave) and Donkey Kong (pineapple rum, banana, chocolate and cream soda).
Both brilliant, by the way. But my heart goes with Bubble Bobble (rum & gin, grenadine, coconut, prosecco, lemon). You can’t get more retro than that.
Heads up to the most friendly staff – always with a smile in the face even in a quite busy night like a launching one. Thanks for keeping the energy up all night.
Did you say retro games and booze? The truth is every one went there to check those retro consoles and arcade machines. This is want makes arcade bars so popular. And it was always like this.
The concept of arcade bars started in late 70’s and early 80’s when people realised that playing their favourite games while drinking was much more fun. The also know Boozy playground for adults like the iconic Oregon’s Ground Control in Portland were spreading out all over the United States. Then becoming popular around the world.
NQ64 comes to Birmingham now also to preserve and reinforce the arcade culture. There were people from all ages enjoying retro consoles and machines probably older than most of them.
I just enjoyed have a tour around many decades of games history in a only single night playing my favourite ones Donkey Kong, Mortal Combat, Pac Man and Guitar hero. Is it only a nostalgic thing? Definitely not.
All I know it’s there now for us. One more Digbeth gem. If you like arcade consoles, get you tokens out and make the most of it.
Photos | Rob Dann
NB |*I was kindly invited to the launch night by NQ64.