Have you ever longed for the old school arcade games of the 70s? Many people miss Pac-Man and other classic games, but what they don’t know is that arcades aren’t dying out. They’re still around, and luckily for those of us who live in Edinburgh, they’re spread all over Scotland’s capital city. So those of us nostalgic for neon lights and claw machines don’t have to wish for times gone by – they’re still with us, and they’re not going anywhere. In this article, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best arcades in Edinburgh, together with instructions on where to find them. So why not meet up with some friends and revisit the scenes of so much childhood fun?

6 arcades in Edinburgh to play

These are the most popular (and for good reason) arcades in Edinburgh for playing all kinds of games. Some have more of a casino vibe with slot machines and coin pushers, while others have retro style arcade games too.

1. Funstation

arcades Edinburgh - Funstation at Fountain Park arcade bar
Source: Fountain Park

Don’t bring any cash to this one – they’re completely cashless, so all you have to do is tap your card to play. They’re open every day, from 11am on weekdays and 10am on weekends. All the classic arcade games are available, along with adventure golf, and they promise a fun-filled experience for all ages. They even do different promotions now and again, such as their Easter promotion where you could win a cute Easter bunny plushie when you buy the Easter bonus. It’s located in Fountain Park, where there’s also a Nuffield’s gym, casino, bowling, trampoline park and lots of places to eat and drink.

Address: Fountain Park, 130 Dundee Street

2. NQ64 Edinburgh

NQ64 - retro arcade in Edinburgh with games and things to do for students
Source: NQ64

This retro-themed bar offers cocktails based on video games, a variety of spirits and sodas, and, of course, arcade machines. There are different booking options depending on how many people will be going – couples should choose a ‘Two Player’ booking, while larger groups can book a table (although there is a minimum spend). They’ve got 27 arcade machines, 2 pinball machines, and 5 retro consoles available, and you’ve got plenty of time to game as they’re open until late. But with cocktails called ‘Kirby’, ‘Kong Island Iced Tea’, and ‘Cowabunga’, NQ64 clearly has more to offer than just games. They take pride in their refreshments, and for those wanting to eat there, they even sell pizza. So what are you waiting for? Go get that high score! (But remember, they’re strictly 18+).

Address: 25 Lothian Road

3. Lane 7

Lane 7 Edinburgh arcade
Source: Lane 7 Edinburgh

Although it’s primarily a bowling alley, Lane 7 also features some classic arcade games. Their arcades are walk-in only, so there’s no need to book – just show up! While you’re there, get some lunch at the Fat Hippo and try out some of their other activities, such as augmented darts and shuffleboard. Just keep in mind that they don’t accept cash like some of the other arcades in Edinburgh.

Address: Floor 4.02b, St James Square

4. Air Thrill

Air Thrill Edinburgh arcade machines
Source: Air Thrill Edinburgh Facebook

Called ‘Edinburgh’s coolest inflatable park and arcade’, Air Thrill certainly has a lot to live up to. Its attractions include wipeout, mini football, and, of course, arcades. It launched only last year, making it one of the newest arcades in Edinburgh, and it’s one of the only ones to provide VR machines at no extra cost. Just in case you didn’t know – VR machines are an up-and-coming technology that may well prove to be the future of arcades, so don’t pass up this opportunity to give them a go.

Address: Unit 2, Westside Plaza, Wester Hailes

5. Noble’s Arcade

Nobels Amusements Portobello Edinburgh Facebook arcade games and slot machines
Source: Nobels Amusements Portobello Edinburgh Facebook

This is probably the most ‘classic’ establishment on this list of arcades in Edinburgh. It’s family-run, and it’s been around for longer than anyone can remember. It’s even located on the beachfront in Portobello. Its arcade games include Doodle Jump and Angry Birds, alongside older games such as Pac-Man. Test your skill on coin pushers, claw machines, and ball toss games, along with modern-style video games. If you win, most machines will provide you with more tickets to carry on with the fun! On a summer’s day, you’ll be able to head outside for a dip in the ocean afterwards. If you’re hungry, you’ll be able to choose from a selection of ice creams, seafood, and pizzas. What more could you ask for?

Address:47 – 49 Figgate Lane

6. Mortal Kocktail

 

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As the name suggests, Mortal Kocktail is primarily a cocktail bar. However, it also boasts a selection of arcade games and pinball games. There are a couple of free arcade games, although most cost £1 to play. They also serve snacks, such as fries and mac and cheese, and are open until late every night. You can find old-school type arcade games here like Tekken, as well as themed ones like Star Wars or Sopranos. They also do lots of tournaments so you can get competitive too.

Address: 29 Craig’s Close, Cockburn Street

The origins of popular arcade games in Edinburgh

types of arcade games in Edinburgh - canva

Now that you’ve been introduced to some of Edinburgh’s best arcades, you might be wondering about the details of the games themselves. Almost everyone remembers playing coin pushers and claw machines in arcades during their childhood, but did you know where these popular games even came from? They’ve dominated arcades in the UK for many years, but why exactly are they so popular? I’ve done some research into the subject to help readers gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, these childhood classics.

Coin Pushers

coin pushers - canva arcade games

This coin game requires players to drop coins into slots in the machine, which will roll down to a shelf covered with coins and prizes. The coins are then pushed towards the edge of the shelf, where they fall onto a lower shelf of prizes. The lower shelf is also being pushed by a platform, and anything that falls off this shelf will become the player’s prize! To increase the chances of winning, players should aim to time their coin drops carefully – they should be synchronised with the rhythm of the machine’s pushing.

Coin pushers are thought to have been invented around 1963. When the Cromptons Penny Fall Coin Pusher was developed in 1964, it became the template for all coin games that followed. Now, coin pushers are popular in countries as far apart as the UK and Japan.

Due to their low price per play, coin pushers remain extremely popular. Most machines charge 2p per play, meaning £1 can give you 50 chances to win! This makes it an addictive, long-lasting and budget-friendly arcade game. Possible prizes vary, but often include keyrings, watches, and small stuffed animals.

Claw Machines

claw machine arcade games - edinburgh

Also known as ‘crane grabbers’, these are another arcade staple. In these games, the player operates a metal ‘claw’ with the aim of grabbing and winning a prize, typically a stuffed animal. Although they’re often presented as games of skill, they involve more luck than the player might realise.

Claw machines are believed to have originated in the United States in the 1890s, and were inspired by the machines used to dig out the Panama Canal. Since then, they’ve become well-known symbols in pop culture, even featuring in movies such as Toy Story.

It’s no wonder these games are popular – everyone wants to win a cute soft toy, and the game’s simplicity makes it easy to play (though not necessarily easy to win!) You can spend as much or as little as you like in your quest to win the perfect prize.

I hope you’ve been inspired to pay a visit to your closest arcade, and to have another go on some games you might not have played in years! Amusement arcades just have a certain charm that modern video games can’t replicate. Although their popularity has certainly declined in recent years, they’re still around and unlikely to be going anywhere. They also make for a great date night in Edinburgh, giving you something fun to do.

If you’re still in search of a cool activity for the weekend, why not check out the best places to play paintball in Edinburgh? Alternatively, if you’re searching for cool seaside towns, there’s also this list of the best beaches near Edinburgh.

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