Ever since CeX and Gamestation both quietly stopped stocking retro games a few years ago, fans of classic gaming in the UK have been forced to largely look to online sites such as eBay to satisfy their nostalgic urges.
However – while diminishing year on year – a small number of independent games and entertainment shops up and down the country which don’t have a bias towards newer systems do actually exist; although they’re often hidden away in obscure locations and require a bit of digging to find.
Many of these stores are a treasure trove of retro gaming goodness, and though some are highly overpriced (Retro Play in Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace, I’m looking at you disapprovingly), some are actually very competitive; combining the reasonable carboot sale prices with the vast selection of titles offered online.
On a recent trip to the East Yorkshire seaside resort of Bridlington, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Bitz, a gaming and DVD shop on the promenade. While the outside look cluttered – and many of the games on display had suffered from severe sunfading! – my retro senses were tingling and I decided to venture inside.
It proved to be one of the better decisions I’ve made recently, I must say. Bitz is almost like an Aladdin’s cave of retro gems; games for about as many systems as you can think of line the small shop’s walls, floors, and even shelves on the ceiling. As a 16- and 32-bit fanboy, I was impressed at the amount of PS1 and Megadrive drive titles in particular on offer here; ranging from the generic sports titles you’d expect to see to some rarer items, including limited edition controllers and accessories.
While Bitz stock a fantastic array of titles, it’s their pricing policy which make them stand out from other indie gaming stores. Most PS2 games are priced at £1, PS1 games range from £3 to £7 depending on their rarity; with Megadrive games on offer at £4 each or four for £10. Games for other consoles including the N64, Gameboy, Dreamcast and Saturn are all priced competitively; generally well below their going rate on eBay.
After spending well over half an hour chatting to the manager and making sure I’d explored every nook and cranny of the shop, I eventually came out with Goldeneye 007 and Banjo Kazooie for the Nintendo 64 (priced £5 and £7, respectively); Crash Team Racing and Ape Escape for the PS1 (priced at £5 and £4); and Sonic 3D for the Megadrive (£4). If I’d taken more cash with me I may well have ended up with a console or two as well!
If you’re not able to make it over to Bridlington yourself, check out this video tour of Bitz – courtesy of Retro Collect – to see what you’re missing out on: