In the world of pop culture, gaming has evolved into one of the most enduring mediums. Humble arcade games, like Space Invaders and Pac-Man, have transformed into legendary series that are known across generations. Gaming has the power to bring people together and create memorable experiences. When there’s beer involved, so much the better. So, when I caught wind of a bar that catered to gamers and beer fans, I set off on a quest to find it. Manchester’s NQ64 did not disappoint.
When I arrived at NQ64, I was struck by the neon sign that flashed above the door, which made me think of the classic Nintendo symbol. That feeling of nostalgia would be a constant throughout the night. I descended into the depths of the bar, glow in the dark graffiti lighting my way. After opening the door, I was greeted by the sight of retro machines. I’d completed the first level of my quest.
Heading to the bar, I received 15 tokens to try out as many games as I could handle. The first machine to draw my attention was the classic Konami X-Men game that brought me back to watching the ‘90s cartoon on Fox Kids. Humming the theme tune, I picked Cyclops and worked my way through levels filled with deadly Sentinels. Button mashing got the better of me and I couldn’t resist blowing every enemy up with Cyke’s trusty optic blast.
From there, my journey into the greatest hits of gaming only got more intense. I took on wave after wave of aliens in Space Invaders and Galaga, failing to save the universe both times. I dived into the world of Street Fighter II and got my arse kicked by the tag team of Chun Li and Ryu. I managed to restore my wounded pride by causing a few fatalities on Mortal Kombat and scoring a pin fall with Hulk Hogan on WWF WrestleFest. The feeling of triumph lasted for about a minute when I got shot multiple times on Time Crisis II.
Pop culture inspired drinks
My gaming misadventures were made even more memorable by the variety of drinks on offer. I sipped on a Mad Max, a concoction of gold rum, pineapple, grenadine and absinthe. Feeling levelled up, I went back to the machines and played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, Robocop and Pac-Man.
At the end of the night, I felt like I’d found one of my new favourite bars. The range of games is amazing, featuring pinball, arcade and console devices. The consoles are free to play, while £5 gets you 15 tokens to spend. As an arcade bar, NQ64’s drinks are as important as their games. Cocktails like the Galaga and Mario are a reflection of the atmosphere.
NQ64 caters to gamers new and old, transporting them back to the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s a brilliant addition to Manchester’s Northern Quarter and I see it going from strength to strength.
2 Short Street M4 1PW