After exploding onto the bar scene in Manchester back in 2019, NQ64 have since opened their second site in the city (in June 2021). Located on Peter Street, next to Albert’s Schloss, NQ64 now have another Manchester hub to bring everyone all of the arcade fun one could want – including me!
The first ever NQ64 site opened on Short Street in the Northern Quarter, just behind Crazy Pedro’s. Obviously, it was a huge success, and there was a clear buzz about the new venue in the centre of Manchester. I mean, when most people heard that there was a new place to play old video games and drink, they were there by the end of the week.
Personally, I went to the first site soon after it’s opening, and I did the same for the new site. I was curious to see what was different. Here’s what I found!
NQ64 Peter Street – The New Venue
In a similar fashion to the Short Street venue, you’re greeted with what’s now a staple neon ‘NQ64’ sign, along with graffiti all over the walls leading down the stairs. The contrast of the dark walls & bright graffiti draws your attention down, leading you to the venue.
You’ll easily be able to escape life and reality for as long as you like – which I think is a sign of a very good bar. As soon as you’re through the doors, you’ll see a huge room full of a wide variety of games. The theme continues with the graffiti everywhere, and just like that, you’re drawn in.
I walked in and one of the first thoughts that popped into my mind was: “Well, I wont be leaving here any time soon.” Most of the games are visible from the moment you step through the door, giving you plenty of choices, and all you will want to do is explore.
My Trip to Arcade Heaven
On my trip to NQ64, the first thing that clocked my attention was the ever-popular Time Crisis II, and after a swift trip to the bar to get my game tokens, I was straight on to it, no messing about. I spent a good 10 minutes on the shooter in an attempt to get to the end, as well as a good amount of tokens on lives because I’m not as good as I thought.
Then, it was time to explore. Ticking off Time Crisis II (they do also have Time Crisis III, by the way), I began wandering around to see what else was on offer. In the middle of the floor, there’s a bench, along with a row of old games consoles that will give you a bit of a throwback. I opted for the PlayStation 1 that’s available, which has a list of games for you to choose from.
There is a Nintendo console, as well as a Sega console, but they were clearly in-demand on the night I went. They will probably be a priority next time I go. So, I headed off to take a look at what was round the corner at the opposite end to the entrance. I found a Guitar Hero machine that I had to get on.
As it’s on its own little platform, you can rock out without that many people watching. Which means there won’t be as many people to watch you fail at trying to be Tom Morello when playing Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Bulls on Parade’ – which is exactly what I tried.
After having a go on a retro pinball machine, I then decided to try out one more nostalgic game before I left. Crazy Taxi was a huge throwback; there was a period of time in my childhood where that was all I played at home. I was probably much better at it back then. It may even be the fact that it’s probably easier to play without a driving licence (or maybe I’m just making that up to make myself feel better).
The Bar – Plenty of Choices
The ever-popular Camden Town Brewery is on draught at NQ64, as well as a couple of Beavertown Brewery options. However, I opted for the bottles & cans throughout my visit. First up, I had a can of ‘Cwtch’ from Tiny Rebel brewery, based in Newport. Actually, I had two or three of them – it’s delicious. Then, I moved on to a more local beer – a Mango Unchained from Shindigger. I was definitely feeling fruity after two of those.
The attentive staff behind the bar are absolutely ‘on it’, and I never had to wait long to get a round in. The bar is where you also get your gaming tokens, which is extremely helpful as they are handed to you straight away.
There’s plenty of different choices at the bar, and it’s likely that there’s something for everyone.
If beers & cider aren’t your thing, there’s even a selection of video game-inspired cocktails to choose from, which I thought was a nice added touch. I stuck to the beers on this particular visit, but maybe that’s one more reason I need to go back.
My Final Verdict
Fortunately, I’ve now been able to try both sites in Manchester. NQ64 is a great place to take anyone, and I highly recommend heading to Peter Street (if you haven’t already, that is). Unlike some other bars with a unique selling point, the novelty of playing retro arcade games really doesn’t wear off.
As there’s so much to do, and so much to play (I didn’t even get to go on the dance mat), it’s more often than not that customers are in absolutely no rush to leave. If that’s not the sign of a top bar, then I really don’t know what is!
With a selection of craft beers and old games, I was in my element, and I absolutely need to go back soon. Oh, and by the way, the Peter Street site is open ‘til 3am every day of the week – get yourself down for some late night arcade action!