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Ipswich retro gaming arcade Blast from the Past relocates to Microshops from Felixstowe’s Beach Street





The owner of a retro gaming arcade hoping to allow a new generation to experience classics from the past four decades is excited to set up shop in Ipswich.

Blast from the Past, previously based in Felixstowe’s Beach Street, opened in the Microshops, in Carr Street, last Monday.

The arcade was set up by former Microsoft employee Allister Frost, 45, in August.

He has been collecting computers and games consoles since the 1980s – with his stash encompassing more than 10,000 titles.

Mr Frost, who has worked in IT for 25 years, said the arcade was sure to offer a kick of nostalgia to many veteran gamers, while also allowing young people to try their hand at some of gaming’s greatest hits.

Mr Frost said: “What I want is to offer an experience and for people to get the chance to play these games before they’re gone. They won’t last forever.

Allister Frost opened Blast from the Past at Ipswich Microshops last week. Picture: Ash Jones
Allister Frost opened Blast from the Past at Ipswich Microshops last week. Picture: Ash Jones

“We get people in who perhaps haven’t played some of these games for decades and they bring their children and share these moments with them.

“We have about 40 consoles and more than 800 games for people to enjoy, with more to come, and the new location offers us room to expand.

“I think the Microshops are a great location and Ipswich probably has 10 times the gamers as Felixstowe and a far larger population.”

Mr Frost’s collection includes old games consoles and computers, such as Atari 2600, Sega Mega Drives, PlayStation Ones, Nintendo 64, ZX Spectrum and more.

Blast from the Past is in Ipswich Microshops -- having moved from Beach Street. Picture: Ash Jones
Blast from the Past is in Ipswich Microshops -- having moved from Beach Street. Picture: Ash Jones

However, centre-stage at the arcade is a very rare Race Drivin’ arcade machine, which he restored himself in 2008.

The oldest item in his collection is a TV dating from 1969 with the 1984 Nintendo shooter Duck Hunt ready to play. There are also arcade-style shooters set up on CRT TVs.

He even has a collection of video tapes and a VHS player that customers can enjoy.

Mr Frost rents two pods at the Microshops. Picture: Ash Jones
Mr Frost rents two pods at the Microshops. Picture: Ash Jones

Mr Frost said he wanted to offer the chance for people to just sit, relax and game. He hosts LAN parties, is considering tournaments and even has his first birthday party lined up.

However, there is also another aspect to his work that he enjoys.

“It can be quite therapeutic here,” Mr Frost said. “I find many people just don’t take breaks to just do what they enjoy and I enjoy chatting to people, giving them breathing room. Some may have low self-esteem, confidence issues or problems in their lives. I like to think I help them in some way.”

The arcade hosts parties and events. Picture: Allister Frost
The arcade hosts parties and events. Picture: Allister Frost

Mr Frost told SuffolkNews it had always been a dream to run his own arcade.

He now spends his time between Ipswich and Cambridge, but grew up in Hastings, which had a large arcade which he always wanted to buy.

In addition to offering gaming sessions, Mr Frost occasionally sells some of his collection – and said he was always willing to trade if a customer brings in something unique.

In addition to Blast from the Past, he founded an organisation called Insight in 2019, which worked on mental health campaigns.

He is also converting a double-decker bus with a friend, which he hoped would allow him to take Blast from the Past on the road, to rural villages and schools.

As for the future, he’d like to set up a VR area and old computers to teach youngsters the history of the industry and its evolution.

Mr Frost added: “When I set the business up, I hadn’t run a shop in 30 years, so this feels like going back to my roots.

“Any collector can tell you that some retro games are getting pricey and I want to be able to offer them at an affordable rate.

“If something is memorable, I won’t throw it away, and it’s great that I get to share this with others.”

Customers can pay per session or for a monthly subscription to attend – and the first 100 customers can get theirs for £10 per month.