Following on from our two previous drinks for Resident Evil and Alice Madness Returns, we were working in the office and killing time on the Guardian Gamesblog chatterbox page. The topic turned to what Loading does and people started pitching puns like “Gin and Sonic”, forum member ‘Cunning Stunt’ then mentioned ‘Deus Ex on the Beach’ and with the sequel Human Revolution coming out we got in touch with Square Enix pitching the drink idea as part of the release.
Once we had permission we stayed pretty true to the classic ‘Sex on the Beach’ recipe with Peach Schnapps, Triple Distilled Vodka, Orange and Cranberry juice. This has been augmented with Goldshlager to bring in the iconic Deus Ex: Human Revolution ‘golden shards’.”
25ml Peach Schnapps,
150ml Orange Juice,
50ml Cranberry Juice,
Fill the glass with ice and start by pouring the grenadine, archers and cranberry juice. Next carefully pour the orange juice into the glass so it layers on top of the grenadine/archers/cranberry mix, to finish pour the Goldschlager over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the juice, serve.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an action role-playing video game developed by Eidos Montréal and published worldwide by Square Enix in August 2011. It is the third game in the Deus Ex series and a prequel to the original Deus Ex.
Set in the year 2027, Human Revolution focuses on ex-SWAT officer Adam Jensen, who is employed as a security officer for Sarif Industries, a company on the leading edge of advanced and controversial artificial organs dubbed “augmentations”. An attack on Sarif Industries that apparently kills researcher and Adam’s ex-girlfriend Megan Reed also leaves Adam critically injured. To save him, company CEO David Sarif subjects him to an extensive augmentation procedure: six months later, now recovered and possessing advanced augmentations, Adam sets out to pursue his attackers and the shadowy organization behind them. The story explores themes of transhumanism, the growing power of megacorporations, and their impact on social class.
After word about the bar slowly spread, Capcom got in touch to see if we were interested in creating a drink for one of their franchises. Brainstorming followed, we dismissed the Mega Man-hattan which made a debut years later and Final Sprite 3 was vetoed. After sketching drinks based on common elements in the games (Ink ribbons, herbs, zombies) this led to a bar regular suggesting the T-Virus and after some refinement and testing, the drink concept came together, for our ‘G&T Virus’ we were going to need syringes. A lot of syringes.
25ml Sloe Gin
5ml Blue Curacao
10ml Bombay Saphire
Take a highball glass and fill with ice, start the cocktail by pouring the grenadine into the bottom of the glass, add the sloe gin and stir. Carefully pour the sprite down the side of the glass (this is to help keep the Sloe nicely layered at the bottom) Next take two shot glasses and mix together Blue Curacao and Bombay Saphire in one (T-Virus) and Midori and Gordon’s (Antivirus) in the other. Fill a different syringe with each mix and balance on the glass.
Resident Evil, known in Japan as Biohazard, is a Japanese horror media franchise created by Shinji Mikami and Tokuro Fujiwara and owned by the video game company Capcom. The story follows outbreaks of zombies and other monsters created mainly by the Umbrella Corporation.
The franchise began with the video game Resident Evil, released in 1996. It has grown to encompass numerous sequels of various genres, incorporating elements of action, exploration, and puzzle-solving, and storylines inspired by horror and action films. Resident Evil is Capcom’s best-selling video game franchise, with over 100 million units sold worldwide as of May 2020. The Resident Evil live-action film series is also the highest-grossing film series based on video games.
Street Fighter II was one of the early “Did you know you could do…?” games on the fighting game circuit. While gamers were sucked in by the bright colours and sounds of the arcade machine’s attract screen, they stayed for deceptively deep gameplay. The best fighting games are the ones that take the concept of “rock-paper-scissors” and build layer upon layer on its foundations. Street Fighter’s appeal was you were never outgunned when you lost. You were just outwitted. Learning Street Fighter is just like learning another language — first you pick up basic terms, then you learn to string some sentences together, like a “Down, Down-Forward, Forward + Punch” for a Hadoken. Before long, you can find yourself “speaking Street Fighter” without a moment’s second thought.
Of course, like learning any language, the quickest way to pick it up is to take yourself out of the classroom and put yourself into the native climate. Which is where the arcades come in….
Street Fighter II dominated the 90s arcade scene. DOMINATED. Dominated in such a way that it is hard to articulate to the modern, post-internet, post-mobile phone, 64 player multiplayer online gamer.
It was in the arcade where Street Fighter II went from “very good game” to “culture-defining piece of entertainment”. The arcade served as an incubator to the videogame scene — it was Reddit thread, gaming room and communal hangout all rolled into one. The only bar of entry was a couple of quid to lay down for a game.
Only, you didn’t just lay down for a game in the early arcade scene. Depending on your arcade, approaching someone for a match of SF II was akin to challenging someone to a duel. You’d go up, stick your pound coin down on the side of the machine. *Blam*. A “I got next” message to everyone in the local vicinity. For if the London arcade was a stomping ground for all manner of beasts in the 90s, there were all manner of beast slayers traversing the land trying to put them to the sword.
As for Grendel’s lair? Well apparently, that was housed somewhere in a cab rank in Kings Cross….
Street Fighter always leant itself well for rumours and urban legends. “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance” was a rumour that ran for years before it got revealed as a hoax in an old gaming magazine. For me, there was always one Street Fighter rumour that stuck. The rumour of the cab rank arcade machine…
So the story goes, there was a black cab rank in Kings Cross that housed a Street Fighter II machine throughout the 90s. For ~some reason~, the machine became the meeting point of some of the best SFII players in the city. You’d turn up to the cab rank, play your game and (supposedly) loser paid for their opponents cab ride home.
It’s one of the most interesting Street Fighter II legends I ever heard. Entirely plausible and (you would think), easily provable. So with a smartphone, an old copy of Yellow Pages and a bit of gusto I went about proving it.
My first port of call? Taxi drivers. Such is the wonder of London, your average black cab driver probably has work experience of the city in the 90s; might one of them have any memories of a Street Fighter machine in Kings Cross?
Apparently not. Talking to the black cabbie driver dad of a friend (when you live in East London, finding a cabbie isn’t too hard), their doesn’t appear to be any SFII machines in Kings Cross.
The cabbie that props up the bar in my rugby team? “I’ll ask around. I’ve never heard of it.” No memories either. Searching for a 20 year old videogame machine from people who never played a game outside of Angry Birds was proving slightly tricky.
Next, Reddit and the forums. The Internet Fighting Game community may be one of the most knowledgeable and intimidating subsets of all of gaming, but if you approach you right and pay the correct tithes, you can get what you’re after.
“Sorry I can’t help more but you might want to check with a man called Mark Starkey. I hear he bought up a lot of the game cabs from King’s X.” said one intrepid wanderer on a Reddit thread.
And so, it was onto my final lead — Mark Starkey, longtime London arcade gamer, who’s been on the scene since 1989. Would he be able to solve the taxi cab rumour? Was it real? Or simply schoolboy rumour?
“Unfortunately, your schoolboy rumour was just that”, Mark says.
Defeated. But was there a Grendel’s lair where top Street Fighter II players met?
“Oh absolutely, if you were one of the best of the best, you would head to Casino (that was confusingly the name of the arcade), by London Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus. There was a man, John Sturges who was an official distributor for Capcom arcade board. Everything that came into the arcade came in through him. If anything, he was the grandfather of Street Fighter scene in the UK.”
Also great was the nearby Namco Wonderpark (which closed in 1998 and oddly featured in Channel 4 sci-fi series Ultraviolet, starring Idris Elba). Both arcades would see a lot of tournaments over the period, where top tier players like (Current SFV Guinness World Record holder) Ryan Hart would pop up and hone their skills.
London Trocadero also had some good players as well, and as Mark tells me, gamers would do player similar to a pub crawl, starting in one arcade, and slowly traversing through Central London, late into the night, exchanging battle and beers and smiles with other gamers.
But why track down these arcades? Was it the people who turned up? Did it have a good vibe? Was it just nice to be in the heart of London?
Actually, it’s a combination of all those things, as well as a few tips from old 90s machines.
“Most of these machines were made in the UK and Europe because it was cheaper to make machines in the homeland out of chipboard rather than import steel and plastic over from Japan”, explains Mark. So not only could your version of Street Fighter II vary, so too could the quality of your experience.
“Games were played in 4:3 rather than 16:9 ratio. Back in the analogue era you didn’t have software to process the imagery, so the pictures shone on the screen like lights. People would gravitate to the places that had the best machines for imagery, like SEGA’s big 50 inch cabinet called the Super MegaLo or on a rig called the Electrocoin Duet”. Like the top tier SFV player looking for the best fight sticks, so 90s arcade gamers would track down machines that gave them a better experience, and it was Casino and Wonderpark that held the best machines.
So what about my quest for the taxi rank? Did it ever exist? Well… Maybe.
“I’m not saying the cab rank didn’t exist and that good players never went there. For the most part, you got your arcade kicks wherever you could find them. The first time I completed Street Fighter was in Burger King”, says Mark. “The big arcades around the seaside also got some pretty good players. But for the real real, hardcore, biggest scene? It’s got to be central London arcades. There’s nothing bigger than that.”
So, it appears that the mythical SFII machine in a cab rank is just that. Mythical. At least… unless you, dear reader have any further information for us?