Review: Getting Our Game On at Electric Gamebox, Manchester.

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When an email dropped into my inbox inviting us to try out Electric Gamebox I was excited to see what it involved.

Step into the Gamebox and enter a private, fully interactive digital room featuring projection mapping, touch screens, motion tracking and surround sound to enjoy a hyper-immersive 60 minute adventure.

Admittedly, I’d not heard of Electric Gamebox up until this point, but after a quick look at the website I saw that they have sites across the country and also in the US too. A gallery of photos shows both adults and children enjoying their social gaming experience together, whilst wearing some very funky headgear which sealed the deal – we were in! The invitation came at the perfect time for us as Stanley is about to celebrate his 7th birthday so we thought that a family day out to try something new would be an ideal start to his birthday celebrations.

Inside our gamebox

My boys have only recently got into gaming, and due to their ages we introduced them to retro classics such as Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog first. They have now got the gaming bug and have a variety of games under their belt, the current favourite being Minecraft.

The nearest Electric Gamebox site to us is in Manchester situated inside the Arndale Centre. We took the train into the city instead of taking the van to add a bit more excitement into our adventure for the boys. I’d ‘checked in’ to Electric Gamebox the previous evening after receiving a handy email prompt to remind me, this saved time when we arrived on site as all our details were already on the system under our team name – remember to choose yours before you visit!

Alien Apitude Test London ’84

We were now faced with the important task of choosing our game, there are plenty of themes to choose from, some shorter at 30 mins and others the full 60 min duration. We went for Alien Aptitude Test London ’84 which was recommended as a good all rounder and consisted of 4 shorter games making up the full hour. We were also given the option of putting our belongings into a locker as it is not advised that you take bags etc into the box as they are potential trip hazards. However, as we were carrying James’s diabetes kit we took in a small backpack and popped it into a corner out of the way.

It’s 1984, the aliens have taken over Britain, and they’re moving on to the next step of their invasion; grading the humans to see who is worth keeping around. Can you survive the scrutiny of these extraterrestrials as they grade your group from E- to A+? Your team’s teamwork, coordination, memory, and agility will all be tested as you blast blocks, dodge danger, keep up with the cards, and collect all the coins.

Decision made, we were then shown to our gamebox and asked how many of us would be participating in the game. We agreed that only 4 of us would be players and Eli could just join in with the touch screen parts. Each gamebox can accommodate up to 6 people and is totally covid secure. Outside each room is a rack of 80’s style visors with ‘prongy things’ attached [Stanley’s description].

Image Credit: Manchester Evening News

These are high tech motion tracking sensors and allow you to be connected straight into the game. Each visor is a different colour and represents a player within the game, so make sure you remember which colour you are!

Then it was just us in the box, the whole room was lit up with multicoloured projections on all four walls. Before each game starts the instructions and rules are explained on screen.

Our bodies were now the game controllers and we had to move around the gamebox in order to collect coins, hit balls, or dodge objects. It was laugh out loud fun as we played together, sometimes earning high fives and cheers or groans of disappointment from the boys!

The variety of gameplay within Alien Aptitude Test was great for a family, some levels used all four players at once, some swapped players in and out, and others used multiplayer touch screen. All abilities were easily catered for, and Eli had a great time running about wearing his visor (that wasn’t connected – bless!) and trying to catch the objects.

The recommended age for Electric Gamebox participants is 8 years + so all three of my boys were underage at 6, 4 and only 2 years respectively. BUT, I wouldn’t let the age advice put you off if you think your child will enjoy it. James (4) really got the hang of controlling his movements and impressed us all with his Pac-Man skills during one of the levels. And, as I mentioned before Eli had a great time even though technically he wasn’t playing the game…the lights and moving projections kept him happily ‘playing’ alongside us for the duration.

James bossing Pac-Man

Alien Aptitude Test London ’84 also came with a fab 80’s soundtrack which we really enjoyed singing and jumping around to and made the gameplay a lot more relaxed and fun.

Our snazzy headwear

In all honesty we knew we were never going to break any high score records due to the ages of our boys, so we just focused on enjoying time together and having fun. We had an absolute blast!

Watch our reel to see the boys in action!

When our session finished we were asked to turn around towards the back wall camera and smile for a photo. The instructions might have also said to move around a bit too as I’ve since seen some fab GIFs on the website but at the time we had 2 boys moaning that it was over and simultaneously asking if they could play another game in stereo. So like typical parents we missed some of the audio instructions despite our best efforts shushing the kids.

C- Happy with that!

Our 60 minute gaming session seemed to whizz by, proving the old addage ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. Before we knew it a member of the team met us at the door to let us know our overall score and grading. We were led out to watch our photo and stats appear on the score board.

We honestly thought Electric Gamebox was absolutely brilliant fun and we will definitely look to book again when Eli is that little bit older so he can actually play this time. Obviously all children are different, but I would say that if your child is competent on any basic video game at home then they will easily be able to participate from around age 4 with some adult help explaining the instructions.

Some things worth noting before you visit:

  1. Each interactive gamebox has a CCTV system. If you need anything from the staff – just give them a wave!
  2. The rooms all have awesome air con. I was thinking that 5 of us in a small room for an hour on the hottest weekend of the year would be less than ideal – but we had no issues with feeling hot, closed in or anything like that, and just enjoyed ourselves.
  3. The music is awesome! We loved the different 80’s tunes that played during each of our games.
  4. Expect to move A LOT! Yes, this is interactive gaming…you will be shuffling forwards, bobbing up and down and running side to side to play the games projected on the walls. Don’t worry there are different rounds and levels, so you do get a breather between each one but remember to wear suitable footwear!
  5. If you are driving the nearest carpark is a NCP car park. The address is Arndale, High Street, Nicholas Croft, M4 1AZ. We travelled by train and walked in from Manchester Piccadilly train station and it took around 20 minutes at toddler speed.
  6. There are several food outlets within easy walking distance including the Arndale food court.

Prices:

  • 30 min: adult £14 child £9
  • Mon-Fri 60 min: adult £19 child £9
  • Sat/Sun 60 min: adult £24 child £14

So have we tempted you? Book Now

If you have any questions about our experience, pop them into the comments below!

Within current restrictions masks are to be worn at all times up until the point when there is only your group within your gamebox at which point they can be removed so that you can enjoy your gaming experience in comfort.

All images are my own unless credited and must not be reproduced without permission.