Turbo Club Gran Canaria Photos
This article will chronicle my 14-month search to find a long lost arcade game from my childhood.
As many of you already know the Sega R360 is my favorite arcade game ever made. I am also the creator of The Sega R360 and R360Z fan club on Facebook which you can find right here. Feel free to join as we are always looking for new members.
The Sega R360 & R360Z Fan Club On Facebook
The one and only time I have ever seen and played the R360 in my life was at the Skyquest arcade located in the basement of the Skylon Tower in Ontario, Canada. This arcade has gone by a few different names in the past so it may not have been Skyquest in the 1990’s. This R360 is remembered by many locals both on the NY side of the Canadian border. Almost all of my high school classmates remember this game, along with many other people on both sides of the border. Those that have gone on vacation to the Niagara Falls region in the 1990’s and luckily stumbled across this extremely rare arcade game may also remember this specific installation of a R360.
A Sega R360 operating on the island of Gran Canaria, photos taken by Karen Forshaw. It is not believed to be there anymore.
For those that don’t know the R360, its a flight simulator arcade game made by Sega in 1990 and probably started arriving in North America sometime between 1990 and 1992. The game’s cabinet is an eye catching sphere shape, and an attendant is required to operate it as well as a large space to place the machine. It is more like an amusement ride combined with an arcade game. The game most commonly seen inside this cabinet is a modified version of Sega’s G-LOC, though there were a few installations of this machine that used Sega’s Wing War game. The single seat game is controlled by the player, and as the player controls the jet plane on the screen, the cabinet replicates every movement of the jet, including going upside down and every different direction. The cabinet also flips the player upside down immediately upon startup, and has a panic button on the inside that can be used to stop the machine if the player feels sick or disorientated during the game. But beware, using this panic button stops the machine instantly, so if it is pressed while the game is in an upside down position, the player will remain hanging upside down until the attendant pushes a button on the control panel to move the machine back into the upright position.
Youtube video of a working R360 so everyone can see how it works.
The R360 begins its journey at an arcade called Arcadia at the base of the Space Needle in Gatlinburg, TN at the very beginning of the 1990’s. The Space Needle at Gatlinburg is believed to be the first installation of a R360 in the United States. This is where things get interesting…
On the night of July 14th, 1992 (undoubtedly soon after the R360 was installed at the Space Needle) the city of Gatlinburg experienced a tragic fire. This fire is considered to be one of the largest fires in the United States if not the largest. This fire burned down an entire city block which consisted of 12 businesses. The businesses affected by this fire were located directly on the block referred to by the locals as the “Rebel Corner”. This started with the Rebel Corner store and ends with the Space needle and arcade below it. The Rebel corner completely burned down along with many other businesses, including a Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, all the artifacts within, and the entire Ripley’s arcade that was connected to the museum. All of the businesses on this block were interconnected, so you could walk through them through doors, without going outside. This also made the fire spread faster, and throughout all of them. Most of what burned down was considered a total loss, with almost nothing salvagable. While fighting the fire, those firefighters that bravely fought the fire did their best to keep the fire away from the historic Space Needle and by coincidence, the arcade located beneath it where the R360 resided. The efforts of the firefighters kept the Space Needle safe, as well as the R360 and probably some other games as well. The fire was so severe that it took until 1995 or 1996 for the popular tourist block around the Space Needle to be rebuilt.
One of my friends, Tighe Lory, recalls visiting the Space Needle in the early 1990’s. He remembers seeing an article in a gaming magazine for the R360 located at the Space Needle in Gatlinburg before going there. Since he thought the machine looked fun to play and the article said that it was the only R360 in the United states at the time, he went to the arcade to play it. Upon arriving at the arcade, he found out the arcade was closed due to the fire. Fortunately the R360 did not go up in flames.