もしもし! Hello and welcome to part two of my report on retro-gaming in Japan. The first part explored shopping for all of your retro-gaming needs in Japan. If you haven’t had a chance to look at the article yet, please do so. This article looks at all the places where you can sit back, unwind, play games or drink with other fellow gamers. No doubt there are many places I didn’t visit, but in the limited time I had I did manage to visit four bars which are located in Hiroshima, Osaka, and Shinjuku (Tokyo).
8Bit Bar エイトビット 8 bit バー
Mikawa-cho, Naka-ku, B1F 4-12 Yanagibiru Hiroshima Japan
Located in the nightclub district of Hiroshima, this bar has a very 80’s feel as you enter. Besides the LCD televisions at the bar ready for freeplay of Super Famicom or Famicom, you can also select games on the menu provided next to the cocktails and appetisers as well.
There’s plenty of classic 80‘s music and games to be surrounded by. Drinks are a good price as well ($7.00 for a pint of lager) and the service is fantastic!
Space Station 宇宙ステーション
２丁目-１３−３ Nishishinsaibashi Osaka Chuo Ward, Osaka Prefecture 542-0086
This bar was one of the major reasons I visited Osaka. What differentiates this bar from others that I have visited is the American NES and SNES consoles and games. The music played there also varies from Glitch to some IDM, a bit of jPop and of course Chiptune & Game Music.
Of course there are the Famicom and Super Famicoms available for play (that’s a no-brainer), but including the mentioned consoles there is also the current generation consoles too. Patrons love to play a multiplayer game whilst chugging down beers, which was definitely the case for me with Super Bomberman 3 on the Super Famicom.
When you do visit Space Station be sure to have a Hadouken- a shot that I feared to slam because I had to consume it whilst it was lit, but which is actually safe as long as you suck it in quickly with the straw. Oh, and you must yell “Hadouken!” prior to consumption. ;) Service is great and the staff love to talk video games!
Whilst you’re in the area and feeling hungry, I highly recommend you go to TakoTako King which is a few buildings up (on the same street). Just look for the staff yelling at you to come in and eat Osaka’s speciality dish or look for a massive Octopus above a restaurant with a crown on it. If you’re from Australia and feel homesick then there’s the Coolabah bar on the next street over (http://coolabah.jp/). There you can grab yourself a Coopers Pale or Sparkling ale and a home-made Meat Pie or Sausage Roll which taste like a local bakery if not better!
8Bit Cafe エイトビットカフェ
8-9Q Building 5F, Shinjuku 3-Chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Back to Shinjuku and I had to check this place out! I’ll be repeating this a lot in fact, but service in such places are always warm and friendly and 8Bit Cafe is no exception!
At the bar you can chill with a beer whilst listening to glitch, IDM, local jPop or 8bit/game tunes and conversing with the locals about favourite music in games and other geeky chitchat.
Around inside the venue itself you will find couches with all kinds of retro-paraphernalia displayed. Lots of rare and obscure stuff too. Quite a walk up a fair few flights of stairs, but on arrival you’ll be relieved to be able to kick back, relax and surround yourself in what 8-bit culture is all about.
16 Shots Bar
Shinjuku 2-3-8 Technopolis, Tokyo
This was one of the last drinking spots I ventured to before my trip back to Australia and it was an hilarious night! Even though their English wasn’t the best (or so they thought, I thought it was fine) and my Japanese hadn’t improved very much since arriving, the universal concept of drinking together wasn’t something that needed translating!
It is also one of the smallest bars I’ve been to, but it was cosy. I later realised whilst chatting to the patrons that most of them were game developers, music composers and graphic designers for major gaming companies. I won’t say who I chatted to or where they’re from, but all I can say is that it was great to talk about old games only to find out later that some individuals had had their fair share with classic titles like Streets of Rage 2’s soundtrack for example. Once again chiptunes and game music was played throughout the night with loads of happy sighs from folk upon hearing their favourite tune! Loads of different drinks are available and retro-gaming paraphernalia can be found all over the bar, like the Alex Kidd bead design sitting on the shelf next to the alcohol.
The location might be difficult to find using Google Maps so just remember that the Family Mart is on the corner or look at the map above.
So that sums up game-themed bars that I visited whilst in Japan. I don’s have any additional advice to give really, except to follow the owner’s rules (due to licensing laws in Japan): don’t tip anyone, drink responsibly and more importantly have a wonderful time in Japan! I know I have. :)