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Vayseth's Voyage: Japanese Game Bars

Vayseth's Voyage is an article series written by The Big House 5's Wii U Head TO Vayseth straight from Japan. Every week, he will be bringing you articles on various topics regarding the Japanese Smash Community. Bringing Smash Communities around the world closer and closer together with every article!

Previous Articles:
Vayseth's Voyage: Japan's Top 3 Wii U Tournament Series
Vayseth's Voyage: KARISUMA 6 Results and Review
Vayseth's Voyage: SUMABATO 9 Results and Review

Panorama view of the counter of Game Bar @CROSS-UP located in Umeda (northern Osaka)

Many gamers in the west are extremely jealous of Japan's ever-active arcade scene. Arcades are the perfect training grounds for competitive gamers to test their skills against a variety of opponents and match ups. With a high-speed internet connection, console releases can simulate a competitive arcade experience from the comfort of your own home. However, input lag, server downtimes, dropped connections, rage quitting, and more can sour the experience and most competitive gamers prefer a face-to-face opponent, where all of the outside interference is eliminated and players can focus on their gameplay. Players of games without an arcade release are normally forced to wait until an opportune tournament to play against offline competition but, lately in Japan, game bars have been giving new life to communities without an arcade scene.

@KYAMEI, head tournament organizer of KVOxTSB2016, currently owns and operates Game Cafe Bar @CROSS-UP located in Umeda, the northern district of Osaka city. The main attraction is Street Fighter V, a usual staple in the Japanese arcade scene now strangely without an arcade release. The other two most popular games are Pokken, which meets every Tuesday for friendlies, and Smash Bros., which has monthly tournaments on select weekends. I was lucky enough to attend March's Smash 4 monthly and get my first experience with a Japanese game bar.

The tournament, run by @SHIG | 9B, was held on Sunday March 27th and was capped at 20 entrants due to the size limitations of the venue. Kyamei's heavy FGC influences and 9B's heavy Smash Community influences brought together a wide spectrum of players including top Kansai Smashers such as @Komorikiri, @HIKARU and @Atelier and Marvel vs Capcom 3 fan favorite @MameSpider. The finals came down to Komorikiri's Sonic and HIKARU's Donkey Kong, with Komorikiri taking it 3-0. The entire set was incredible - including a super clutch down B meteor kill by HIKARU in Game 2 - but HIKARU was unable to take a second stock in any of their games.

Group shot of many of the Smash 4 tournament competitors and TOs after the tournament concluded.

The secret to the success of the thriving arcade scene in Japan may be rooted in Japanese culture. In general, going over to someone's home to casually play games in Japan is something that is rarely done. Homes are smaller, inconvenient for long periods of gaming, and there are cultural obligations such as bringing a wrapped gift for the host. Going to a neutral location such as an arcade, cafe or bar solves this issue, and that is one of the many reasons those type of businesses thrive in Japan. More and more console-exclusive games with large communities are struggling to find a location to build their local scene. Game Bars may be the answer not only in Japan but also around the world.

For anyone living in or visiting Japan I highly recommend checking out @CROSS-UP. There is a 500 yen (~$4.60) seating charge in addition to your first drink or food order when you arrive. After one hour each additional hour requires another 500 yen seating charge OR an additional food or drink order. As opposed to arcades where there is a charge of 100 yen per play, Game Bars offer unlimited play for an hour for only 500 yen. You are less likely to suddenly find yourself with an empty wallet after hours of gaming at that rate! Tournaments are held during non-business hours and have an all-inclusive rate which covers the entire tournament. I have included pictures of their menus and a map below for all those interested in joining me at a Pokken weekly on Tuesdays!

For all of those not in Japan, would a Game Bar work in your country? Would you go to a Game Bar if one was available in your region? Sound off in the comments!

Sayonara until next week.

Access Map | Drink Menu | Food Menu


Personally, i'd love to have a game bar near where I live! Fortunately i'm in a part of the UK which is blessed with a lot of local Weekly and Monthly tournaments. I had thought to myself that if I ever wanted to start my own business, it'd be something like this. Not sure if it would work in the UK though......
We had a game bar back in my country. Unfortunately, it didn't work out well. The inside of the foodstands were crawling with cockroaches and the clients and even employees themselves had a tendency to steal equipment from there so it ended getting closed. God, I really hate how crappy we are back home, we complain about first world countries having the good stuff but as citizens we don't make an effort at bettering ourselves and our country. We get something nice, then people ****ing steal from it. Do you know here in Japan there are vending machines in about every corner of a town or city? It's a pretty neat detail. Of course, I assure you that if they implemented that in my country it wouldn't last a couple of days without the beverages, the change and the freakin' machine parts getting stolen and vandalized. Sorry for the mini rant.
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This is a neat idea and I've thought of opening something similar here in the states. Do you think it would actually work in the US though?

Also what kind of venue does Sumabato operate in? Is it like a Xanadu or another kind of game store? Or is it in someone's house?
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This is a neat idea and I've thought of opening something similar here in the states. Do you think it would actually work in the US though?

Also what kind of venue does Sumabato operate in? Is it like a Xanadu or another kind of game store? Or is it in someone's house?
Possibly! I am not sure. The real test would be coming up with a plan so you can stay in business but is reasonable enough for people to attend regularly.

Check my post about Sumabato. I have a panorama of the venue.
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