There are lots of things to love about living in Tokyo. The food is unbelievable, the sights are gorgeous, and there is always something interesting going on. Above all, though, you have to appreciate the thriving gaming culture that Tokyo celebrates. Everything from old school to the next-gen games are incredibly popular, and have had a fairly large impact on Tokyo culture—and that’s just one of the reasons why Tokyo is a gamer’s paradise. Here are the rest:
1. Old school gaming is alive and well
Back in the day when Nintendo was king, nearly all of the good video games came from Japan. Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Mega Man, to name a few, were all personal favorites that I’d love to play again. Sure, I can get all of these games via the Nintendo 3DS’s Virtual Console, but in Tokyo, I can find the original cartridges and play them on their original consoles, just like God intended. The Akihabara district has numerous stores where you can pick up some old school consoles and games, although the best of the lot is, in my opinion, Super Potato. Definitely stop by if you’re in the neighborhood, and treat yourself to some good-old-fashioned nostalgia.
2. Thriving arcades
Arcades may be a thing of the past in the west, but Tokyo has found new ways to keep them alive and well. Tokyo is full of arcades that range from small basements with a few machines, to massive seven story arcades with every game imaginable. They have enough games that each floor is dedicated to a different type of machine, and if you go to the right arcades (Shinjuku Taito, for instance), you can sometimes catch a glimpse of some fighting game superstars in action. The arcades, with their peripherals, offer an experience you just can’t get in your home, including Gundam suit simulators and shooters with interactive elements. With the work that is being done with the Oculus Rift in Japan, the arcades here in Tokyo look like they will have a bright future.
3. Video game themed bars
Arcades too childish for you? Why not hit up one of the many video game themed bars? The Shinjuku and Akihabara districts have numerous bars where you can get both your drink and your game on. Head on over to the 8-bit Bar or Game Bar A Button to relive your childhood favorites, only this time, drunk.
4. Video game collectibles
I’ve never been big on memorabilia or video game collectibles, but I can’t help but appreciate some of the toys that come out of Japan. Tokyo has heaps of stores that focus entirely on video game collectibles like Mario figurines, Pikachu dolls, and all the Mobile Suit Gundam figurines you could ever want. If you love a certain game, and want to collect its memorabilia, Tokyo is the place to do it.
5. Characters invade reality
As I mentioned earlier, gaming has become a big part of the culture in Japan. So much so that characters have started to make their way into the streets of Tokyo. Cosplay has become normal enough for Japan, but giant statues have been known to pop up throughout the city, virtually overnight, to either promote or celebrate games. Just the other day, an enormous ten by seven meter statue of Luffy fighting Goku appeared in Shibuya to promote the upcoming J-Stars Victory Vs. And let’s not forget the humungous Gundam in front of the Gundam museum. These kinds of random promotions make it fun and exciting for gamers to live in this city.
6. Tokyo gets all the cool events
Sure, everyone knows that Tokyo gets a lot of great game shows throughout the year, but what I’m talking about are the collaborations and events that seem to happen every day. Every single day, I see that a convenience store is collaborating with an MMORPG, or that a popular 3DS game is hosting a two month long event in Tokyo Station. There is always something going on which makes gaming in Tokyo all the more exciting.