Covid is unplugging the beloved Japanese arcade


January 16, 2021, Street Fighter III: Third Strike Championship legend Tominaga made a rare and serious mistake.

In the front to 10 carnage in the final round against Kuni, Kuni is a great Ryu who is also known for precision games. Tominaga’s murderous Makoto teeters Ryu to his own corner. To seize the opportunity to close the book in the white joint hours of performing skills back and forth, Tominaga rushed in and grabbed it, which would ensure victory. But he missed the opportunity within reach of this little karate prodigy, giving Ryu a chance to escape. This is Kuni’s moment: the golden blink of jumping away from the opponent at such a distance means falling on Makoto like a shooting star—however, other Mistake. Kuni pressed the wrong punch button during the descent and messed up his three-set winning combination. Tominiga pursued Kuni and won 10-9.The narrators of this legendary drama, the two are equally well-known Third blow The player himself, turned it out.

Usually Game Newton, a small Tokyo game hall located in Itabashi District, has become a mecca for games Third blow Faithful, it will be applause and cheers to the Americans Street fighter Legendary Justin Huang said Best Portfolio of the Year. But this will not be the case after 2020. Not during the Coronavirus era. When Japan is in a state of emergency for the second time in 12 months, this will not happen, that is, restricting outdoor gatherings and business hours in places such as Game Newton.Unless you streamed on Twitch or watched the recap YouTube, You will be one of the five people who see it.

For small and respected game centers such as Game Newton and Takadanobaba Mikado in Shinjuku, this has become a cold reality.Not only famous for classic arcade games, but also as the core of the scene, such as Third blow Still enjoying after more than 20 years, these are arcade machines where fans of classic arcade competition gather, share knowledge and compete. They are pilgrimage destinations for avid players from all over the world to learn all kinds of competitive games at the highest level. Although many of their games can now be conveniently played online in our homes, Game Newtons and Mikados in the world are the glue that has kept live games alive for decades.

COVID will kill them.

The competitive scene of arcade games is decreasing day by day.As the arcade in the United States successfully transitioned from the meeting place of the mall to the bar of the nostalgic journey, the top competitions of music, rhythm and fighting games have also evolved into online platforms such Landlord Or local gatherings with consoles and monitors. In Japan, professional arcade machines have opened up their own dedicated corners to keep the local scenes of these games alive and serve as a destination for global players to learn from the best. But as the pandemic swallows the population struggling to control it, the sun may eventually fall on important video game culture.

“The saddest thing about arcade closures is that once they disappear, they disappear.” This is according to the American expatriate Andrew Fidelis, who moved to Japan after graduating from university.As an event organizer and anchor, Fidelis is one of the western faces in Japan’s competitive arcade scene, helping to provide game centers such as Game Newton and famous professional players such as Street fighter Icon Umehara Daigo. “The new arcades and new communities are not open,” he told me via email. “In the near future, fighting games in arcades may cease to exist.”

Although the American arcade market still has destinations such as Galloping Ghost near Chicago and Funspot in New Hampshire, most of them have evolved into bars without a competitive atmosphere or chain restaurants like Dave & Buster’s with a large number of ticket games. Japan also has such a place, but many domestic game centers have different reputations.Some local gathering places called Capcom vampire (Dark walker In the West) players. Cave’s other Dodampach crowd. In the heyday of the 1990s, a certain kind of tribalism flourished among arcade fans and their still-existing operators. Think about how we romantically recall the old bicycle bar: these gangs hang out in different places. Occasionally, they will find time to rumble. “Some places are considered home to certain games,” Fidelis said. “You must know where to go.”


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