Like video rental stores, arcades have endured their fall from glory, many forced to close shop entirely in an era when video games can be played on tiny smartphone. But in Tokyo, video game arcades are continuously preserved, and gracefully infused with new technology — creating a spirited subculture that begs to be explored.
Here are seven Tokyo arcades you should check out while in the city.
Club SEGA, one of the remaining arcade chains, actually has several different locations around Tokyo. But, if you want to experience the biggest and best, head to the Shinjuku location, which boasts over 200 machines. As one of the most popular places to game, visitors can take advantage of opportunities like the chance to play unreleased trial games, as well as old staples like Street Fighter and Tekken.
Located in the bustling Akihabara district, which is home to many other arcades, Super Potato is tucked away inside a building covered in Mario decor, and is spread across three floors. This arcade is filled with classic Nintendo games like Super Mario, 007 Golden Eye, and the Legend of Zelda, making this stop a nostalgic trip down a digital memory lane.
Smaller than most arcades on the list, Natusuge Museum features a cozy, relaxing vibe in the middle of the busy city center. Gamers cram into the small quarters, squeezing onto small blue stools to grab some screen time while obscure memorabilia and merchandise glows behind glass casing and hangs from the walls.
Try Amusement Tower
In addition to being one of the oldest arcades in the city, Try Amusement Tower is also one of the largest Tokyo has to offer. Spanning six floors, this arcade is a gamer’s heaven, seemingly stocked with everything a gamer would want: UFO catchers, pachinko machines, and music-themed games.
Game Bar A-Button
A change of pace from the shiny, tech-centric sprawls of other arcades, Game Bar A-Button is much more subtle. This locale blends a laidback hangout spot with video games, and also serves as a unique spot to grab a drink on the weekend while indulging in some friendly digital battles.
Hirose Entertainment Yard (aka Taito HEY)
Nestled into a skyscraping block of Tokyo’s Taito ward, Akihabara Taito HEY is a wonderland of gaming — authentically smoky (you can still smoke inside many establishments in Tokyo) and perfectly neon. Like many arcades found in the city, the floors are designated for different types of games — one for shooting, another for fighting, and so on. On the other hand, for less combative folks, more playful games like Puzzle Bubble and Tetris are available, too.
Tokyo Leisure Land
Located across the street from a stop on the Rinkai subway line (disembark at Odaiba-Kaihinkōen Station), Tokyo Leisure Land is an attraction to add to your itinerary. If you’re traveling with someone who is not as interested in gaming as you, this is the spot. Open 24 hours a day, there are batting cages, bowling alleys, and even karaoke in this half-arcade, half-amusement park that’s sure to keep everyone smiling.