Although my trip to Japan was coming to an end, I managed to squeeze in a visit to one final retro-gaming bar called GameBar A-Button.
(address: Taitou-Ku Taitou 1-13-9)
It looked commutable from my hotel, so I decided to walk there using Google Maps. Halfway there I realised my phone battery was looking ominously low. I was torn between going back or persevering and hoping for the best. As usual, I went for the lazier option and decided to risk it.The walk took about 20 minutes, but as soon as I reached my destination my phone died! This meant I wouldn’t be able to take any photos as I didn’t have a separate camera.
Oh well, I thought to myself, I might as well get a quick drink since I was there.
Pulling on the handle of the entrance door, it didn’t budge. I peered through the window, it was dark inside. It was at this point that I realised that the bar was shut. I debated with myself on whether or not I had got the opening times wrong. I waited for 5 minutes in the hope that they were just about to open but to no avail.
Disappointed in the wasted journey, I went back to my hotel to charge my phone. Surprisingly, despite my incredibly bad sense of direction, I made it back without the use of an online map to guide me.
Returning to the bar a couple of hours later, I was relieved that this time my luck had changed. It seemed that the website opening times were misleading, to say the least.
Walking back and forth numerous times between the hotel and Gamebar was tiring work, so this time I really did need a drink. Unlike the Star Club and The 8-bit Café, there was no cover charge to pay.
I asked what beverages were available but sadly there didn’t appear to be any gaming themed ones, so in the end, I ordered a beer.
Size wise the bar itself was pretty small (even smaller than the Star Club); however, they certainly packed in a lot in the space. Gaming related stuff was everywhere; on the bar, stuck on the walls, on tables, and on the shelves. Busy, chaotic and colourful would be how I would describe it. Luckily I now had a charged phone so I was able to take some photos!
There was some cool hand drawn personalised art on the walls and some gaming books by the bar:
There was quite a lot of anime related stuff as well. On the wall were posters for anime such as Project A-Ko (I remember watching the dubbed version of this from Manga Entertainment on VHS back in the day) and various figurines were dotted around.
This Mario/Sonic/Hello Kitty plush combination was pretty unique!
It was a fun exercise to test my gaming knowledge by trying to identify a system simply by looking at their vintage controller on the wall. The maracas particularly stood out from the controller collage.
On display was a Sega SG-1000, now I am embarrassed to admit I have never even heard of this system before. I looked it up and it is actually the predecessor to the Sega Master System. How cool is that!
The Black and grey console is a system called Cassette Vision, released in the early 80s by Epoch and is apparently comparable to the Atari 2600. Again I had zero awareness of this system beforehand, so I suppose it is always good to learn something new!
In yet a continuation of my embarrassing lack of knowledge, I didn’t know what this orange console was either. After checking online, I discovered it was a Nintendo console called the Colour TV Game 15, which was made in the late 70s and is a predecessor to the NES!
Who knew I can learn so much from a visit to a gaming bar?
I asked the bartender if I could play a few video games, but sadly he was only able to offer me some handheld devices to try out. (I’m presuming they usually allow you to play the regular home consoles on the big screen).
I played a Game and Watch juggling game which was pretty fun, and the Game & Watch Donkey Kong, which was pretty cool also.
On reflection, this bar had its pros and cons. On the downside was; a lack of gaming themed drinks, an inability to play the home consoles (although this might be a bit harsh as I’m sure on most days that these would be available) and that the bar itself was quite small.
On the plus side was that; no cover charge was payable, a greater anime related influence and of course the chance to see some very rare consoles (although only on display rather than playable) such as the predecessors to the NES and the Sega Master System,
Well, I guess that depends on what you are looking for. My personal favourite is still the 8-bit café, just based on the overall atmosphere and the chilled vibe. However, Gamebar A-Button is certainly worth a visit, especially if you are into cosy, colourful, anime-influenced video game bars.
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