Destination Paradise: Arcade fun in Tokyo's Akihabara
Akihabara is the greatest place in the world to me. They call it the nerd capitol of the world. Anime stores line the streets as far as the eye can see. But I don’t care about that. For me, Akihabara is all about the arcades.
I’m 32 years old so I grew up in the 90’s. Between the ages of 10 and 18, if I had my way, I’d be at an arcade somewhere putting my quarter up on the dashboard of a street fighter arcade box. That’s how you call next.
The arcade was my sanctuary and my dojo. Sure, I could play Street Fighter 2 or Mortal Kombat at home, but I couldn’t find a decent opponent in my little brother. He was a button masher. And I couldn’t study the players that were better than me.
After the 90’s, the arcade scene died in America. Gamers migrated to online shooters and World of Warcraft. But I still remember all the combos in Killer Instinct and the number of frames of animation in a dragon punch.
There is no place for that part of me in the States. Not anymore. But the arcades in Akihabara are 10 stories high and thriving. There’s one on every corner. Street Fighter IV machines fill entire floors, and they’re all linked so you do battle any one of the other 100 players in the room. There are no children in the rooms with the fighting games. It’s considered grown folks business. I nearly wept the first time I saw it.
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