Missing the point at 8-bit Cafe

I struck another item off my list of “things to do before I leave Japan” last week. With less than a month to go before I catch a plane headed for home, I finally decided to make the time to check out the 8-Bit Cafe in Shinjuku with a few friends.

Of course, getting there meant navigating Shinjuku, the very definition of inpenetrable concrete jungle, where almost anything worthwhile is tucked away on the fourth floor of some building you’ve never heard of. Case in point, the 8-bit is on the 5th floor of the Shinjuku Q Building, which looks like pretty much every Shinjuku building ever. Thankfully, God had the foresight to invent Google Maps, which made the going considerably easier. I found the place without a hitch, and walked in to find this:

Sorry about the lighting. As I’ve said before, my cell phone camera is awful. In case you’re wondering, those two shadowy objects are a Famicom and the original Mobile Suit Gundam’s Big Zam. Looking around, I also saw the Zeta Gundam peering out from a display case, and Char playing patron saint over the bar. What can I say, I know that I’m missing the point, but I notice this stuff. But in case you were wondering, there was a lot of nifty gaming memorabilia too. Unfortunately, the only thing that sticks out in my mind is a huge hunk of plastic purporting to be a portable gaming system. I wish I had gotten a picture, because none of us recognized it. And the thing was like a brick too.

Sadly, we didn’t make it to the Famicom/Super Famicom duo set up in the corner either, which probably means that we missed the point of going to 8-Bit in the first place. But as we walked out, I couldn’t help noticing that Mother was sitting on top of the pile. I’ve gotta know, is there anybody out there who would really hole up in a bar and play a 10-hour RPG? Who has the patience for that kind of thing? Actually, what am I talking about? This a retro gaming bar. Of course somebody beat Mother while on the premises. They wouldn’t have been able to stop themselves.

For our part, we ended up passing a pleasant evening over drinks, occasionally pausing to oggle the memorabilia. It was small, but it seemed like a mansion compared to 16 Shots, which felt like a closet. It had more memorabilia too. We only ended up staying for a couple hours, but now that I know the way, I think I might return before heading back to the States. I like the atmosphere, and besides, I still have to beat Mother.

7 thoughts on “Missing the point at 8-bit Cafe

  1. Some friends and I were closing out my month long Tokyo trip at the 8-bit Cafe last Wednesday night. I may have even been the one to pull Mother out onto the top of the pile–none of us played it though. ;)

    I wonder if we were in at the same time. You didn’t happen to find any business cards from http://pixel-portraits.com/ laying around did you?

    Oh and that hulking portable system was the Game Axe which plays original Famicom games. The batteries were dead but I was able to get Super Mario Bros. running using the AC adaptor from the Famicom 2 they had set up next to the Super Famicom.

    If you go back be sure to try a Dr. Mario: it’s Dr. Pepper and vodka (maybe another hard liquor) served in a beaker with a vial of gummy pills on the side. 8-bit Café was easily my favorite bar in Tokyo.

  2. Game Axe huh… Cool. Anyway, I went… last Thursday. So I’m afraid I missed you.

    And I’ll be sure to give the Dr. Mario a try. I had a Princess Peach before.

  3. Have you ever checked out the Zeon Bar in Akihabara? Yet another tiny dark hole in the wall (well, hole in the fourth floor really), but they have a pretty fun drink menu. I think I got a Zok that tasted like a liquid alcoholic Toosie Roll… My wife got a Hi-Zack that was bright purple.

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