For anyone who grew up in the early to mid-1990s, the exciting world of the arcades was the place to go to see the latest and greatest in gaming. Whether it was the bright lights and noise or the adrenaline-pumping action on offer, young adolescents were drawn in like moths to a flame looking to play the latest titles.
Although arcades in the West quickly declined through the 2000s with the emergence of home consoles, the modern Japanese arcade center simply evolved and remains a fixture of many cities across Japan. If the 1990s was dominated by major advances in 3D graphics and immersive multiplayer cabinets, in Japan you’re now more likely to see UFO catchers, rhythm games, Purikura (sticker photo booths) or trading card games—complete with manga/anime-inspired visuals—as the main draw for the modern visitor.
Nowhere is this more true than in Tokyo’s Akihabara, with GiGO (operator of Sega’s former amusement division) one of the dominant brands here. It’s at GiGO Akihabara Building 3 where you’ll find RETRO:G — a floor dedicated to bringing back the fuzzy nostalgic feeling of arcade gaming like during the industry’s 1990s heyday (at least from the perspective of a Western reader).
Find dozens of coin-operated cabinets, including Daytona USA 2 and The House of the Dead (1, 2 and 3), waiting for you to relive your childhood (presumably with more than just a few coins that the pocket money may have limited to you back then!).
As well as a host of Sega titles on offer (particularly racers like OutRun, Manx TT, Sega Touring Car, Virtua Racing & Scud Race), you’ll also find flagship titles from other publishers.
Classics like SUPER STEET FIGHTER Ⅱ X (1994, Capcom, running on Sega Astro City) and Time Crisis 2 (1998, Namco) are also available.
RETRO:G should appeal to those who fondly remember the 80s too, with original working cabinets for Sega’s acclaimed rails shooters like Space Harrier (1985) and After Burner (1987), the latter originally released in the year after Top Gun with its inspiration clearly evident. Many may recall the 1986 classic, Outrun, which allowed you to get behind the wheel as iconic BGMs like Magical Sound Shower blared out of the speakers.
Don’t forget the tabletop version of Donkey Kong (1981 / Nintendo) which also features the very first appearance of Super Mario (then known as Jumpman) — try it for yourself at RETRO:G.
Even the less ardent (or skilled) gamer should still enjoy the chance to walk down memory lane by visiting the sixth floor of GiGO Akihabara Building 3 — just think of RETRO:G as a museum with free entry that should have at least something for everyone. With most games costing between ¥100-¥200 to play, it’s easy to spend an hour or so here.
RETRO:G is also an essential stop for any retro gaming aficionado, being so close to many of Akiba’s retro gaming shops (like Super Potato). If you are thinking of visiting Akihabara for a retro and rare slice of gaming, consider RETRO:G the quintessential stop on your itinerary.