The arcades of Tokyo have a deserved reputation for both high quality and creativity, but as the gaming industry moves forwards these entertainment centres are slowly starting to slip away, or at least have their retro games upgraded to something newer. The era of classic games is decidedly in the past, and when those arcade games can be yours permanently for a cheap price on newer consoles like the Nintendo Switch, it’s inevitable that some of the arcade buildings will struggle to keep up.
The causes haven’t been given in detail, but it may well be financial issues behind the recent announcement from the stunning Warehouse Kawasaki that the arcade will be closing its doors for the last time this month. Warehouse Kawasaki, also known as ‘Your Warehouse’ is a titanic arcade with five floors, hosting enough entertainment to keep you there for a week. To check out the arcade properly and pay my respects in the form of small individual units of change, I recently took a trip down to the condemned entertainment centre myself.
Although Warehouse could stand alone on the equipment it has on offer, the arcade has a theme running through the building which solidifies its unique identity. From the entrance to the toilets, everything has been modelled after Hong Kong’s notorious Kowloon Walled city; a lawless area which once housed 50,000 people back in the 90’s and had plenty of criminal connections. Old-school games are set against the backdrop of seedy streets and dimly lit posters half ripped from the walls, which makes for a truly excellent setting.
Standing at the front entrance and looking up at the gigantic tower block is hardly a welcoming experience, not helped by the fact a few of the neon letters that spell out the arcade’s name seem to have failed to flicker into life. AS the rust styled automatic doors swung with a hiss of steam there were even some screams from the other patrons.
Once you make your way through the narrow streets on the first floor and take the escalator up, you’ll find an odd mix of more recent favourite like Taiko Master and Time Crisis alongside inclusions like the 1987 hit Darius, played as originally intended across three screens. Stretching out on the opposite side to the stylised and rather rare arcade machines are rows upon rows of more modern machines, and it’s a sad but accurate estimate to say that if I started playing them each night the arcade would be finished before I was.
Floor two has some dazzling gambling machines, but I was drawn more to the side scrolling shooter machines, next to which were titles like Puzzle Bobble and Q*bert, games I didn’t think I’d have the chance to play physical copies of. Playing the colour matching game Puzzle Bobble against a friend with colour blindness was also a great ego boost.
Floor four is home to the non-console games like darts and pool, with about ten pool tables or something ridiculous available. Up on the 5th and final floor is the internet café style area.
When I say Warehouse Kawasaki will be closing soon, I mean it. The last date Warehouse will be in operation is November 17th. It’s certainly disappointing to see the building shutting down, not just because it reminds me of the decline of arcades but also because of the amount of creativity and effort poured into the place. Play a few more rounds of Tekken there while you can, and keep an eye online to see if any of those arcade machines turn up cheap on amazon.
Source: Warehouse Kawasaki Photocredit (all photos used): David Zinsmeyer