After a day taking in the scenic views of Arashiyama it was back to the busy area of Namba in Osaka, grabbing a Mos Burger en route in Namba Walk as fuel for dinner, before heading back to the apartment to just rest and chill out before hitting back into the city on a Friday (might have been Saturday) night.
My friend had found a cool sounding gaming bar, Space Station Bar, which we decided was definitely worth investigating and dropping by for a couple of drinks at least. The bar itself was in Dotonbori only about 10 minutes walk away from the apartment in Namba.
It didn’t take long to find it, a small entrance up some neon lit stairs into the bar above. Walking in revealed a small, very, very, very crowded bar, so crowded that initially it was practically impossible to move from the spot at the top of the stairs!
The bar itself is really a gaijin (foreigner) bar, mostly full of expats, it’s run by an American who is quite a cool guy, he found use when we walked in and went through the brilliant list of video game themed cocktails available. I can’t remember what my first cocktail was, it could have been a Floating Peech, either way it tasted refreshing!
Regular beer etc was available as well, but for me it was all about getting through that cocktail list! The prices were also pretty good, 700 yen for a cocktail (£5.30ish), which really isn’t that different to what you pay in London. You could drink for cheaper in other bars in Osaka, but when you also weigh up that here there was no cover charge (a lot of bars in Japan charge an hourly cover charge as well as the drink cost), and there was no fee for playing any of the games or consoles, that 700 yen per cocktail is actually pretty great value!
A couple of groups then left the bar to head onto other drinking places, leaving room to move and access to the consoles! In the immediate area to where I was standing was a Famicon, NES and PS4, with the N64 to the side currently in use. Consoles like the PS4 had a crazy amount of games loaded on the hdd, while the likes of the NES and Famicon had rows of cartridges packed along the bar, with you being free to pick and play any game at any time (assuming someone wasn’t on the console obviously).
The whole bar was decked out in cool lighting combos, and everyone in the bar was into games of pretty much all genres, and retro and modern. Everywhere you turned there were games, controllers and screens, the walls had loads of game themed memorabilia and posters, even the restroom had video game posters and stickers all over the walls. The whole place was just brilliant!
As the night went on I continued to make my way through the cocktail list, most definitely having an Echo the Dolphin, Gin and Sonic, and a Chun Li, after that there were a few more but I can’t remember which ones! Aside from the Gin and Sonic, which had ice, gin (presumably), tonic water (I assume) and something blue, I can’t really tell you what was in them. but they did all go down well, great drinks!
Toward the back was a large screen surrounded by Tetris lamps and other games, which for the whole night was playing host to matches of Smash. Not having much Smash experience I opted to hang out at the bar, chatting to a few random people about games, and then of course ended up joining matches on various consoles.
I did reasonably well on Street Fighter 2 on the SNES, I was an expert back in the day but have got a bit rusty! I held off most, but there was one guy who had just insane skills on Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat! There was a co-op attempt at Golden Axe 2 on the Megadrive, and to my joy there was even a Dreamcast! One of my favourite consoles!
Soul Calibur was picked out and the challenge issued! Again I used to be an expert at this back in the day, but a comination of not having played it in over 5 years, and having had lots of cocktails, remembering the moves and combos was somewhat tricky, so in the end both sides resorted to button mashing and matches went both ways. Annoyingly later the next morning I remembered some of the combos and moves, if there was a rematch I would definitely win all matches!
As the place emptied out near closing time the gaming would down and phased into just talking over drinks, I got talking to the lady at the bar who it turns out had also done the same workaway program that I’d done last year, she then encouraged me to continue to find a way to go work in Japan. Then I chatted more with one of the people I’d been playing against and he turned out to be a coder, so that was pretty cool as well. So after heading out for a couple of drinks, the place was that good with that many games we ended up staying till the place cleared out!
If you go to Osaka, you have to check this place out!