Post-TGS 2009: This is Why I Miss Having Arcades Around
Jones and I encountered Garnett Lee, formerly of 1UP and now of GameFly, while shopping at Mandarake in Shibuya. Garnett suggested that I visit the larger Nakano Broadway complex in the Nakano district of Tokyo. It's just west of Shinjuku, where we were staying, yet I had never been there before.
Honestly, I was pretty worn out on otaku culture by the time I made it to Nakano Broadway, so it wasn't as much of a thrill as I thought it would be. I was charmed, however, to run across a tiny arcade in the building filled with head-to-head fighting machines old and new. The vintage machines were getting all the attention that day, as they were holding a big tournament on some Neo-Geo game whose name I couldn't make out. (Anyone who can identify the game from the videos below wins a million Crispy points!)
This video gives you an idea of the setup—two competitors sit down at the machine (this guy's opponent was on the other side) and duke it out in a best-of-three match. There was a little TV atop the bank of machines to mirror the action for a surprisingly large crowd.
My favorite element of the whole production was the play-by-play guy. He could really get the crowd going, as seen in this clip. And after each match, there would be a scramble to pencil the result into the raggedy tournament bracket because it apparently needed to be updated as soon as humanly possible.