There are many kinds of gamers – those who play at home, those who practically live in “game centers” (aka arcades), and then there are the people who like to socialize as they button smash, drink in hand. To accommodate the latter is the video game bar, a growing nightlife trend in Japan. Whether your skills are on par with the professionals, or you’re just looking to make a night out a bit more interesting, check out these game bars in Osaka.
Space Station is a staple of this niche Osaka bar scene. It’s packed with both locals and tourists almost every night of the week, so it’s a great place to meet like-minded people from all over the world. Space has 13 consoles, 8 screens, and scores of games ranging from nostalgic NES favorites to the most recent Super Smash Brothers. Space Station is the only game bar in town that doesn’t have a cover charge; you only pay for your drinks, many of which are named after video game characters you love, like the “Floating Peach” and “Gin Sonic.” To find it, just look for the flashing, animated LED staircase at street level, and climb on up!
Continue was the first game bar to open in Osaka. Since then, they’ve leveled up, recently moving to a new location. Continue has countless games, over 40 systems (however, some are for display only), and 13 screens, including a projector. The walls are covered in video game cartridges and memorabilia; taking in the décor could honestly provide enough entertainment for the night. They also have board games and occasionally host DJ events. There is a 500 yen (US$4.70) cover to get in, but after that, you just pay for whatever you order.
GeeBee is relatively new to the scene, but it’s clear they did their research before opening up shop. GeeBee has a diverse mix of retro and modern games and is set up almost like an arcade. It costs 500 yen (US$4.70) per hour to hang in GeeBee, but that price includes all the games you can play, soft drinks you can down, and curry you can eat! Any alcoholic beverage is only 390 yen (US$3.65) on top of that. GeeBee is one of the few video game bars open during the day, so if wielding a controller while wasted isn’t your thing (or day drinking is), you can drop by anytime after 1pm!
Tsuukon no Ichigeki means “critical hit” in Japanese. This bar has a few small screens and one big one to play games on, as well as a number of board games. The interior is fun and funky, with game choices displayed neatly on the walls and pop art themed decor. Also on display are the patrons’ top scores in certain games. Critical Hit has nomihoudai (aka “all you can drink”) plans for guests lasting up to five hours. This is the only bar on the list that has a Ladies’ Night – women get to drink for half price every Wednesday.
Dendo is located in the Misono Building, a place that was once one of the most happening spots in town. While its neon splendor may have somewhat dwindled over the years, it’s still home to some of the most well-known and interesting nightlife spots in Osaka. Despite its small size, Dendo also has a large variety of games, five screens to play them on, and even room to spare for a guest DJ from time to time. This was the second game bar to open in Osaka, which is clear by the community of both regulars and first-timers this spot continues to attract.