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Valei’s Tekken Adventure – Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul – 2016

In June I spent roughly a month in Asia sightseeing, eating delicious food, and of course playing tons of Tekken 7! Being the Tekken fan that I am, I made it a top priority to visit as many Tekken arcades as I possibly could while there. In this article I will share some pictures and videos from my Tekken adventure!

Starting in Tokyo my first stop was:

Namco Sugamo Tokyo

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Address: Japan, 〒170-0002 Tōkyō-to, Toshima-ku, 豊島区Sugamo, 1 Chome−15−1, MIYATA BLDG

Located just outside Sugamo station in Tokyo, Namco Sugamo is home to 1 of the 2 Official Tekken Museums. With just 2 floors, this arcade is a bit on the small side by Japanese standards. However,  more than 50% of the basement floor is dedicated to Tekken. I managed to come here twice while in Tokyo; once on a weekday and again on the weekend. Weekends are packed beyond capacity while weekdays are a bit slow but never empty.

I made a quick video to show you guys this arcade.

Namco Sugamo Tekken Museum – 2016

Valei visits the Namco Sugamo Tekken Museum.

In addition to the awesome Museum, Namco Sugamo was the only arcade I found that sold Tekken­ themed Banapassport cards.

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Swag!

Banapassports allow you to save and load your stats between different arcades in both Japan and Korea.  Card designs are limited, so if you find them make sure you pick them up while you can!

Despite using the Banapassport I was not able to figure out how to use Tekken-Net to spend my fight money…  (If any of you readers know how to properly use Tekken Net features please let me know.)

After playing in the first Tekken Museum I was determined to find the second one:

Namco Nipponbashi Osaka

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Address:  Japan, 〒556-0011 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Naniwa-ku, Nanbanaka, 2 Chome−2−1−17

Located in Osaka, this arcade/museum was much bigger in comparison to Sugamo. I believe this Tekken museum was actually created first (correct me if I’m wrong). Namco Nipponbashi had 3 floors with Tekken 7 taking up the majority of the second floor.

Here is a video of the second museum.

Namco Nipponbashi Tekken Museum – 2016

Valei visits the Namco Nipponbashi Tekken Museum!

In addition to the Tekken Museums, I was also able to find Tekken 7 in many other arcades in Japan including Round 1, Taito Station, and Club Sega.

Playing in these arcades was an awesome experience. The last time I played Tekken in a traditional arcade was when Tekken 5 was released in the states. Playing in an arcade just has a completely different feeling than playing at home on console. Paying for each individual game makes you really not want to lose. When you don’t want to lose you are guaranteed to learn from your mistakes quicker. Overall, I had a great time playing Tekken while in Japan.

As my time in Japan came to an end it was time to travel to South Korea. Shortly after arriving I noticed that Korea had fewer game arcades. This did not stop me from finding places to play Tekken though.

My Tekken adventure continued in Seoul, South Korea:

Green Game Land (그린개임랜드) AKA Green Arcade

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Address: 356-4 Daerim-dong Yeongdeungpo-gu Seoul

Heralded as a Tekken Mecca where Korea’s most notable players (Knee, Saint, Help Me, etc.) learned the ropes, Green Arcade was number 1 on my arcade list for Seoul. Upon arriving I soon noticed that Green Arcade is primarily a Tekken arcade with over 24 machines and a few music games. Green Arcade is also a noticeably cheaper arcade with games being 300 won a play (that’s roughly the equivalent to 30 cents a game).

Here is a video of the arcade.

Green Arcade – 2016

Valei visits Green Arcade!

One particular thing that I loved about Green Arcade was the motherly attendant known as Green Mom.

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Green Mom raising champions!

I’m not sure whether or not she is the owner or just someone that works there but she took care of me from the moment I stepped into the arcade. As soon as she saw me she ran over, took my hand, and led me to one of the change dispensers. She sat me down at the nearest open station, put my money in for me, gave me a “thumbs up” and threw me to the sharks! (Servisu!)  After a few games she brought over some complimentary iced coffee to keep my energy up and sodium levels down (Servisu, Servisu!). I came back a few days later and she must have remembered my struggle with the Korean stick because this time she moved me to the opposite side with a Japanese style stick

(Side Note:  I’m actually a pad player.  My movement on either stick is not the greatest but if I have a choice I’ll always choose J-stick.  Locating diagonals on J-stick is much easier for me.   Although from what I’ve read online K-stick is supposedly the superior option.  I’ll have to find a K-stick to practice on before my next trip to Korea.)

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You win this time K-Stick!

The atmosphere in Green Arcade was awesome. It didn’t have the flashiness or endless number of floors like the Japanese arcades, but it was definitely the most comfortable place to play a long session of Tekken.

I played Tekken at a few other arcades in Korea that were attached to movie theaters but non of them compared to Green Arcade.

Various other observations:

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Prices: When it comes to price, Korea is definitely the more affordable country. Prices range from 300 won (roughly 30 cents) to 500 won (roughly 50 cents). That’s around 2 or 3 plays per US dollar.  Japan’s prices on the other hand were almost always 100 yen (Roughly 1 dollar – Ouch!) per play.  Round 1 arcades sometimes would have nights where it was 2 plays for 100 yen. When it comes down to price, it is more forgiving to lose in Korea.

Accessibility: When it comes to finding places to play Tekken, Japan definitely has more arcades.  Arcades are everywhere in Tokyo and Osaka, and nearly all of them carry multiple Tekken cabinets. Korea does not have as many arcades, and some of the ones that do have Tekken will only have 2 or 4 cabinets.

Competition: When you hop on to play with your Banapassport you are started at the lowest rank. As you rank up, you will be matched with players of the same rank and skill level. Both countries have had good players in the lower ranks. However, I feel that I lost way more in Korea than I did in Japan.  I felt like the Korean scene was far more cutthroat than the Japanese scene. I didn’t see any 10 strings or silly gimmicks. I saw more accurate punishment from the Koreans as well. Both countries are amazing but I feel that Korea is more likely to break you down and build you back up.

Hospitality and Comfort: The Japanese arcades, while more accessible, all allowed smoking (which I wasn’t all that comfortable with). I came out of every Japanese arcade smelling like an ashtray. Korea on the other hand didn’t seem to allow smoking. Also, Korea has Green Mom and that’s almost impossible to top.

Final thoughts:

Playing Tekken in Japan and Korea was an extremely fun experience.  It was also refreshing to see that arcades and fighting games are still alive in these countries. Arcade fighting games still have their place in Japan and Korea. Initially I was upset to see that Tekken 7 was being delayed in America, but after playing in the arcades and seeing how often these games are played, I now understand why the console version needs to be delayed. For one, it doesn’t seem like the game is entirely complete yet and two, the owners of these arcades are running a business; the longer Tekken is exclusive to the arcades, the longer both parties will continue to profit.  Last year select Dave and Busters locations in the US did have Tekken 7 machines for a limited time. I don’t know why they were removed, but I would have to believe it was due to low profits or some contractual agreement. Either way, it is sad for us in the US. In the end we have to wait, but after this trip I am confident that the wait will be well worth it. Fated Retribution is looking amazing (Even with that stinky Akuma guy in it).  and with over a year of testing on the vanilla version, I have high hopes that when we do finally get to play the game on console it will be damn near perfect. Anyway, those are my thoughts. Hope you guys enjoyed the write up and the videos. Post up your thoughts here, on Facebook, or Twitter. Hopefully I’ll meet some of you at EVO in FR pools! Later guys!

 

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Juan Valei

Buffalo-based gamer, artist, and adventurer. Blogging about life, games, art, entertainment, health, and everything else in the universe.

3 Comments

  1. Glad to see that you enjoyed your stay in SEA. I wish there was a Tekken TCG/CCG. That’s what I first thought those cards in the display case were. You should’ve challenged Green Mom to a 1v1 in Tekken, LOL. I think the Japanese cards look cooler but the Korean ones seem healthier because you’re not destroying your retinas with the dark environment but good lighting to prevent degradation of eye health when it’s already getting pretty bad from staring at the arcade screen for so long. Personally I wouldn’t attend an arcade in Korea but rather a Go club/salon or class and I hope they have the same amount of warmth and hospitality. The chess club I normally attend here in the US is pretty cold to most people because everyone is too focused on playing their games. It’s almost better playing for free at the park with those old grandpas than paying for a professional chess club since there’s some pretty strong unrated players out there, plus they are usually more engaging and you get more fresh air (is that possible in NYC?). Too bad Go isn’t more popular in the US otherwise I wouldn’t have had to convert to inferior chess in order to get games. Trying to get a rated game of Go in the U.S. is akin to rank 1 Challenger in League of Legends trying to find a decent game in queue. Rarely ever gonna find one. I think the highest rated American player in the U.S. right now is like worse than juniors in Korea who play professionally, LOL. Also there’s only one non-Asian person in history to ever achieve the highest rank in Go. RIP Western presence. Anyway, Koreans are the best at every game

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