FF 0

With well over 20 years since the original Final Fantasy was released, everyone who was old enough to enjoy developer Square Enix’s hugely successful video game franchise from the very start is legally old enough to drink in Japan. So when we heard tale of a realm/café run by the company, called Artnia, where we could combine our passions for role-playing games and alcoholic beverages, we were intrigued, and when rumors reached us of chocolate buster swords, we were out the door.

Our journey took us through pitch black tunnels, subterranean cities, and secluded forests, but we persevered, and have returned to tell all of our adventures.

For the first leg of our voyage, we descended deep into the bowls of the earth, to travel by subway to Higashi Shinjuku Station, right next to the fancy new headquarters of Square Enix. After existing our train and passing through the turnstiles, we climbed a flight of stairs that wouldn’t be out of place leading to the last boss of one of the publisher’s role-playing epics.


Waiting for us at the top, though, was not a fire-breathing dragon, but a selection of inexpensive restaurants that are frequented by the employees of the attached office complex. We were after more fantastical fare, though, so we kept walking, making our way towards another set of stairs that would finally put as back at surface level.

▼ Warning: despite appearances, jumping into the fountain will not replenish your energy or save your progress in life.


As with any proper quest, random monster attacks are part of the package, and as we climbed upwards, we were startled to see this lurking in the bushes.


Our fight or flight instinct kicked in, and having brought our appetites but no longswords, we beat a hasty retreat down the wooded path until our destination was in sight.



With its distinctive egg-like shape, there’s no mistaking Artnia for any other restaurant. While there’s seating outside, the skies above were threatening to open and drop a sheet of rain on us at any moment, so we swiftly ventured in.



If the concept “video game café” makes you envision Cheetos-stained couches and blaring fight scene background music, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Artnia is a class eatery all the way. The interior is modern and stylish, with a winding bench seat and also a bar counter. The sound of a fountain and an a cappella recording drifted out of the adjacent showroom, and the elegant effect went a long way in explaining why over 70 percent of the customers were women when we stopped by.



The courteous staff seated us at a table and brought the menu, which is entirely bilingual in Japanese and English, as the waiter told us half of the clientele is made up of overseas visitors. Deciding to save our Final Fantasy cocktail for after we’d satisfied our appetite, we began with a stack of chocolate pancakes.

Of course, every café in Japan serves dessert-style pancakes these days, so Artnia has to do something special to grab its customers’ attention. Each order comes with a special bit of Final Fantasy artwork seared into the top layer. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose which pattern it’ll be, but the menu showed such cute designs as the series’ rideable birds called chocobos, as well as the pint-sized furry moogles which had their big break in Final Fantasy VI.

As we waited, our waitress brought our napkins and silverware, which contained another tip of the hat to Final Fantasy lore, as the napkins bear the logo of Seventh Heaven, the bar managed by stout-hearted martial artist Tifa in Final Fantasy VII.


▼ The knife, while not specifically modeled after any weapon that appears in the series, does look surprisingly combat-worthy.


Next, the staff brought out our pancakes, and we were happily surprised to see the face of Cactuar, the reclusive cactus-based monster that can be found by diligent explorers of Final Fantasy’s desert areas.


Thankfully, the pancakes don’t contain any of the 10,000 needles Cactuar is known to attack his foes with. Instead, it comes with vanilla ice cream powdered with cocoa, chocolate sauce sliced bananas and nuts, and even a few pieces of soft chocolate.


Just about anything tastes good when it’s served with three types of chocolate, but Artnia goes the extra mile by making their pancakes with plenty of buttermilk, and cooking them thick enough for diners to enjoy chewing through their soft fluffiness.


Leafing through the menu, we also came across two special Final Fantasy VII parfaits, modeled after central characters Aerith and Cloud. Aerith’s is topped with strawberries evocative of her pink dress and red coat, but Cloud’s chocolate parfait seals the deal by coming with something even better than fresh fruit.

A buster sword!


Since life only gives you so many chances to eat weaponry-themed desserts, this was an easy choice. As we sat and waited for our order, we wondered what the sword was made of. Granted, a real weapon would be made of metal, but on the other hand, a less expensive material like plastic would probably mean we could take it home with us.

Then, once the parfait cane, we realized how base and close-minded our thinking had been. The best swords aren’t made out of steel or plastic, they’re made out of chocolate.




The edible buster sword isn’t sharp enough to slice the pancakes with, but it is extremely tasty.



The rest of the parfait isn’t any slouch either, with a tasty mix of bananas and thin sliced nuts, chocolate sauce, Panna cotta, and coffee jelly, plus a couple more of the same pieces of chocolate that came with our pancakes.


Now that we’d finished our dessert, it was time for an after-dinner drink. Aside from an extensive selection of teas and juices, Artnia has a lineup of Final Fantasy-themed drinks. Some of these are non-alcoholic, such as the Potion and Hi-Potion beverages made with honey and fresh mint. We wanted something with a little kick, so we turned to the page of cocktails, many of which are named after the mythical beasts that appear in the series, such as Shiva and Ifrit.

What caught our eye, though, were the materia cocktails, named after the orbs of magical energy around which Final Fantasy VII’s plot centers. We settled on the Blue Materia, which is made with gin, lime juice, and blue curacao (the similar Red Materia swaps crème de cassis for the curacao).

Before bringing the drink, our waiter set down a coaster bearing the mark of the Shin Ra Electric Power Company, the on-again off-again antagonist from Final Fantasy VII.


As a coaster, its intended purpose is to keep the table dry. However, there’s a placemat already doing that, so should you decide to stick the coaster in your bag and take it home with you instead of placing your drink on it, we can speak from experience that the staff doesn’t mind.

The drink itself is extremely unique-looking, with a vibrant blue orb in the center that looks just like a materia ball.

FF 0


The liquid portion is clear, being a mix of gin and lime juice, with the blue curacao contained in the frozen orb floating in the glass.



In regards to the Blue Materia, Artnia’s menu explains, “This drink has high alcohol content,” and they’re not kidding. This is a generous pour of gin, and initially it’s a bit on the harsh side. As the icy sphere thaws, though, the sweet citrus of the curacao mellows out the flavor, and if you slowly slip the drink, you can enjoy a number of flavor profiles before your glass is dry.


On the other hand, polishing off all the liquid in the glass quickly will give you the rare opportunity to hold a piece of materia in the palm of your hand.




Unfortunately, gripping the orb didn’t enable us to leap high into the air or summon Bahamut. Actually, it gave us a burning sensation on our hand, since it was still frozen.




…it tasted great!


Oddly enough, even though we didn’t gain any magical abilities from holding the mateira, after finishing the drink and orb, we did indeed feel stronger, not to mention intelligent, and somehow even more charismatic. Maybe there really is magic in the Materia cocktail.

Either that, or, like the menu says, there’s just a lot of alcohol in there.


Restaurant information
Artnia / アルトニア
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 6-27-30, Shinjuku East Square 1st Floor
東京都新宿区新宿6-27-30 新宿イーストサイドスクエア1F
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Closed Thursdays

Photos: RocketNews24