Grab your Virtual Boy and ready your quarters, it’s time to knock back a shot of gaming nostalgia!

When you think Shinjuku, you think bars. The two are an easy word association to make, much like sushi and rice, cats and dogs, Pokémon and Pikachu.

But while many of Shinjuku’s numerous bars are branded or part of a nationwide chain, others are…more unique. You can find niche bars themed around specific alcohol offers and targeting specific audiences. And sometimes you hear about something truly wild, like our very own reporter Tasuku Egawa did recently.

The wild bar he heard about is 16 Shots in Shinjuku’s 3-chome district, a stone’s throw from the SoraNews24 editorial headquarters. As Tasuku had business there anyway, he decided to drop in to sample the off-beat atmosphere…and also in hope of ordering the bar’s “bizarre specialty”, which his source had failed to elaborate on.

▼ Just five minutes from the SoraNews24 office!

▼ He also ordered a generous sample of rum, just to amplify the experience.

As Tasuku perused the menu, his eyes glanced past the conventional bar staples like fries and pizza and landed on the 3DO. According to the description it was a mixed dish of chicken, fish and fries, but why 3DO? At 1,500 yen (US$13.70) it was the priciest thing on the menu. So of course, he ordered a 3DO. Wouldn’t you?

He sipped his rum, taking in the luxurious surroundings.

▼ A reassuring stock of alcohol.

▼ The bar itself is littered with ’80s and ’90s gaming apparel and figurines.

▼ A treasure trove of arcade units and old posters

And then, he was served…

A…Panasonic R・E・A・L!

No, wait, the official title of this contraption is in fact a 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (or just 3DO for short.) It was a home entertainment system launched in 1993 to compete with the Sega Saturn and Super Nintendo. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t successful, and sank like a stone. But what was one doing here? And where was the chicken, the fish, the fries?

▼ “I thought you were extinct,” Tasuku gasped.

The 3DO order, in actuality a 3DO console, was too big to fit on the bar counter properly and jutted just a little over the edge. But don’t worry…once it was coaxed open, there was a treasure trove inside. Tasuku couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing.

▼ Why?!

According to the waitress the bar only has the one 3DO, so they would be in a bind if two people ordered it at once.

Now Tasuku had his food, he could soak up more of the atmosphere. While 16 Shots is a game-themed bar, that shouldn’t be confused with a “gaming bar” – the games here aren’t to be played, merely to lend a kind of nostalgic terroir as you drink. The posters, game units and memorabilia make this place seem like a time capsule, with everything from neon signs blaring advertisements for the Virtual Boy:

To beautiful game-themed liqueur bottles:

And 16 Shots had one more surprise: its owner. The bar is run by one Riichiro Abe, a former writer for the old computer magazine MyCom Basic Magazine which ran from 1982 to 2003. He was also a consultant on a TV drama set in an ’80s videogame arcade, No Continue Kid, which explains why posters from the drama are plastered all over any walls not stuffed with game placards.

▼ You can see one of the posters behind this sign for Game Arcade Watanabe, the setting of the drama.

Naturally the clientele who visit 16 Shots are also big gaming buffs, so if you want to drop by a place and pick up some neat gaming buddies this is a great bar to start at! And if your tastes lean into modern gaming as well, you can ride the subway over to Yurakucho to visit the all new Pokémon GO-friendly bar, too.

Bar information
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 2-3-8
Open 7:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays)
Closed Sundays

Images © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]