Chain managed by Space Invaders publisher pulls plug on game center.

The downtown Tokyo cityscape is constantly changing. As one of the most densely populated places on the planet there’s always a new businesses coming in or new building going up, and the lack of space means that first and old one has to go out.

Recently, a lot of the businesses saying goodbye are video game arcades, and Japan’s capital is about to lose yet another with the announced closing of Taito Station’s Nishi Shinjuku branch.

Part of the arcade chain managed by Space Invaders publisher Taito, Taito Station Nishi Shinjuku is a short walk from the west exit of Shinjuku Station, Tokyo’s busiest rail hub. Like most urban arcades in Japan it’s a multi-floor digital entertainment palace, with UFO catchers/crane games on the first two floors, driving and music games on the third, standard cabinet games on the fourth, and sticker picture booths in the basement. While it’s not the biggest arcade in Tokyo, it’s got a very convenient location, close to electronics superstore Yodobashi Camera and several restaurants, and not too far from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and its amazing observatories, making it an easy stop for a quick game or two during shopping, dining, or sightseeing excursions.

Alas, it’s all coming to an end on March 21. “Thank you for your continued patronage,” says Taito Station Nishi Shinjuku in its announcement tweet. “On March 21, Taito Station Nishi Shinjuku will be permanently closing. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has visited us over our time in operation.”

No specific reason has been giving for the closing. The obvious explanation, though, would be the extended gradual decline in arcade popularity as home consoles and PCs improve in performance and online connectivity combined with the negative effects on business from the coronavirus pandemic.

Reactions from saddened fans online have included:

“What?! It’s like a part of my youth is disappearing.”
“I used to meet up here with friends I made online. Taito Nishi Shinjuku, thank you for everything!”
“I went there all the time to play Star Horse in my student days.”
“Oh man, this makes me so sad. I guess even the big companies [like Taito] are hurting during the pandemic.”

Thankfully, Taito Station still has two other branches in the Shinjuku district, but it’s telling that many of the comments reference past nostalgia instead of recent visits. With its closure, Taito Station Nishi Shinjuku will follow Sega Akihabara Building 2, Silk Hat Ikebukuro, and Warehouse Kawasaki on the list of dearly departed arcades, and it’s a reminder that while reminiscing about the past is all fine and good, arcades also need people actively coming in and playing games in order to survive.

Arcade information
Taito Station Nishi Shinjuku / タイトーステーション新宿西口店
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Sinjuku 1-13-4
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Source: Twitter/@Taito_shinjuk_w via Otakomu
Top image: Taito Station
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