Chapter of video game history comes to a close, but staff are still hoping for a new beginning.

Monday was a holiday in Japan, and having the day off put a smile on the faces of many across the ordinarily industrious nation. In Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, though, the mood was bittersweet, since it was also the last day for the Sega Ikebukuro GiGO arcade.

The multi-story complex opened in the summer of 1993, at a time when arcades offered gaming experiences that were leaps and bounds ahead of the technical performance of home consoles or PCs. As time went on, Sega Ikebukuro GiGO did its best to adapt to changing tastes, adding music/rhythm games, UFO catchers, sticker picture booths, and even an entire themed cafe with rotating salutes to anime/game franchises popular with the otaku and fujoshi crowd, who would visit the arcade during shopping trips around Ikebukuro’s numerous specialty shops.

But on Monday, it all came to an end, and Sega Ikebukuro GiGO is now permanently closed.

Sega mascot Sonic was on hand to pose for pictures with fans who came by to pay their respects to the arcade, and he was a busy guy, as gigantic crowds gathered on Sunshine-dori, the street outside the building’s main entrance which is largely closed to vehicle traffic.

Many chose to stick around to the very last moment the arcade was in business, counting down the final seconds until the final closing time.

The blow was somewhat softened by the fact that Sega Ikebukuro GiGO had announced it was going out of business in August, giving fans about a month and a half to sort out their feelings. This also allowed the arcade to turn its last few weeks into a celebration of the shared history between the building and gamers. Crane game players who needed a bag for their prizes, for example, were given commemorative bags with an illustration of the building and the message “Thank you for 28 years” printed on them.

Giant signs bearing the message in Japanese, as well as the arcade’s opening and closing dates (1993.07.21-2021.09.20) were also put up on the building’s exterior.

Following the closure countdown, the arcade’s manager, an openly emotional Mr. Noda, addressed the crowd in a speech that was live-streamed on the official Sega arcade YouTube channel.

Noda began by thanking not only the arcade’s customers for their support over the last 28 years, but also the many people who have worked at Sega Ikebukuro GiGO. “If we could have, I wanted to go on operating the arcade, right here, forever, being able to see everyone’s wonderful smiles” he said, alluding to the many happy moments the facility had been able to provide.

However, while Noda and the staff were here to say goodbye, he made it clear that he has no intention of letting it become goodbye forever. “From tomorrow, Sega will not have an arcade in Ikebukuro, but we believe that the culture of arcades will not disappear,” he asserted, before promising “We will be working hard so that one day we can put up the Sega sign in Ikebukuro again, turn on the lights at a new facility, see you all again, and make new memories together.”

▼ Manager Noda, holding up a sign saying “Our sincere thanks for your patronage of Sega Ikebukuro GiGO over the last 28 years.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by receipts from the arcade’s souvenir shop, which bore the message マタカナラズアイマショウ, “We know we’ll meet each other again someday.”

Then there’s the sign with a timeline of the building’s history, for which “2021: Closed after 28 years and 3 months in business” is only the second-to-last entry, with another line, with the ambiguous date 202_, listed under it and the corresponding event left to be filled in.

Here’s hoping the dream of making a comeback comes true, but for now, at least gamers have a lot of fond Sega Ikebukuro GiGO memories to look back on.

Sources: Twitter, YouTube/@セガのお店公式チャンネル, Jin, Otakomu
Top image: PR Times
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