Last year, video game fans and Akihabara historians were saddened by the announcement that Sega was closing its Sega Akihabara Building 2 arcade. Now, exactly one year and one day later, we find out that we’ll soon have to say goodbye to another landmark Sega game center.
On Monday, the Sega Ikebukuro GiGO arcade announced that it’ll be shutting down, bringing to an end nearly three decades of welcoming gamers, otaku, and fujoshi. The eight-floor (including basement level) facility opened on July 21, 1993, the same year Sega released such technological marvels as "Virtua Fighter," "Star Wars Arcade" and "Alien 3: The Gun," and with "Daytona USA" and "Virtua Cop" arriving in 1994, it must have seemed like the good times were going to last forever.
But as time went by, arcade games were surpassed by their home counterparts in terms of gameplay sophistication, and the audio/visual gap has pretty much disappeared as well. To its credit, Sega Ikebukuro GiGO made remarkable efforts to adapt and stay relevant, adding more sticker picture booths and then crane games stocked with anime character merchandise, synergizing with Ikebukuro’s rise as a center of otaku culture. The building has also housed karaoke rooms and a themed cafe based on Sega’s popular "Sakura Wars" game/anime franchise, and it now boasts a Sega Taiyaki shop on its first floor, selling Japanese sweets produced in cooperation with Yokohama-based sweet bean cake specialist Kurikoan.
Unfortunately, though, the multi-faceted party is coming to an end. Sega Ikebukuro GiGO’s lease is ending, and the building will be starting renovation construction, so Genda Sega Entertainment (the new name of the division of Tokyo-based arcade amusement machine rental company Genda which bought a controlling interest in Sega’s arcade management business last fall) is shutting the Ikebukuro arcade down for good next month.
With a prime location on a crowded corner of Sunshine 60 Street, the predominantly pedestrian pathway that leads to Ikebukuro’s Sunshine 60 entertainment complex, a lot of memories have been made at Sega Ikebukuro GiGO, and the news has hit Twitter commenters hard, with reactions including:
“I went there so many times during the golden age of arcades. Really gonna miss it.”
“I’ll never forget going to the Sakura Wars cafe on the top floor.”
“I’ve been going there to play crane games for the past 20 years. The Shinn Asuka and Rey Za Burrel [from Gundam Seed Destiny] plushies I got there are still two of my most precious treasures.”
“When they first opened, I was working in the neighborhood and the fighting game crazy was in full swing, so I used to stop by all the time.”
“I haven’t visited in a while, but this place will always be a page in the book of memories from my youth.”
Making the whole situation even sadder is that it wasn’t that long ago that Silk Hat, another major Ikebukuro arcade just a block away from Sega Ikebukuro GiGO went out of business.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that at least Genda Sega Entertainment hasn’t said that Sega Ikebukuro GiGO was underperforming, so there’s a sliver of hope that the company might create some sort of successor game center in the neighborhood. Even if it does, though, odds are it won’t be on the scale of the sort of arcades Sega was building back in the ‘90s, and the last chance to visit Sega Ikebukuro GiGO will be September 20.
Sega Ikebukuro GiGO / セガ池袋GiGO
Address: Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 1-21-1
Open 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Source: PR Times via Hachima Kiko, Twitter/@SEGA_ikebukuro
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