Over the past few years, many fans were saddened to hear news about the closure of several historical arcades in Tokyo and especially in the otaku-centric town of Akihabara, but today Bandai Namco announced that it's opening a new one.
On March 1, Bandai Namco will launch its Namco Akihabara store, the first arcade owned by the company in Akihabara in the 68-year-long history of its arcade business.
Those who are familiar with the location will possibly recognize the building portrayed in the mockup that came with the press release. The most obvious difference is that it used to be red. The location, sandwiched between one of the main exits of the local train station and the popular Radio Kaikan store, used to belong to the popular Sega Akihabara Arcade 4 before it was rebranded into GiGO following the acquisition of the house of Sonic's arcade business in 2020. The store was then finally closed in September last year.
Now Bandai Namco is giving it new life offering plenty of ways for fans to have fun on the premises. First of all, the new facility promises one of the largest collections of arcade machines in the area, pledging to help form a new gaming community with events and promotions. Among those, we'll find a whopping 46 Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 XBoost units on the first underground floor. Bandai Namco plans to offer the game's thriving community a new location to gather and enjoy dedicated events.
The first floor will have the usual UFO catchers on top of the Ichiban Kuji Official Shop Akihabara (Ichiban Kuji is a form of lottery very popular among otaku. Customers purchase tickets and receive an instant prize, usually a figure or gadget from anime or games) and the Banplayer Akiba Figure Collection showroom where Banpresto will exhibit its figures.
The second floor will have more UFO catchers, while the third floor will host arcade machines including popular games like Taiko no Tatsujin and many more.
The fourth floor will host the Gashapon Bandai Official Shop Akihabara which will specialize in the famous random toy vending machines (not everyone knows that the Gashapon brand is owned by Bandai). It'll include a whopping 800 machines and it'll be one of the largest in the Akihabara area.
Lastly, the fifth floor will provide a new location for trading card game fans with DeckSta, short for Decks Stadium, where Bandai Namco will host events and tournaments dedicated to its TCGs.
Incidentally, between March 1 and March 12, the facility will host a trial event of the new Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 OverBoost arcade game scheduled to officially launch in the summer of 2023.
While we don't know whether Bandai Namco's new arcade might mark a resurgence of the arcade industry in Akihabara, it's certainly nice to see clear signs of the town's recovery following the difficult years of the pandemic.