What Old-School Really Looks Like

Think “Old School” is just all your favourites from the 1990s? Think again.

Although all Segas in Tokyo look very similar thanks to a tremendous, bland wave of standardisation washing in from some corporate sea somewhere, certain little differences persist and betray the character of the arcade and the local area.

Club Sega Jiyugaoka is patronised by an elderly population, who play all the classics from when they were younger, in the 90s. But genuine 90s arcades weren’t just full of the games we love now – they already showed their own retro roots in the sensibilities of 60s, 70s and 80s gaming.

So we’re going back to electromechanicals based on horse betting, recreations of popular table and card games, and automated quiz machines.

Club Sega Jiyugaoka has 90s and early 2000s cabinets representing the pinnacle of those genres, and the after-work familymen of that time are still coming along, all wrinkly and old, to play them.

In the corner, near all those coinpushers and pachinkos and medal games and bingo, are two lovely Sega Blast City cabinets. These trusty relics are flexible enough to run the domino simulators that the old men want – as well as the shoot-em-ups we modern-day midlifers remember from our youth.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people