The Sega Blast City cabinets in my imaginary home arcade are forever young in the belle époque of 2D, CRT, stick-and-six gaming.
It’s all Street Fighter and Metal Slug and Dodonpachi, plus a bunch of chaotic Japanese mecha-fighter-shooter-racers that you’ve never seen before.
Here in Shinjuku Sportsland, the old-age arcade cabinets are mostly ticking away in retirement. Four Blast Cities are vegetabling on mahjong, four doddering on Tetris.
But they’ve done more that you’re forgetting. They took on the retro games when they were new games. They played the classics before they knew they were immortal. They sat untouched for weeks, running the old games that didn’t take off. They got hammered in the tournaments where age-old tactics were new ideas. They know what the Street Fighters meant.
Tetris and Mahjong are still around for a reason. These Cities are yellowed, wizened to the touch, but there’s hard-learned truths in their repeated old games if you take the time to imagine.
Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people