Game makers take chances on real-world spin-offs

January 27th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

While Japan is home to numerous theme bars and restaurants, there aren’t many that are specifically based on any one computer game. Presumably the game makers keep a tight grip on merchandising of their products and have, until recently, seen no reason to branch out into the café or restaurant business. However, Jan. 28 will see game makers Square Enix opening a karaoke bar in Roppongi called Luida’s Bar. Based on a bar that existed – up till now – only in the popular game “Dragon Quest,” Luida’s Bar will serve food and drinks that reflect the game, such as slime nikuman (steamed buns) or “elf medicine.” Of course, the beautiful maidens who will be serving these concoctions will be dressed in ye olde fantasy world costumes.

Square Enix is not the first company to attempt a brick-and-mortar spin-off. Last year Polyphony Digital opened a Gran Tourismo cafe – right next to the Twin Ring Motegi race circuit – where visitors can play Grand Tourismo 5 while sipping their cappuccinos. But while Luida’s Bar had been opened hot on the heels of the release of “Dragon Quest 9” for the DS, some game fans were left wondering why the Grand Tourismo cafe opening hadn’t coincided with any notable activity for the game itself.

Even further back, in November 2005, Konami opened a game-themed café “Tokimeki Memorial Cafe” in Harajuku which was based on the eponymous dating-sim game. Drinks were served by hot young things in school uniform, presumably to a crowd of otaku too busy playing online games to notice the cuteness of the staff. While the game itself appears to be still going strong with “Tokimeki Memorial 4” recently out for PSP, Tokimeki Memorial Cafe itself only lasted a year (it moved to Akasaka and became a “live house/bar,” minus the Tokimeki connection). Perhaps the real world version wasn’t as popular as the virtual space? If this was the case, Luida’s Bar might not be around so long.

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