Anybody who follows us on Twitter will know that when we’re not blogging about Edinburgh, we’re often playing games. My Nintendo Switch is the single best purchase from last year, it’s made me fall in love with gaming all over again. Imagine my excitement when I heard about Konbo Arcade Cafe, a coffee shop and video game arcade with 80/90’s classic computer games. Coffee and computer games in a social setting, let’s get our geek on!
We caught up with Michael Cox from Konbo Arcade Cafe to find out more.
Konbo Arcade Cafe aims to bring Japanese arcade culture to Edinburgh in a comfortable cafe space.
The idea is to present a great selection of original games running in vintage arcade machines, all well maintained and in good working order, in a friendly and welcoming environment, completely removed from the old image of arcades as seedy run-down places.
We stock Artisan Roast coffee and a range of locally sourced food, in addition to imported Japanese snacks and soft drinks. We also sell a selection of quality retro gaming goods, focusing on Japanese imports and rarities.
I was inspired by the arcade scene in Japan; I visited there for research and went round dozens of arcades, finding them still very active and frequented by people of all ages and backgrounds.
I wanted to create a space that had some of that atmosphere to it, to get away from the negative associations people have with arcades in the UK – typically crumbling seaside attractions with broken machines that swallow your money.
The aim was to re-contextualise arcade games, to put them in a clean pleasant space where you could be sure the games are carefully selected and lovingly maintained.
I figured a cafe was a great venue to combine arcade games with, as it’s already a comfortable all-ages environment.
The other goal was to preserve these original games of the late 80s through 90s for continued enjoyment, by both a new audience and people who grew up with them.
Some of these original game boards are now quite rare and almost never seen in the wild. Konbo aims to give people a chance to experience these original games running on vintage hardware, in person with your friends.
With this approach, I hope we can bring back a little of the community feeling of arcade gaming.
We have a large collection of games which are rotated regularly – all original vintage game boards, no emulation!
We have over 50 games, covering all-time classics (Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Final Fight, Ghosts & Goblins) through to rare cult games including ‘bullet hell’ shoot-em-ups (Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou, Ketsui), more hardcore fighting games (Capcom vs SNK 2, Garou: Mark of the Wolves), and Japanese arcade classics that are little-seen in the West (Puyo Puyo Tsu, Detana Twinbee).
In short, it’s the sort of game selection you might expect to find in an arcade in Akihabara, but simply unheard of in the UK.
We do have a particular focus on the Japanese element of the arcade scene, even going so far as to have imported Japanese arcade stools and vintage Japanese arcade posters!
We sell arcade tokens, 4 for £1.
We use local suppliers for our coffee (Artisan Roast), hot chocolate (Coco), bread (Au Gourmand) and traybakes (Tasty Buns).
We also stock imported Japanese snacks and sodas (the melon soda is particularly popular!)
We specialise in grilled cheese sandwiches (try the Explosive Breaker!) and Japanese instant ramen.
We hold monthly fighting game tournaments focusing on different games (most popular local choices being Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Vampire Savior), weekly ‘Fight Night’ events that run 8-11pm Thursday nights with BYOB & all machines on free-play, plus we’ve recently started a regular late-night Wednesday event with the Super Smash Bros community.
On top of that, we offer private hires (either the back room or whole venue) that are very popular for parties.
We also hold occasional special events, such as the Shmup Weekend we ran in December (dedicated to shoot ’em ups) that attracted hardcore players from as far away as London and Sweden!
Everyone is welcome! We get a great range of customers, from parents introducing young kids to arcade games for the first time, to people just stopping by for a coffee, right through to hardened veterans spending hours working on a high score.
12-8pm during the week (closed Tuesdays), 12-6pm weekends, plus extra late opening hours for mid-week events or hires.
For more details, visit Konbo’s website