Shinjuku is one of the most exciting districts in all of Tokyo. In fact it is almost too busy, being home to the busiest train station in the world (45 out of the 51 busiest train stations are located in Japan) that services a reported 3 million daily commuters. Shinjuku is also home to an entertainment bar serving all things Capcom, known as the Cap Bar. Capcom is one of the biggest publishers in the industry with a history of iconic franchises spanning several decades. Seeing as Shinjuku is only a short train ride from my temporary residence I would be remised if I did not pay a visit and report my findings to our readers. Also they have Resident Evil inspired Brain Cake. That’s right, I said Brain Cake. Yeah, sure are glad you clicked on this article link now aren’t you?
Cap Bar is only a short 8-10 minute walk from the aforementioned Shinjuku station. Getting directions in Tokyo is tough, even Google Maps is not much of a help, so I get lost looking for places quite often. However, the best way to find the Cap Bar is to ask directions or follow the signs leading the Shinjuku City Office building; Cap Bar is located on the same block.
Cap Bar is a collaboration between Capcom and Pasela, a company that provides numerous resort dining options. The building that houses Cap Bar also features other swanky restaurants and bars that look like swell places to enjoy a meal. However, for gamers, Cap Bar is the only logical choice.
Knowing nothing other than the location beforehand, I went in completely oblivious of what to expect and what the procedure for getting in was. I spoke to the host standing in front of a door labeled Cap Bar who thankfully was able to converse with me in English. I explained that I did not have a reservation (it is highly recommended that you make one in advance) but he let me know that there was an opening for 4:30 that afternoon, meaning I had just a little over a twenty minutes wait to be seated. Cap Bar is unique in the way it operates. You can only be at the bar for a maximum of 2 hours. The day progresses in shifts with set times for accepting new patrons at 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, and 9:30. You will not be allowed to enter at any other time so if you make a reservation be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Of course you can leave before your 2 hours are up but that would be squandering precious gaming time.
While I waited in the lobby (where I could access free wi-fi on my phone, a rarity in Japan) I was given a booklet with the number 6 on it. The number represented my seating assignment at the bar. Inside the booklet was an ordering sheet listing every item on the food and drink menu as well as Capcom inspired goods that will be brought to you before you leave. Looking around, I noticed that my fellow patrons were checking off their orders in preparation of being seated. The lady sitting next to me gave me instructions on how to do so. The listed items were all in Japanese which I struggled to read but nonetheless was able to order to the best of my ability. Later I realized that this was a mistake because once inside the full menus featured all the items in English with accompanying pictures. Regardless it makes for a good story and serves as a word of caution to other non-Japanese gamers that may venture to the Cap Bar.
Once it was time to enter, the staff literally sprung into action, theatrically giving instructions and performing a skit of sorts that culminated in all us guests yelling at the top of our lungs to express how excited we were. Once inside I was immediately struck by how stylish and mature the decoration was. The black interior was covered with assorted posters, figurines, and other mementos of Cacpcom’s most famous franchises. I took my seat at the bar since I was dining alone, though tables are available for those that want to sit in a group. In total I estimate that the bar has a capacity of 25 guests or so.
Once we were seated the staff once again greeted us and let us know everything that was available during our time. They explained that we were all there to have fun and be lively. There were two white Nintendo 3DSs at the bar as well as two PS3’s and an Xbox 360 station running games at the opposite end of the restaurant. The 3DSs had Super Street Fighter IV 3D as well as demos for Resident Evil Revelations and EX Troopers (more on that later). One PS3 played Dragon’s Dogma and the other had the newly released Resident Evil Revelations HD Edition (or Biohazard Revelations Unveiled Edition as it is known in Japan). The Xbox 360 played the downloadable Darkstalkers Resurrection (Vampire Resurrection in Japan). I did not catch all of the details that were explained because they were in Japanese but I know for sure that photos are allowed but recording sound and video are not.
I placed my order not fully knowingwhat to expect. To reiterate, wait until you can read the actual menu before ordering! Here is a rundown of what I got:
White Wine Cranberry ¥730
Leave it to Dante to have the girliest drink on the menu. I admit, I only ordered this because it was listed as alcohol and had Dante’s name attached so color me surprised when the bartender handed me a wine glass filled with pink liquid. Knowing I had just made an awkward first impression on those around me I attempted to swallow my embarrassment along with the wine. It is listed as white wine cranberry but, honestly, wine cooler would probably be a better description. The cranberry flavor almost completely masked the taste of alcohol. At least the glass came with a cute ornamental rose. It would be the ideal drink to share with your significant other so long as he or she knows how to pull off a 50 move combo in DMC.
Mango Soda pop Icecream ¥580
I was feeling bummed and not at all buzzed after my first drink so I decided to order another. I was tempted to order something alcoholic again but the variety of soft drinks looked too good to pass up. Not being a big soda drinker but hoping for the best I ordered Ryu’s Hadouken. I was not disappointed. The soda is blue, the same color as Ryu’s trademark fireball from which it takes its name. It comes in a round glass with a scoop of mango sherbet ice within. The drink is sweet and refreshing and the sherbet adds a sour kick that causes a tickling sensation in your mouth. The best part is that when your server brings it to you he will do so by pushing his hands forward and chanting “HADOUKEN!”
Kojyuro Katakura’s Pasta
Peperoncino Pasta ¥880
I am not a food critic, I review videogames. I ordered Kojyuro Katakura’s Pasta because I could read the word pasta (パスター) in Japanese. I do not even know which character or game the name refers to. The dish says pasta but actually it tastes more like udon, Japanese noodles. The meal comes in a wooden bowl with vegetables and two edible twig-like ingredients that tasted pretty good. The dish is spicy due to oil that is peppered with dry chili and other peppers. It was surprisingly delicious and I had yearned for pasta after being in Japan so long. Be sure to combat the spiciness by following up with Ryu’s Hadouken.
Draft Beer ¥550
I did not order a Master Beer (and so don't have a photo of it; the image above is of the Cap Bar menu) but I thought readers would like to know about it anyway. It is just the name for the beer on tap and is listed under the Monster Hunter part of the menu. The beer comes in a silver barrel shaped mug. The price (about $5.50 USD) is standard for the nicer bars in Tokyo and downright cheap compared to some places in Roppongi. If you are not in the mood for fancy drinks, this is your best bet.
Mont-Blanc with Rasberry Sauce ¥680
At last, we come to the desert I had been waiting for. When the server brought out my order a panic alarm from Resident Evil played. They presented me with a plate frosted with powder sugar featuring the brain cake covered in blood (raspberry sauce) and a very sharp knife to cut it with. I took the knife and performed split brain surgery by cutting along where the corpus callosum would have been. Afterwards I dug in with a spoon. The desert is probably best split between two people, a hemisphere each, but being alone I downed the whole thing alone. It was more than satisfactory, it was decadent. The different layers of flavor with vanilla cream in the center satisfied my sweet tooth to the fullest extent. The raspberry sauce provided a sour punch that for some reason cleared my sinuses. If you go to Cap Bar, the brain cake is a must order. Now I understand why zombies crave these things so much.
In between my different courses I played one of the 3DS consoles in front of me. I got to try out a demo of Ex Troopers, a more Japanese take on the Lost Planet franchise, that has yet to reach the States. Here is a short preview:
E.X Troopers is a spin-off of the Lost Planet series that retains the third person shooting gameplay and frozen wasteland setting. The cel shaded graphics are more colorful and manga-inspired than the more realistic look of the Lost Planet games. Despite this visual difference, E.X. Troopers definitely inhabits the same universe as Lost Planet. The game takes place on a planet with a surface covered in snow and ice. Troopers of various kinds work together to defeat enemy forces and giant mechs.
I am one of the biggest critics of the 3DS's 3D display capabilities but even I admit that the effect looks incredible while playing E.X. Troopers. The bold lines and snow effect combine to give off an exhilarating sense of depth and sometimes desolation. I think the demo I played was from the first level. I controlled pink haired main character as he followed the instructions of another trooper. The controls are easy to grasp: using the circle Pad to move, you can jump, strafe, boost and switch targets using the various shoulder and face buttons. Using your automatically reloading weapon you can fire continuous shots, or bullet fire, or single shots of explosives that deal more damage.
After traversing the terrain using a grapple hook I got to try the game's combat firsthand. My foes were large, bug-like enemies with orange areas on their back designating their weak spots. Once I defeated them, I had to scour the level looking for three nodes to activate. In order to gain access to a special door I had to defend a female trooper from enemy fire while she was working on the locking mechanism. The demo culminated in a boss battle against a giant red Mech. Overcoming this boss involved a lot of dodge rolls and hitting him with charged explosive shots. When I drained its health about 2/3rds of the way down I was given the chance to pull myself onto the mech with the grapple hook by mashing the A button but my reflexes were not fast enough so I had to finish it off the old fashioned way. The demo ended after the fight but I still wanted to play more of E.X. Troopers. Capcom has yet to announce plans for a Western release, though Lost Planet 3 should be out some time this year. E.X. Troopers is also available on the PlayStation 3.
Other than E.X. Troopers I played a few rounds of Super Street Fighter IV 3D. Since there were two 3DS handhelds available you could play Versus with another willing patron at the bar. As with almost everywhere in Tokyo, be sure to bring your 3DS along to collect the Miis of your fellow guests as well as those that reside inside the Cap Bar.
Next to the bar is a bookshelf featuring an assortment of manga, books, and strategy guides based on Capcom games. I perused the collection and spent some time reading beautifully illustrated manga based on Okami and Okamiden as well as a children's picture book starring the cats of Monster Hunter. All the publications are written in Japanese so a non-fluent speaker will have to content themselves with admiring the pictures. Some of the books are available for order from the goods menu available at Cap Bar.
Speaking of goods, I ordered an item from Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City, again without fully knowing what I was purchasing. It turned out to be a fuzzy badge featuring the Umbrella Corporation logo. In hindsight, after looking through the goods menu, this would probably have been the last thing I would have ordered, especially given the various plushies, posters and books that were on sale.
As our two hours came to a close, the waiting staff drew a lottery using the numbers of each guest's seat. Seeing as they were only 10 or so people with me at the time I felt good about chances, but alas number 6 was not called. The winning number was presented with a box full of assorted Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation 3 games, though I think he may have only been able to choose one.
So ended my visit to Cap Bar. Despite my ordering faux pas I had a blast. The games available to play and the theme of the decor evidently change with Capcom's release schedule. I expect in the countdown to Monster Hunter 4's massive launch that that franchise will move into the spotlight. Upon exiting I was given a complementary Resident Evil coaster and a point card of sorts to encourage repeat visits. If you have a soft spot for Capcom or just want a cool unique videogame based dining experience then be sure to include a visit to Cap Bar on your itinerary to Tokyo.
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gamrReview Japan: Cap Bar