05/27/2014

So Long And Thanks For The Memory Cards

by Matthew Hawkins

He’s hard to see, but Mario is hiding behind some moving boxes. Where’s he headed towards? Midtown. And where’s he leaving? Chinatown.

Long story short: the final vestige of Chinatown’s once glorious, video gaming legacy is officially no more. Which I wrote about over at Kotaku.

Been meaning to file something for the big K for ages; guess it took the somewhat untimely (though certainly not unexpected) closing of my favorite local game shop in all of NYC to light fire under my ass.

BTW, the piece was edited by the editor in chief himself, Stephen Totilo, and I’m more than happy with the minor tweaks here and there. Though I am bummed that the original ending was omitted. Here’s how I originally wrapped things up:

“Bottom-line: those who claim that the Chinatown Fair of new is nothing like the Chinatown Fair of old need to put down that Kool Aid because when I was there on Sunday, you still had a sweaty shirtless dude trying to impress the ladies with his mad Dance Dance Revolution skills, with zero luck. As much as some things change, others will remain the same.”

Though on a more serious note, to learn more of the true extent in which 9/11 devastated Chinatown (which I cite as being the primary reason for the neighborhood’s decline across the boar), I strongly suggest checking out Ground One: Voices of Post-911 Chinatown.

EDIT: Was hoping that folks would leave their own Chinatown memories in the comments section, over at Kotaku, and here’s my favorite thus far:

“God. This post is garnering ridiculous amounts of my high school year’s nostalgia that it’s almost making me break out with acne. (I had plenty of acne in HS.)

I don’t know how I managed to find all the game stores, but somehow I did, with my buddy I grew up with, and my then-girlfriend. I remember a spot that was in a second floor of Mulberry (or was it Mott?) in a narrow hallway on the other side of Canal St, which strictly sold bootleg games for $15 a pop (a ridiculous price, considering Flushing was only $12, then $10). They would also have a bargain bin, which allowed me to nab classics like Bushido Blade 2 & Pepsiman, $7.50 each.

I remember a spot on the second floor of Lafayette and Canal that also housed some arcade games, namely Pocket Fighter, which seemed popular with the kids my age (and myself). There was also a place under the Manhattan Bridge (I think along Doyers) that had bootleg games out, yet refused to service me, since I was a ghetto looking Filipino kid, who didn’t speak the local language (probably Mandarin).

Also, the guy you mention had the 2nd floor apartment used to be a bigger store across the street, where he would peddle hentai and Japanese smut, to all ages. He also had an odd selection of other anime-related paraphernalia, and a legitimate used copy of DBZ Hyper Dimension for Super Famicom he asked $80 for. There are so many other spots I can name, but it was always the ones you felt like you were really breaking the law (you were) that made it so memorable.

Yes, these years were the wild west for video gaming, and while I understand counterfeiting games was wrong, it gave me a strange sense of enjoyment, randomly picking up games I know damn well I wouldn’t have actually paid real $$ for. I miss these days so, so much. Thank you for this article!”

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