The Lost Arcade
Foreword: This review is being written from the deep underground in the bowels of Otto’s Taco’s east village. The coordinates have been erased and the directions crossed over with black markers…
In 2015 a documentary was made, directed by Kurt Vincent and documented the story of New York City’s last real video game arcade, “Chinatown Fair”. After a year of fundraising and promoting, the film finally premiered at the Metrograph Theater in 2016. The film interviews staff, managers and members of the Fighting game community and rhythm game community.
Over the years there were some well-known rules of living in New York City: 1.) Never walk alone after dark. 2.) Alphabet City was named A-you’re adventurous, B-Brave, C-Crazy, D-Dead. 3.) Uptown heads didn’t go into Brooklyn or Queens. 4.) Chinatown was no-man’s land. No one went into Chinatown and if one of us did, we would gather around them and ask questions. After some time passed and we out grew our own streets, we packed up our jansports and hopped on the train downtown to Canal Street. We’d pass by Scrapyard or what it once was called “Bomb the System”; a few shady tattoo parlors, knockoff designer goods & fabrics; storefronts with stolen electronic goods; walked passed the five points and into Manhattan’s Chinatown. It was a dizzying overdose of restaurants and specialty stores, herbal remedies, massage parlors, tea houses and martial arts dojo’s. At one time an actual Shaolin school was there, with actual monks; or perhaps extras from Kung-Fu.
Then we heard about this arcade that outlasted Playland and many of the other closed down arcades in the borough with twice as many video game cabinets that you’d find in some bodega or pool hall, perhaps there would even be SNK games or the new Street Fighter. A lil
gumshoeing or some keen eyes in a yellow pages would lead us to the end of Mott Street and the entrance of Chinatown Fair.
The film is short but, tells tales from the horses mouths themselves. There are even a few mentions of the tic-tac-toe chicken for Pete’s sake.