Is Capcom's Restaurant Fated to Be the Next Chuck E. Cheese's?
Capcom is behind some of the greatest video games of all time, including Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, Ace Attorney and many popular crossovers with Marvel. Not content with just providing gaming entertainment, the company has decided to open its very own video game-themed bar in Tokyo.
The bar and grill features food based around famous Capcom properties, such as Ace Attorney Objection! Onion Rings, and alcoholic drinks served in Resident Evil syringes. Kiosks will be on hand for demoing Capcom games. Bonus points if you order the tofu dish and get the joke.
The whole setup looks interesting. Who doesn't like bar food and video games? Plus, we've been dedicated Capcom fans, having switched allegiance from Konami in the late '80s when we realized that the company was staffed by demons who subsist on the tears of frustrated children. The only thing that's worrisome is whether or not Capcom will follow the unfortunate path of Atari when it birthed Chuck E. Cheese's.
Nolan Bushnell founded Atari back in the '70s, and rode the revolutionary game system all the way to fame and fortune, including working with a young Steve Jobs on Breakout. He was forced from the company in 1978 over disputes regarding the direction Atari should move toward, meaning he missed both the highly profitable early '80s boom and the devastating game crash of 1984 that nearly wiped out the industry.
Before he left, he started Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre, billed as the first family entertainment restaurant. Bushnell's plan was for the venue to serve as a host for Atari games in addition to the animatronics shows, playgrounds and food. The company thrived for several years before facing bankruptcy. Bushnell left, and the franchise was bought by Showbiz Pizza, who now runs more than 500 locations.
On the surface there's not much correlation between Capcom's restaurant and the Chuck E. Cheese brand. Capcom has clearly embraced a more grown-up gamer, whereas Bushnell went into the eatery business at a time when video games were seen as toys, and not an all-ages entertainment medium, but the story doesn't end there.
Bushnell's latest experiment involves food and gaming once again. His uWink Bistros utilize touch screens for ordering -- think Buc-ees -- that also display nutritional information and movie trailers.
Also, the screens offered a variety of games designed to engage groups in play, hoping to capitalize on America's newfound love of easily available flash games. The idea was fine, but clumsy interface, poor food, games that crashed and bad service ended uWinks almost as quickly as it began.
Combining food, booze and video games is one of those things you'd think would be almost impossible to mess up, and certainly Dave & Buster's don't seem to be having any trouble making it work. Still, the founder of Atari failing at it isn't a good sign, and hopefully Capcom will learn from Bushnell's mistakes.