(Ever find yourself fiending for some Marvel when you’re on vacation? Need a Street Fighter fix during a business trip? Scene Spotlight is a new Shoryuken column that highlights regional fighting game community events and gatherings. Want to spotlight your scene? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @pattheflip.)
The East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area used to be one of the fighting game centers of Northern California, as players from all over would congregate for regular weekly tournaments at the UC Berkeley Bearcade, Castro Valley Golfland, and a few other Street Fighter-friendly spots. The arcades themselves might not be around anymore, but the tradition lives on in three regular gatherings: Oakland’s Bay Area Fight Night at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE), San Leandro’s Takedown Tuesdays at a hobby store called Double Tap Games, and an El Cerrito home gathering called Freedemonia.
Freedemonia, the El Cerrito Fight Club
Where: El Cerrito (Occasionally San Francisco instead)
When: Every weekend, 2 PM – 10 PM
Who: Worf Jostar
Why: Mostly Marvel; also “KOF, Street Fighter, and other poverty games”
How: Take BART to El Cerrito Plaza; otherwise, parking is reasonable
If you’re in the East Bay and in the mood for some Marvel action, El Cerrito’s Freedemonia is the place to be. “Every weekend is where the fighting game sessions happen,” Freedemonia host Worf Jostar tells me, “We do host small tournaments, kumites, and 24-hour charity streams, but our sessions are mostly casual.”
However, if you want to join Fight Club, you’ll need to be initiated; Jostar requires an audition before you’re okay to play. Fortunately, you don’t have to defeat local regulars Chrisis, Spiral, or Bing in virtual hand-to-hand combat: “We are open to the public from all walks of life, but I have to know you before you come and play,” Jostar says, “Think of it as an interview to get into the FDM club; just PM me and I’ll meet you somewhere for coffee. If I like you, I record your info on your state ID, and you officially become a member.”
Freedemonia is conveniently located near the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, which is your best bet for public transportation, though parking shouldn’t be too bad. El Cerrito Plaza also has a few food options (mostly chain stores: Panda Express, Macaroni Grill, Wing Stop, Starbucks, etc.) and a Safeway and a Trader Joe’s if you want to pick up snacks, but if you have the time, walk a bit further out to the Pacific East Mall. Also, alcohol is allowed at Freedemonia if you’re of legal age. For more info, check out the Freedemonia SRK forum thread, Twitter, or Facebook page.
San Leandro’s Takedown Tuesdays
Where: 125 Pelton Center Way, San Leandro, CA 94577
When: Every Tuesday at 7:30 PM
Who: Dailo Mac
Why: AE 2012, SFxTK, Injustice, UMvC3, TTT2
How: Take BART to San Leandro and walk four blocks; parking is reasonable
After a weekend at Freedemonia, it’s worth taking Monday off to relax and hit the lab — and then go right back in for the Mad Catz-sponsored Takedown Tuesdays at Double Tap Games in San Leandro. Hosted by Dailo Mac, Double Tap Games throws weekly tournaments for Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition ver. 2012, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter x Tekken ver. 2013, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, with AE 2012 and UMvC3 being the two main events; entry fee is $5 for the venue fee and $5 for each tournament pot. If you’re just looking to get some casuals in, they also host a monthly casual session that normally falls on Thursdays.
Don’t drop by expecting an easy win, though; sleepy San Leandro has plenty of killers come through. “Most of the NorCal elite come through once in a while for practice,” Mac says, “We usually have PR Balrog, LPN, and Kineda come through…even Gamerbee came and played in our tourney.”
Double Tap Games is just four blocks away from San Leandro BART, and if you’re coming by car, there’s a decent amount of parking in the area. As for food, Mac recommends a nearby taqueria and a Chinese fast-food spot across the street. For more information, check out the Takedown Tuesdays Facebook and Twitter, or stop by their SRK forum thread.
Fighting Game Field Trip: The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment
Where: The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, 610 16th St., Oakland, CA, 94612 (dial “#0230″ on the entry gate)
When: Every Friday from 5 PM – 12 AM
Who: Manuel Tovar
Why: UMvC3, AE 2012, SSBM
How: Close to both 12th St. and 19th St. Oakland BART stations; there’s also a nearby paid parking lot, and lots of metered street parking (free after 6 PM)
Don’t forget to bring your lab notebooks to the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (“The MADE”), because every Friday, manager Manuel Tovar runs the Bay Area Fight Night tournament for UMvC3, AE 2012, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Marvel and SSBM are the two most popular games, with the former typically clearing a dozen entrants and latter often breaking 30.
Entry costs $5 for a venue fee and another $5 to enter each tournament, but it’s easy to get your money’s worth; the MADE is a video game museum, so you can just ask Tovar to set up any game they have in-house and study up on your history in-between matches. (Note that the Bay Area Fight Nights will be on temporary hiatus after EVO, so get your practice sessions in now or be prepared to wait until after the tournament season.)
The MADE is within walking distance of both 19th St. and 12th St. Oakland BART stations. There’s also a paid parking lot across the street from the museum, and street parking is free and plentiful after 6 PM. In order to enter The MADE, you’ll have to dial #0230 at the entry gate and get buzzed in. Nearby food options include hoagies and greasy food at I.B.’s and a decent local burrito joint; if you’re willing to walk a few blocks you’ll be in Oakland Chinatown, which also has a few late-night food options. For more information, follow Manuel on Twitter or check out the Bay Area Fight Night Facebook page and SRK forum thread.
Remember: If you want your local fighting game community to be spotlighted on Shoryuken, email me!