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Final Fantasy: Record Keeper Studio Visit: Photo Tour
Photos by Mike Salbato

March 25, 2015 – I'm hardly the first American video game website editor to visit Japan. But this was all new to me, so I made a point of photographing nearly everyhing I could, everywhere I went. Showcased here are the most relevant things for our RPGFan readers - nerd stuff! I mean, there's some other things thrown in too, and if you're curious what kind of offices Square Enix and DeNA have, that's here, alongside expensive fruit, robots, and so much more.


Tokyo: City Life, Games, and More

This is really the "everything" category, where I collect photos of the city, food, and every random thing I saw.

Obligatory Tokyo Skyline Shot 1 Obligatory Tokyo Skyline Shot 2 Shibuya at night from on high. Shibuya at street level. Hey bro, I heard you like Sofmap, so I put more Sofmap by your Sofmap (in Akihabara). Hey look, it's the Rob Department! Don't worry, there is indeed an entire section devoted to selfie sticks. Somehow, I didn't notice the giant ad that just reads Groove Coaster is my new favorite arcade rhythm game. There's so much great stuff in every nook and cranny of Akiba, it's overwhelming. Kotobukiya has some great books and merchandise... ...like these adorable Bravely Default charms. One of the most important places I went in Japan - ChocoCro I WANT IT ALL. Yes, this melon is 16,200 yen. Yes, that's about $135 USD. (I didn't buy it)

DeNA

DeNA occupies several floors of this building, and we had a tour of the offices, and saw just enough that I wish my office had this kind of atmosphere.

The Hikarie building which houses DeNA (and more). The lines in the lobby just make me think 'GOTTA GO FAST' Welcome to DeNA! DeNA Reception Desk Lounge area and a SECRET DOORWAY to the offices Yes, DeNA owns a baseball team, proudly displayed next to these idols. Don't lie, you wish your company had refrigerators filled with branded water, too. The other side of the lounge and reception room. Several DeNA works proudly on display. Hey, I've heard of this game! iPads looping various footage from DeNA titles. I might be jealous of the refreshing open floor plan of this work space. There's still plenty of figures and trinkets on display, of course. Several of these characters aren't even in the game yet, but it gives you a taste of what's to come!

Luida's Bar - Dragon Quest Café

It's safe to say that Dragon Quest is a big deal in Japan. We'd never see a themed eatery like Luida's Bar here, which is a shame, because it's just such a neat experience to be in a place like this.

Even after going here, it's surreal to think this kind of place exists. The windows adorned with Dragon Quest symbols are just great. Hello velvety wall and rich mahogany. Have you seen this sword before? Why is there a display case full of shiny and glowy slimes? Why not? Now, little slime, I know the Slime King wears a crown, so I daresay you're an impostor. More Dragon Quest figures! Ah, the Royal Menu. What have we here... At a glance, a lot of this food seems normal. There we go! Slime-themed everything! Plenty of fun themed drinks - the first one comes complete with a little potion. More places need to offer adorable creature-shaped desserts. The fanciest drinks. The first one comes complete with a sword. Slime buns! The white were filled with pork, and the purple, with sweet potato. Look, little buddy, I know you're cute, but I like my pork, so this is happening. Totes adorbs. Are we doing Eyes on Me (FFVIII) karaoke? Yes. I just couldn't help myself. Everyone was doing it!

Robot Restaurant

If you had told me that, at some point during my time in Japan, I'd be watching a cute Japanese girl sing Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' while sitting on a gargantuan motorized glittering horse, I'd have said you're crazy. But... well, here we are. This show is absolutely unlike anything I've seen, so if you find yourself in Tokyo, you simply must check it out.

Even the intense glitz of the waiting room cannot prepare you. Rainbow Dash-like hair is a surefire way to make me fall in love. Ladies, take note. Then there's these guys. It's such classical Japanese-themed decor... injected with neon lights! I left my head and my heart on the dance floor. Robo-boxing! And now a giant robot snake. Back to the heroic pop stars. I was there, and I don't even know what's going on. Although I do like lasers. Supergirl's outfit sure has changed in this latest DC Comics overhaul...

Square Enix

Square Enix is probably about as secretive as you'd imagine about letting people wander its halls. We did get to poke around the waiting area and check out some cool meeting rooms to share with you, however. Were it not occupied, I'd have snapped a photo of the chocobo meeting room too!

This crazy-looking building is where some of our favorite games are made. Elegance. One of the craziest ceilings I've ever seen. You probably recognize some of these games. Lots of Final Fantasy here on the left... ...with Dragon Quest here on the right. Hopefully Bravely Second will make it out in English sooner than the first! Final Fantasy VII - on vinyl! Just FYI, those Distant Worlds III and FF Brass albums are amazing. More recent releases! I actually didn't know Square Enix published The Walking Dead here. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD released just after my visit, so there was a big marketing push for it going on. Space Invaders Meeting Room! Dragon Quest Meeting Room!

Artnia - Square Enix Café and Store

This is where I had to restrain myself, lest my wallet cry out in pain. Artnia has an awesome selection of themed food items, and so much merchandise and soundtracks for sale that one really needs to be careful. Many of us at the café also got special latte art, all of which are showcased here.

Welcome to Artnia! It's a little hard to miss. Remember when I said Dragon Quest is a much bigger deal in Japan? The checkout counter. Materia-themed chocolate. Sadly, eating one will not teach you Ultima. Fine china with SaGa sprites on it? Sure! Slime EVERYTHING These little monster figures were cool just to look at... ...but when I picked one up and learned they're solid metal, that's when I understood the price. Take your frustrations out on an adorable mascot ball! This room is just magical. The FF Crystal motif of this space is simply gorgeous. Sora! Adding to the magic is this suspended crystal cluster inside a water feature. Yes, I will take... all the Keyblades. The latest Bahamut figure is nothing short of imposing. Did I mention the room was pretty? SaGa's 25th anniversary is a big thing at Artnia right now. Why didn't I take this napkin home!? If it wasn't still morning, I totally would have drank a Shiva. Final Fantasy VII Parfaits! Shin-Ra Latte Art Chocobo Latte Art Cute slime pancakes come complete with edible chocolate menu plates. The detail on this Cloud latte art was so much that I couldn't see it without stepping back. Of course I ordered the banana chocolate chocobo pancakes. Although the caramel apple Shin-Ra pancakes were tempting...






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