Wannian Plaza (萬年)
This will be my first travel guide entry for gamers visiting Taipei. So far, in my two weeks here in Taipei, Wannian Plaza is home to both the best arcade and the best console game shops I've found.
How to get there
Wannian Plaza is in Ximending, a well known Japan focused and youth oriented district in Taipei. The easiest way to get there is by MRT. Take exit 6 out of the Ximen station(on the blue line) and you are in Ximending. You may feel like you just stepped into Tokyo. That is the general vibe of the area. Before you exit the station though, take a look at the station map of the surrounding area. Wannian Plaza is shown on that map. Aim for the Northen end of the building, where you see the dot on the map. You could walk right along the road on the southern end and not realize you are basically right next to the Plaza. All the signs are along the northern half of the block.
What to do
Once you've found the plaza, you should see some signs detailing the contents of each floor. The first three floors house a variety of clothing/fashion vendors. Not to much of interest there from a gaming perspective. Tom's World arcade is on the fifth floor and the fourth is where most of the gaming, manga, and anime related shops are. On the tenth floor is a Net Cafe, you might be interested in that. I think seven has KTV, while eight and nine have MTV. I had never heard of MTV before this, but it appears to be a place where you can rent a room and watch a movie, sort of like KTV. So in this case, the 'M' stand for movie. There is no relation between an MTV joint and the popular music channel.
Tom's World Arcade is half decent. Tokens are 5NT each, with a credit costing 3 tokens on most games. So roughly $0.50 US per game.
Here's what I saw there:
So, nothing compared to some of the arcades in Japan, but not exactly bad either. I just wish they had a larger variety of shmups.
Console Gaming Shops
The Game shops on the fourth floor carry a number of recent and retro titles. The Sega Saturn, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Dreamcast, Megadrive, and the Super Famicom were all represented with at least a few games. I didn't see many retro consoles there, however. The selection of current releases seemed decent, but be aware that the Gamecube and Xbox are not very popular in Taiwan. I did see a few games for those systems, but not many. Today, I bought Age of Empires(US) and a used copy of Jump Superstars(JPN) for my DS. My copy of Jump Superstars is in pristine condition and was only about $27. Much, much better than paying $49.99 plus shipping to PlayAsia or LikSang(This isn't a dig at either of those online retailers by the way. I will continue to use them once I return home to the US, and I'll be grateful to have that option.)
If you are a gamer and are in Taipei, then you should definitely head over to Wannian Plaza. I'll try to visit a few more times before I leave to make sure I give a well rounded impression. My main disappointment was the lack of retro consoles available for purchase. Maybe I'll have better luck in future trips.