Toronto 2010 Day 2

Today’s the day where I’m supposed to go to the arcades. Last time I went to the arcades in Toronto, it was Pacific Mall, but they told me that that’s not a good arcade from Drummania anymore. Instead, I should go to Lovegety. The only issue is that Lovegety is pretty far from where I am. Plus, last night when I told Tiff I hadn’t found any arcades yet, she pointed out that there must be some, given all the Asians around here. So I did some googling, and I found this article.

Rows of vacant machines, many flashing a prophetic “Game Over”, sit like glowing tombstones, marking the demise of a once-thriving industry.

“We used to have six arcades between here and Bloor,” he recalls with a tone of sentimentality usually reserved for long lost loves.


Their arcade, nestled inconspicuously in the arrivals area at Union Station, is one of the few surviving ones in the city.


“Arcades had that seedy image and the city stopped issuing new licences,” Sheppard adds.  “The city wouldn’t allow any more arcades.  What you’ll find in Toronto is you can’t get a licence for an arcade, even if you wanted to.”

I write down their address (137 Yonge Street) and head there, planning to talk to the guy behind the counter, asking him if he’s the one who did the interview, and share his lament.

I get there, and the place is closed down.

The last arcade in downtown Toronto?

I’m getting pretty hungry, so I start heading up towards the metro station to head to Lovegety, scanning the restaurants along the way. I see a place called “Sunrise Grill” or something like, offering all day breakfast, so I head in. Their menu brags that everything is “fresh” and when the food actually arrives, I believe them. The shape of the potatoes is too chaotic for this to be factory made. The service was unbelievably fast. We’re talking 20-30 seconds between ordering and the food arriving here. Plus the water was extremely good (filtered?) they don’t just give you tap crap. Overall the food was good, though the toast could have used more butter.

I left a $2 tip on a $6 meal, which in terms of percentage, is quite a chunk, but in terms of absolute value, isn’t really all that much, and so I start to question the system of tipping based on percentages.

I take the subway to get “all the way up to the right side of the U” and then Google Maps tells me to take a “GO Viva” bus or something like that. I find the bus station, but I’m stumped at the machine. They colour code their buses, and I figure out by comparing their map and mine that I want to take the “pink bus” (and if only this were Japan, I’d be more than delighted to ride on the “pink bus”) but the machine says something about “Zone 1” or “Zone 2” tickets, and I can’t figure out which one I want.

A “GO” employee spots me and asks if I need any help. I tell him I want to get to Lovegety Station, and he says he doesn’t know this station, so I show him my map and he says it looks like it’s on Leslie, confirms that I want the pink bus, and that I should get a Zone 1 ticket. He also says that bus is leaving in a few seconds, so I rush to buy the ticket and jump on. It’s only after I’m on the bus that I start to wonder if I remembered to thank the guy.

I get off at Leslie, and it’s just a big deserted highway, except for a dome-shaped mall. I figure the arcade’s gotta be in there, so I step in and look around, but find nothing. I double check on GMaps, and realize it’s saying that this is the “approximate location”. So I Google for “Lovegety Station” and get their address and phone number, and I head to a counter to ask for directions.

The guy doesn’t speak English as well as Chinese, but he figures out what I want and says “Five zero five. This is Five five zero. That way. Across CIBC.”

So I follow his directions, and the guy was perfectly accurate. I would have never found it if he hadn’t said “Across CIBC”, because across from CIBC is a little outdoor parkinglot/mall type of thing, and Lovegety is just in a small corner of it.

I go in, and it’s depressing. Lots of broken machines stacked up on the side, and the place is practically deserted. No Drummania in sight, but as I continue down, I realize this arcade is L shaped, and down the turn is where DMGFV6 is. Also, there’s spooky pictures of the dancing baby here.

It’s $1.25 for 3 songs here, unless you play Battle mode, which is 4 songs. I play a couple of games when a guy puts down a token. When I finish up my game, I ask the guy if there’s a bubble tea place around here. He directs me to it, I go buy a honeydew, and when I get back to the arcades, I notice they have a DMGFV2 poster out in front.

I contemplate asking the guy behind the counter if I could have their old DMGFV2 poster, given that they probably have a V6 one now, but then I figure they actually probably don’t have a V6 poster, or else they would have put it up. I also notice a little flyer posted here. “DMGFC: Drummania Guitar Freaks Club seeking members. E-mail DMGFC_LOVEGETY@HOTMAIL.COM to join”. I send a quick e-mail from my iPhone, and 5 seconds later, I get a reply saying this address doesn’t exist anymore.

Today is a sad day for arcading in Toronto.

I head back in the arcade, and I see the same guy is just finishing up his game. I try to make conversation with him. “It’s pretty dead in here, huh?” “Yeah…” “I guess ‘cause it’s Monday.” “Yeah…” “You think there’ll be more people this evening?” “Yeah…” I give up at this point, smile and nod, and play a few more games.

Another guy comes up to play the GF machine next to me, and I finish my game before he does, so I’m just watching him, and he’s playing easy songs to get the extra stage. He fails that extra stage (on basic, I might add), and he looks upset and about to leave, when I stop him and ask him if he wants to play session. He agrees, and says he’s gonna get more tokens. He comes back and we play. For whatever reason, when you play session mode, you get 4 songs instead of 3. He makes me choose all the songs. The pads kind of suck shit, so I had no intention of going for the extra stage. He chose easier difficulty levels, and I didn’t realize until later that he was doing so specifically to get the extra stage. I start off with Passion (he gets S), then Tizona (he gets A), then Model FT2 (forgot what he got, but it wasn’t S, which means definitely no extra stage for us), then Over There.

He leaves after the game, and I noticed another flyer by the DM machine. It’s the “DMGFC members list” and lists 32 members. The only name I recognize is Karm’s, though I appreciate one member’s reference to “Milkcan”, the band from Umjammer Lammy. I take out my pen and sign my name on the list. Hopefully they won’t mind.

When I exit the arcade, I see the guy I played session with, and he’s sitting on the hood of a car (presumably his?) smoking. I walk past him, but then turn around and try to make conversation. I’m practicing not being so shy.

I ask him if he’s a member of the DMGFC thing, and he says it’s super old, back from the V2 days. He says now, and will repeat over and over as our conversation progresses that “Nobody plays anymore”. I tell him I’m from Montreal, and he tells (?) me it’s a nice place. I tell him we don’t have V6, which seems to grab his attention. I tell him “we have like 6. Not V6, but 6. You know what I mean?” I think he gets the picture. “We used to have 10, but people stopped playing and the owner sold it and got 6, I guess.” He tells me V7 is out now, and that Lovegety got V6 as soon as V7 came out. I tell him about GX. I ask him when do people usually come to Lovegety, and he tells me Friday afternoon. I ask him if they’re any good, and he says it varies. I think he said “some people do Over There”, which in my book, means that the people here aren’t very good. He asks me if I’ll come back on Friday, and I say maybe. Then I bid him farewell and I’m off.

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