Mario cup
Image: Nintendo Life

Remember that super-secret cafe / bar in Tokyo dubbed the 'Mecca of Nintendo Fans'? We reported on it way back in 2018, but it's back in the news again because the owner has been forced to open it to the general public in order to combat financial woes brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

84 – so-called because owner and former Nintendo engineer Toru Hashimoto began working at the company in that year (and it's the final round of the Super Mario Bros. game, World 8, Level 4) – was once almost impossible to find. Hashimoto only allowed former industry colleagues and friends to enter, but would occasionally scatter clues relating to its location on social networks; anyone who visited had to promise to never reveal its precise location.

Now, for the first time since it opened its doors in 2015, 84 is going to be open to anyone who makes a reservation. The decision was a direct result of Hashimoto's dire financial situation; like so many small businesses in the world, 84 is struggling.

Speaking to The New York Times, Hashimoto said:

I am shouldering debt, and we are barely getting by, treading water.

Over the past few years, 84 has become something of a legend. While it's not possible to play any games there, the building is a shrine to all things Nintendo, and most of the stuff contained within is from Hashimoto's own personal collection:

Before the opening of the cafe, all of this was in my living room. So the concept of this cafe is also ‘welcome to my humble home.

He also notes that the reason he initially kept his customers on a personal level is because he felt too shy to open to the public:

I wasn’t sure I could serve a whole bunch of strangers, so I wanted to start with people I already knew.

Will you be seeking out 84 when Japan eventually re-opens for tourists? Or perhaps you're lucky enough to have visited it already? Let us know by posting a comment.