It this the best thing to happen to the Australian gaming scene – or what?
© 2010 Beth Sasagi
If there is a heaven, and I’m not saying there isn’t, I think that it most certainly would have video games lining the walls in a bright and fantastic fashion.
Friendly and fun people would definitely be a requirement of this great beyond- no fools or rude people ruining all your fun, not to mention perhaps some fun cocktails to share with your new heaven-buddies.
Well, maybe heaven might or might not be like that, but the Mana Bar certainly is. It just opened last Saturday to the great appreciation of Brisbane’s gaming community.
“ Operating out of Fortitude Valley, which nestles in the heart of the Brisbane clubbing district, the Mana Bar is run by a variable smorgasbord of talent with the whole concept of the ‘Gamer Bar’ being blamed on the AustralianGamer co-owner turned bar owner, Yug, who on the night was found to be handing out prizes along the line to the waiting horde of adoring nerds (yes, I was in said line of adoring game nerds).
The next on the list is the mutton-chop bearing Pras who also happens to be the senior designer over at Sega Creative Assembly in Australia.
Described as cynical, stoic, sarcastic and as ‘really very British’, is the fedora wearing Yahtzee of the Zero Punctuation fame.
Rounding out the group of owners is the exceptionally talented Shay, the man responsible for the alcoholic beverages you see in the Mana Bar.
The night saw over one hundred people lined up outside with a further fifty keeping the place to capacity well after midnight.
I found myself lining up for over three hours outside before my group were able to gain access to the club, which, once we entered, was completely worth the wait.
Whilst the wait in line was long, having Little Sister walking up and down the line chatting with folk as they waited, along with the Master Chief and Cortana handing out prizes (one of which each went to my two accompanying friends) made it an enjoyable experience, along with the four owners coming out from time to time and chatting with the crowd amicably.
One highlight of simply waiting in line was being given 5 exp by the security, which, according to security man Gabriel (who at the time was dressed as Ryu) can be exchanged for real skills.
Once inside the Mana Bar, the atmosphere is the first thing that hits you with the chilled out vibe of gamers hanging out together, or so I’m told, as I was instantly distracted by the variety of games on offer.
Starting with Guitar Hero 5, I found myself wishing I hadn’t jumped on after I failed so hard, it just wasn’t funny, but at least when the people around aren’t laughing, but offering genuine advice, you feel a whole lot better at sucking at a game.
Next was FIFA 2010, which was dominated most the night by the master himself, Junglist (Jeremy Ray) which initially was intended as a competition.
If you could beat the Junglist at FIFA, you win a prize, but, rumour had it that, by the end of the night, if you could score a goal against him, you would win a prize.
The crowd pleaser on the night definitely had to be Street Fighter IV which had half the bar watching and cheering as people challenged one another.
Hex from Good Game was spotted amongst the crowd of fans and challengers alike.
On the arcade side of things, the yet to be released, Raskulls was the other apparent crowd pleaser with its cheery and absurd graphics and easily mastered gaming style.
Rounding out the games on offer was Wii Bowling, with someone having created all the avatars to resemble several crew of the Normandy from Mass Effect, a game I had never played.
But I dominated, beating not only groups of surprised gamers (as I had joined after someone left three rounds into the game) but also, to my own bragging right, the Junglist.
Sharing the games was an easy affair- many were keen to simply watch as others played, or to give up their go for any within range of the game.
Whereas there were small plaques next to the screens with the rules about sharing, it was often left so that, rather than one turn per player, people often allowed those new to the game to have second or third turns.
With the games adequately great, the next step in the Mana Bar is the cocktail section, or simply, the bar itself. With particular note to the , ‘Princess Peach’, the very, very blue, ‘Mana Potion’, to the Yahtzee recommended ‘Fiery Breath’ which left us coughing in surprise.
The Mana Bar is THE place to be in Brisbane of you can even think of calling yourself a gamer, or even game-enthusiast. The owners are all friendly and willing to chat, the bar staff are all exceptionally good at their jobs and love friendly customers.
I may have neglected to note one thing, and that is cost: all cocktails are $14, which, if you have been out and about like I have, that is pretty damn good. The cost for entry and for playing the games is combined into the single fee, of FREE!
See you all in there, come and say hi to me on a Friday night as I intend, along with several of my companions, to call the Mana Bar our home away from home, and university.
For more info on the Mana Bar click here.