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: Manabar Grand Opening Night

Brisbane, Australia has had a lot of big projects taking place lately such as the Clem 7, one of the most advanced tunnels for inner city traffic, but nothing had got me so excited as the opening of the Manabar, the first video game bar in Australia. When I first started Donkeygamer a uni mate of mine told me to keep an eye on australiangamer.com as he worked with one of the guys and I kept visiting for a while and when I saw they got approval for a video game bar my eyes lit up more than they did when I unwrapped my Super Nintendo in Christmas of 93. My love for going to a place to have a few drinks and relax with some good people has been a bit hard as of late as the truly great places of Brisbane such as the beloved Alley bar at Milton are long gone. But as I will explain I think this void is now gone and adding video games to the mix has really made me excited.




This is the line after 1 hour and a half and our spirts were still high.

This wouldn’t really be a review if I didn’t talk about the actual “bar” aspects. The staff were nothing short of amazing and I really hope they can keep up the vibe they give to the bar. Gabe the security guy made everyone feel at home and made sure people knew if they didn’t make the dress code so they had time to go change and still be able to get in. I waited in line for almost 2 and ½ hours and food outlets were actually taking orders at the line which is something I have never seen before. I must say a big thank you to Lisa and Jason who I met in the line which offered some pretty cool conversion with me and my mate Jimmy which made the wait entertaining.




Guitar Hero near the fresh air, getting some crazy scores.

The pricing of drinks is often the mood killer of most bars. I felt they were most reasonable. $7 for JD and coke on a Prime night is good value in my eyes when there isn’t any cover charge. They offer your usual selection of drinks, mind you the beer was rather lacking. I don’t think people will like only one choice of beer, but hey I could be wrong. Something I haven’t seen anywhere else is JD slushies.  For years I’ve been going to 7/11, saying “how awesome would it be to have JD in a Slurpee and these are very well priced at $6. Usually I wouldn’t go near cocktails but when they name them after games... how could I possibly say no to an “Ocarina of lime”. After trying a couple of these I was pretty surprised how good they were! The bar staff particulary Cormac was running at 110% and handling all the drinks with ease (at least it looked that way).




Ocarina of lime in all it's glory and yes I had 2 :D


I must admit I had my doubts about the concept. I didn’t think having free games and having expensive gaming controllers around tables in a small venue would work but I was proven very wrong. The controllers are cabled to the tables, which reminded me of the old Big W demo stations where you could play in store. The games have house rules, such as “loser lets someone else play” depending on what game is on rotation at the time and from what I witnessed everyone was very willing to stick to the rules. Sure there is bound to be a few people to break this but yeah the percentage valued the rules. There was a few times where I was just enjoying a drink and just wanting to watch others play and said no to having a go when asked and it was nice to see people were still asking others if they wanted a go.




One of the cool people I met on the night. Michael came all the way from Armidale, NSW. Now that's dedication!


Another doubt I had, was thinking they would only have games on that they either had some sort of obligation or favour to publishers that let them have an early peak into a game. But I was proven wrong yet again. I have to be honest here, I thought the game Raskulls would be a game just taking up space due to the quick screen shots I had seen and I had the mentality that it would be better suited to have the TV for a game like Mario Kart. But out of all of the games I played I only really cared about Raskulls. The game is unreleased and is actually locally made in Brisbane which is amazing to see something so fresh and new. I won’t spoil the surprise for others but think 2D Mario kart platforming with elements of Tetris and Digger. Expect a review of that when it goes final.




Raskulls, 4 player fun, winner stays on


The atmosphere was amazing. When I went off to the bar and get in line for yet another drink, I was listening to the music and then I realised they were playing tunes by Pixel8! This blew me away as this was the first chiptune artist we really started talking to back in the early days of  Donkeygamer back in late 06. From then on I thought, “This is my new home”. I was walking back to see what my mate Jimmy was doing and he was actually playing Fifa with Junglist ex Good Game fame. I wasn’t sure if Jimmy actually realised who he was playing Fifa with but he did and was a bit star struck like I was. We just had to get our photos taken.




Jimmy with Junglist in the more traditional pose.

The Manabar has to be one of my most favouritte places on the planet. Don’t think of that statement as an advert for the place, but as a point of view from someone who honestly believes that. To the owners behind this, you have done a fantastic job making somewhere where I feel at home when I’m away from home, well done!

Ranted by Doug
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