Reader Review: The Mana Bar

I haven't been to the Mana Bar yet. I'll have to remedy that at some point - but in the meantime I've got this review of the bar, by Jenn Christodoulou.

Jenn's a bit of success story for Reader Reviews - having secured freelance work writing on Hyper, through the quality of her Reader submitted work on Kotaku. Congratulations Jenn, well deserved!

Anways - on with the Reader Review!

The Mana Bar There once was a time where being called a gamer was an insult. You were a nerd, a geek, a friendless loser who would be 40 and still living in your mother’s basement. But these days, gamers wear these titles with pride. We are gamers. We are leet and we are smarter and cooler than everybody else. And yet, there are very few places where we can go to hang out all together. Until the creation of Yahtzee Croshaw’s Mana Bar in Brisbane. I gave that place a visit last week and was very pleased with what I found.

Loved Bathrooms: Yes, bathrooms. I’m not a fan of public bathrooms (who is?) but I found myself spending a lot of time in them at the bar, and not just because of the immense amount of Angel Islands I consumed. In the women’s bathroom there were cartoons of Princess Peach, Pikachu, and then a bunch of hilarious one-liners. I enjoyed them so much I sent my friend into the guy’s bathroom to take some photos. It’s totally not creepy.

People: Everybody in the bar was really friendly and outgoing. They all obeyed the house rules of the games so there was no hogging, and not too much gloating either. By the end of the night my friends and I had made a friend, spoken to some people, and made eye contact with everyone else. For a bunch of gamer nerds that’s quite the night of social contact.

Hated Music: The music at the bar wasn’t exactly bad but it just seemed like some of the DJ’s didn’t quite know what they were doing with the Mac sitting in front of them, which is fair enough since who does? While the music was interesting, it stopped and started a lot which really threw off the rhythm of the night.

Itty bitty: The bar was really small, and I’m talking incredibly small. On a Thursday night the crowd only consisted of about 20 people, and we were all squished in like sardines. Though I stopped caring once I got gaming, I can imagine that on a busier night it would be crowded to the point of claustrophobia.

I really loved my time at the Mana Bar. The room may be small, but it’s filled with alcohol and video games and crammed full of interesting, lovely people. It’s definitely going to be a place I visit again when I’m in Brisbane next, and I advise anybody with an opportunity to do so, to drop in some time. You won’t regret it (provided you still remember it the next morning).

Reviewed by Jenn Christodoulou


    This gave me a chuckle.

    I am shamed. I live about 20 mins away and have never been...

      What's your excuse? I obsessively check Mana Bar's Facebook feed for news on when they're opening a joint in Sydney...

        Well, at least Sydney is a candidate for a new Mana Bar. Perth, however...


        @ Elly

        Came into existence right around the time Tyler was born. I don't go out at all without him at my side anymore so these kind of place are off limits!

      I've checked it out, and I really really love it except for the aforementioned issue... size. It's goddamn tiny! Way too small in my opinion. I would be back there as often as possible if not for that. It's fairly off putting being that packed in with people...

    Want in Melbourne!

      There is one opening in Melbourne soon:

        I live a 3 minute walk from Brunswick St. Fitzroy. And I have to say, I really hope they don't put the bar on that street!

        On a Friday and Saturday night Brunswick St becomes littered with outer-suburban, pill-popping cro-mags. I try to steer clear of it on weekends, but when I have ended up there, I don't think there's been a time I haven't seen some roid-raging moron in a white shirt/singlet charging down the street breaking whatever he can (mostly car side mirrors.)

        Brunswick St is not what it used to be.

        If you guys are reading this and haven't fixed a location, put the bar on HIGH ST. NORTHCOTE!!

        It's much cruisier, but still has a lot of ppl going out to it's bars and restaurants.

          The location is 336 Brunswick St in Fitzroy.

          We wanted a location that was central and easy to get to, in a nightlife alternative area.

          I moved down just before New Years Eve, and so far I'm really happy with the atmosphere this area has. Keep in mind, the Mana Bar is open 7 nights a week, so we wanted an area that was active on even the most quiet Tuesday nights.

          Don't worry, the one in Brisbane is very central to the club scene also. Doesn't really make a huge difference.

      There's one due to be opening soon in Fitzroy. As of Monday it still doesn't have an opening date, but I'd guess within a month.

        Right then. As soon as it opens, we're organising a Kotaku AU Melbourne night!

          HELLS YEAH!

            Also, i'd be assuming Mark wouldn't be able to make the flight down.
            So i'd hope he'd at least be able to mail his pants to us so they could attend in his honor

          I'd go to that

    Yug's/Pras's/Yahtzee's Manabar. Mr wears-a-hat gets all the cred, yo.

      It warms my heart to see that, reguardless of how many hot new games are out and how often the Mana Bar rotates those new games around - Super Street Fighter 4 remains firmly slotted into its setup in the center of the bar.

        needs more blazblue if you ask me.

          Just ask, They've got vanilla behind the counter and will put on whatever is requested (unless it's super busy). However, My Tsubaki is superior to your Hazama.

    The funny part for me was that I skipped over the opening preamble and jumped straight to the loved/hated bit, so I missed the fact that the review wasn't actually written by Mark even though his name appears at the top of the article.

    So the first thing I read was that he loved spending as much time as possible in the bathrooms, specifically the ladies'.

    Good thing I went back and re-read the whole thing from the top - very slowly and carefully!

      hahahaha Brainss that is comedy gold there. classic Kotaku membershinping just reading the intresting stuff and assuming the rest. EPIC

    I went on a Saturday night awhile back and was speaking to the bouncer (since I was stuck waiting to get in). He said it's the best job he's had in the Valley. No fights and friendly customers. One time he had to tell a guy he had too much to drink and the guy simply apologised and left!

    My only complaint was the rum and coke, man I hate Inner Circle Rum!

      Goodness, imagine how people would behave if games didn't make them violent killers.

      Yeah the valley sure is something. At least where they are is a nice enough part of a night.

    ahaha hearing myself be called a "success story" sounds really weird. But thanks :D

    20 people? I would really love to see one of these in Melbourne as it sounds like a pretty fun place, but only being able to fit 20 people is a bit of a let down. I'm not expecting it to be a massive estabilishment with dance floors and multiple bars, but I can fit 20 people comfortably in my house, how small is this place?

      Its very small. But it's a bar, not a pub or a nightclub. And that makes it a manageable crowd as well, and forces you to interact with other people. I dont think a bigger Mana Bar would be better.

      really small, like smaller then my lounge room small.

        Good - means they probably won't be able to get Kinect set up in there, meaning less chance of the place getting overrun by the dreaded "casuals" :P

      Melbourne location is much bigger from what I've heard. I think there was mention of multiple rooms? Or at least an additional room. Brisbane Bar is about the size of your living room. Max Capacity is 50. I like the snugness - it gives the place a kind of 'house party' vibe.

        I've only ever seen a queue on Yahtzee's Trivia nights (I live around the corner).

        I would describe it more as a "oh I have no table to stand at, now I feel uncomfortable standing like a dork in the middle of the room" vibe myself.

      The DJ table that was set up that night was pretty big, and a friend of mine said that it might not always be there, giving room for at LEAST 2 more tables to be set up.

      But even so it is still sorta...tiny

        Yeah, you went on one of our 'chiptunes' nights. We don't usually have the stage setup in the middle of the room, and can comfortably fit up to 50 people in the venue.

    I'd agree with the review although I'm not a fan of any music you'd find in a bar so on the music side I'm not one to judge!

      The normal playlist consists of MC Christ, MC Fontalot, Chiptunes, nerdcore stuff. Good stuff, but it has been the same stuff for ages now. The DJ is only setup for special chiptune nights, which are few and far inbetween.

        It's certainly in theme but not my thing. I'm just a picky bastard who can't be pleased!

    Must go when I'm next in Brisbane.

    We need one in Sydney too.

      You already have everything else in Sydney, let Melbourne have one.

        Yeah because it's not like anybody ever opens anything in Melbourne.

        The only fair thing to do would be to open one here in Adelaide. Ahhh, who am I kidding - nobody would go even if they did open one here :P

          Word on the street is; after they finish the Melbourne and Sydney Mana Bars, they plan on doing the rest of Australia, including Adelaide.

    I am a local and I agree it's way too small. The initial photos on the web were deceiving, it looked heaps bigger. The night that I was there, it was so crowded that ppl using the wii-motes couldnt stand far enough away and they didnt work LOL

    Watch out for the Ponce with a Sonic Hoodie and a tendency to scream.

    Do you reckon I could pick up some hot gamer chicks there? I have practice talking all day to hot chicks online.

      Yeah man, heaps. Definitely. No problem. 10 hot gamer chicks. They're yours. Take them.

      You'll be picking up good looking men in no time. The Mana bar where its 99% dick.

        More like 70:30 and some of the girls are some other guys girl friend and some of the guys have like never spoken to a girl irl and are just there only drinking red bull and no actual alcohol so they can beat me at street fighter.

    Good review. Not sure about the music part though as there are rarely actual DJ's present except for special nights.

    If there was a DJ setup they would have been taking up much of the floor space so while it is a small venue it can be a little more open.

    As Spiritwolf mentioned music usually consists of nerdy stuff like nerdcore e.g. mc chris, MC Frontalot, Optimus Rhyme and various chiptunes. Not limited entirely to that though.

    I don't know how you could be a Kotaku reader in Brisbane and have not checked this place out yet.

    I remember I tried to get in there on trivia night; place was packed and the line wasn't moving much at all. Went to a few bars along that strip to pass the time and got in later with minimal fuss. But the place was absolutely packed. I like the small bar vibe, but I think maybe a tiiiiiny bit more space wouldn't hurt. It's kind of a cupboard. Here's hoping the Sydney bar is a bit more spacious...

    i think they made a very definite decision to go with a small place, less financial risk i would say.

    its not bad to go and check out.

    Mythbuster.... The music you were listening to was being created live in realtime on Nintebdo Gameboy's by creative musicians not DJ's... The starting and stopping was because one live act was finishing then the Mac laptop was there to play some backing music inbetween acts

      Live Chipmusic is not for everyone and is an experimental and emerging new artform the fact that mana bar give us access to their venue once a month (even if a few people like the reviewer dislike it) is very admirable and shows their willingness to support the entire geek community (not just straightup gamers).

    I would love to see a game bar open here in perth, maybe not specifically mana bar but something along the same lines maybe even better :)

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