The Aussie Trying To Revive Melbourne’s Initial D Scene

The Aussie Trying To Revive Melbourne’s Initial D Scene
Image: Supplied

The golden age of arcades might have passed in Australia, but that hasn’t stopped one gamer from trying to revive one beloved arcade community back: Initial D.

The Initial D arcade machines aren’t new to Australia: if you lived around one of the bigger urban areas, there’s a chance you might have seen one or two of the anime-inspired racing cabinets in your local arcade. But as Melbourne Initial D 8 Player Base Facebook group founder James Imani explained, Australia stopped getting fresh Initial D cabinets after Initial D 3.

“I used to play Initial D3 here in Melbourne back when it was popular and really enjoyed the atmosphere and the competitive nature of having people go head to head down Japans famous mountain tracks,” Imani said over email.

“I then moved onto Maximum Tune since Sega didnt bring another iteration of Initial D after version 3 and so Maximum Tune was the next best thing, but it just wasn’t the same. The magic Initial D had was just missing,” he wrote.

Imani travelled to Japan earlier this year, witnessing the much more vibrant arcade scene firsthand. Inspired to bring that scene back home, Imani reached out to gamers through forums and sub-reddits to try and crowdfund the shipment of two Initial D 8 Infinity cabinets to Melbourne.

But after struggling to garner the necessary support, Imani opted to cover everything himself: $10,000 for the cabinets, another $3000 for shipping and import/customs fees, with an extra $2000 for the cards (which SEGA don’t manufacture anymore) that save player data.

Image: Supplied

Here’s a shot of the machines being unloaded:

Image: Supplied
And a shot of the internal card reader, with Imani says “took a lot of work” to fix:

Image: Supplied
Getting the cabinets to Australia was all well and good, but they needed a home as well. Imani contacted some of the remaining arcades around Melbourne, and eventually got the OK from laser tag/arcade venue Darkzone (in Melbourne’s Box Hill) to have the Initial D cabinets hosted there.

A shot of the cabinets in Box Hill’s Darkzone, which are playable now.

Initial D8 was never given a Western release, so the cabinets are still in Japanese. Imani helped put together an English reference guide, walking users through all the initial select screens and lobby menus through to the racing.

“[I] thought to myself that the once vibrant Initial D community that we had in Melbourne didn’t have a chance to continue to survive,” Imani said.

The public Facebook group has around 120 members right now. It might not be the same as back in the day, but thanks to Imani’s efforts, the local Initial D arcade scene has gotten a second lease of life.


  • We’re thrilled to have Initial D here at Darkzone. I’m the manager here and even I used to play Initial D back in the day. I’ve already got myself a card with a S2000 and have been sneaking in games.
    If you’re after any pics, let me know!

    Jamie @ Darkzone.

  • Any good arcade was importing Japanese versions of the game – I know we did and we installed versions WAY beyond D3

    Back then, no one waited for official “western” releases when the second-hand cabinets that were excess stock from Japan or HK were much much cheaper

    And Sega would send us new kits, regardless of the fact we werent in Japan

  • Slightly off topic – There might be another arcade golden age sooner than you think. I manage a VR arcade in Adelaide and we are starting to get some good business. It keeps building and there are heaps opening around the world. VR really suits the arcade environment, the games are often easy to learn, hard to master, a dedicated space is fantastic, and it gets past one of the big perceived issues with VR – that it is too isolating. We just ran a Beat Saber tournament night and it was a great fun social evening. Who knows where this will lead but right now it seems to be working and gathering momentum.

  • I’ll have to go check it out. I’m in my 30s but never got a chance to place arcade games much as a kid due to living in a rural area. Since moving to Melbourne I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money lol) at a few arcades and gaming bars around the city.

  • Probably should have investigated using Teknoparrot rather than splashing 15k….

    That being said, happy to tip my hat to the effort and love shown.

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