Japanese arcades certainly have an aura about them. Theres an atmosphere inside that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s hard to duplicate, and harder to mesh into other, more profitable businesses. But they stand alone, fueled by an enormous population, late hours, and a what I would assume is a deeper gaming culture than my own. One of the main reasons I’m on this journey is because of my trip to Nagoya, Japan. I mean, I’ve been to arcades, and I’ve played video games, and obviously I had heard about Japanese arcades. I had heard about the multi-leveled buildings, with different games on every floor. But when you’ve taken your 5th escalator up and you’ve only just begun to hit the hardcore fighters, you’ve got to stop and think, “shit, I’ve still got 2 more floors to go.”
A lot of my research has been into what it would take to import some of those Japanese games over here. When I started it seemed impossible, and after everything I’ve learned it still seems pretty improbable. Older games are easy, anything out of date and under-utilized in their market is definitely up for grabs. The problem is that after 2010 a lot of new releases were through the NESiCAxLive program, which is sort’ve like a network where you download the games straight to the cabinet as opposed to buying the entire board and swapping it out. This sort’ve functions like DRM if you’re familiar, and makes it nearly impossible to play the games without a connection to the network. On top of this, Taito corporation makes about 30% of every play, so the game and its plays have to be accountable at all times. The hurtles of having a network connection and an agreement with Taito in place seem out of this world. But what else can I do?
Here’s some link’s to a couple of the games that I was really excited to try and bring over here to America. Some of these are already here, some fall under the umbrella of network-connected games. Obviously alot of its in Japanese, although I was studying it was still pretty hard for me to catch onto any of the spoken audio in the arcades. I was never put off by this, I liked learning the game purely through the gameplay.
Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost
This is a pretty sweet 2v2 style fighter. You and your friend both sit at adjacent cabinets and start a game against AI, choosing your path and fighting harder Gundams. The real fun starts once anyone sits down at the cabinets that are opposite your teams. The games are all linked and once they enter the game it becomes a 2 on 2 battle, the winner picks up the AI game where the loser left off.
This one might be even more fast paced than Gundam Vs. It functions very similarly to Battlefield in the sense that you have 4 classes; A heavy, an Assault, an Engineer, and a Sniper. The difference is that you’re a mech (infinitely cooler). The game play is very objective based, huge maps, points to capture, people to kill. You might be having a hard time understanding how you even play this game at an arcade cabinet. Take a look at the control panel.
This arcade machine is basically a glorified PC. You have a fixed position joystick on the left, with a movable thumbstick (your movement), there are 2 triggers for weapons. On the right you’ve got a mouse that controls your view, aim, and weapon swapping. This game absolutely swept me off my feet, one of the most fun multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had behind an arcade machine.
Super Table Flip
Another beautiful example of how dramatically different can be just what the arcade needs. In Super Table Flip you choose a family member, say the overworked father figure and you hulk out on your dinner table as your wife and kids nag you slowly to death until you can’t take it any longer and flip the table in their faces. This games a blast, language barrier isn’t an issue because we all speak ‘mad-as-hell’.
Obviously the song chosen is an extreme example of this game. You don’t have to play it this hardcore. But its basically DDR for your fingers. Pretty self-explanatory.
Taiko no Tatsujin or Taiko Drum Master
Another rhythm and beat game. Deceptively simple and a really easy game to walk up to without any previous experience. This is another extreme example of the gameplay but probably the best video at the moment. You can play together with a friend on the second drum.
Lord of Vermilion 2
So I don’t actually want this game. But it’s such a great example of the direction some developers explored to keep arcades alive. If you play Magic the Gathering then you’d probably love this game. I chose this video so you could see some of the cabinet. You buy your decks or booster packs from the arcade, then head over the machines to play the cards on a touch sensitive play field, all the while watching your cards come to live on the screen.
Darius Burst EX
I’m a sucker for aerial shooter games. This one is actually one of the easier to acquire due to its popularity. Its a huge cabinet, and up to 4 players can join a game. There are 2 linked screens. Never gotten to play this one, just had it on my bucket list for a while.
Here are a few others to look up if you’ve got the bug.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva
Well that’s it for now. I was thinking about all this because the Japanese Amusement Expo is February of next year. If I can save enough money between now and then I might go on a field trip and see if I can track some answers down to my distribution dilemma, at the very least make some new friends and see some new games.
Here’s some highlights from last years Expo, some of the games they were talking about still haven’t been released.