by Bryce Marley
It's a business that has faded away in many parts of the world, however in Japan the arcade is thriving. You will find them in most towns, and they aren't anything like the ones from your childhood. Today we're showing you the world of the Japanese arcade, and where to find some of the best around Japan.
If you're from Australia you may remember a place from your childhood called "Timezone", which, although mostly extinct now, was this amazing place filled with arcade games, and more. You were the cool kid if your parents let you have your party there, however the fad of game arcades faded in Australia, and the USA, UK and more, with the onslaught of consoles that connected straight to your TV.
In many western countries like America and Australia gaming is popular, however in the media it is still seen negatively, and is generally viewed as a time waster and can motivate violent and anti-social behavior. Many believe this is a key factor to the dying of the traditional arcade. Japan, on the other hand, has embraced gaming, and promotes and encourages those who enjoy it.
The arcades are run by entrepreneurial sole traders, up to giant gaming corporations. Taito in particular operate countless arcades, and are hugely popular. A walk down the main strip of Akihabara and you will find several Sega operated arcades -- in fact, Sega has its own indoor theme park dedicated to Sega and all things gaming in Odaiba.
Visiting and playing a game at an arcade is one of the most popular recreational pastimes for many Japanese, along with visiting movie theatres and karaoke bars, as a place to hang out with friends and relax. They can be found in most towns and in larger cities, some areas have them on every block.
Japanese arcades are piled full with the latest games, and, unlike many at home, they all are 'working' and have all the controls in tact! You will still find the classics of years past, and the machines will be in a like-new condition as well! Need assistance? Attendants are always around and more than happy to help you.
The setup of a Japanese arcade is quite unique, and most arcades that you will encounter are several stories of a building, with each floor is dedicated to specific gaming genre.
Lets take a look at some of the games you might encounter at a Japanese arcade
Okay so here is your entrance point, and the selling floor to get people into the arcade, so you're going to find lots of crowd pleasers luring everyone in with bright lights and sounds.
Here is where you find everyones favourite prize games, claw machines with all kinds of crazy prizes -- from stuffed toys, anime figurines, pillows, to live crabs, PS4's and everything in between. You must try your like at a few of them, the more unique the prize the better!
You will also find lines of capsule toy machines, to collect from, as well as many of the latest rhythm games.
- Japlanning Pro Tip - here at Japlanning, we have an unwritten initiation ritual of calling a battle with new team members on Taiko no Tatsujin (Taiko: Drum Master), and you should definitely give it a try too. Taiko: Drum Master just can't be missed for a highly addictive and fun game!
One of Japan's favourite genres of games is the rhythm game. In many larger arcades, you may find an entire floor, or even floors, dedicated to these games. Be sure to try out many of them! Japanese rhythm games are on another level of high-tech immersive fun!
Plus, try not to have fun with amazing J-Pop tunes blazing at you!
Up on the next level or two you will find a mix of crowd pleasers, incredibly unique arcade machines, some classics, as well as half the floor or more being taken up by Photo Booths.
The Photo Booth, or as they are known in Japan, 'Purikura', are something you will have seen before, however in comparison, Japanese ones are on steroids. You enter the booth and will find a white bench or just a large room of green, and the touch screen lights up and welcomes you. Soon enough, you're shoving yen into the slot and going through picking themes, photo shop elements and posing. Following your shoot, you get to virtually give yourself plastic surgery to achieve hilarious results.
- Japlanning Pro Tip - TRY THEM!
Here is also where you will usually find some of the more unique games you will never see outside Japan. Perhaps you have had the dream to be a Shinkansen Captain, well they have that covered. Wanted to simulate running in the olympics? Step right up! Always wanted to jump onto a arcade machine for typing, they have you covered. Japan is home to the remedial task simulator game, and you will usually find a few around any arcade in the first few floors.
You will also find many car racing games lined up like the excellent Mario Kart Arcade, and more in the first few floors.
Disclaimer - Now, this is a generalisation, so don't think to to explore the upper floors, as you will still find some amazing games, and unique ones you won't find anywhere else.
Okay so onto the higher floors. As a general rule, you will find the higher up the floors the more serious the games are. That is, you are going to find the die hard games up here occupying rows of seemingly identical machines.
These are all button, joystick games, think fighter games like Street Fighter, as well as other games, like football and even mahjong. You will find fighting games face to face, so no need to cramp all of your opponents to the one screen, no no, you each get your own machine to annihilate each other on. The lights aren't as bight up here, but this is where your finding the die hard gamers doing what they do best: high scores!
- Japlanning Pro Tip - If you consider yourself a bit of a skilled gamer, especially at fighters: don't be shy! Jump on and give it ago. You can usually navigate your way through a Japanese menu to the main event, and if not just wave down an attendant to help.
Now another must stop while in many arcades (especially Sega ones) for them men is the bathroom! Yes you read that right, here you will find urinal games! Mounted above each urinal is an LCD with a game that actually measures your, um, disposal, as part of a game! Simply amazing, and hilarious!
Arcades in Japan are alive and thriving, it's a technicolor hyper dream where all your senses are assaulted and you can easily lose hours without even noticing. The best part: you won't even regret it. A visit just to experience the world of the arcade in Japan is worth it to any visitor from abroad, to see how the gaming culture in Japan is embraced and encouraged is fascinating to watch even without putting in any yen.