A couple days ago I went out with my JET coworkers to Nanba to just wander and eat. It ended up not being the greatest experience because I felt a bit left out. It wasn’t their fault, there just happens to be a lot more girls in our building than boys. The girls mostly talked about girly things which I obviously can’t relate to. I suppose this is when my first bout of isolation kicked in. They stopped at H&M for awhile to shop for things and this is when I decided to just separate from them as I was starving and I just wasn’t feeling comfortable feeling lonely the entire time. I took a few pictures on the Dotonbouri Bridge before I took off:
The river was relaxing to watch but I was getting too hungry and depressed, so I decided to get some food. I instantly felt better as I wandered off. After getting some food, I decided to go to Den Den Town and wander around a bit as I didn’t really get a chance last time. As I was heading over there though, I saw one of many huge arcades and realized I hadn’t really visited any of them. I never had the chance because whenever I was in Nanba, I was with a group that probably wouldn’t like to be at an arcade for long. I was reminded when I was talking to Andrew about arcades in general and how I missed their presence in the U.S. He didn’t really have any around him as a kid and I started to talk to him about my history with them. There was the arcade at Har Mar which my brother and I went to a lot. As I grew up and was in middle school and high school, the Har Mar arcade went kaput and I went to the arcade in Rosedale Mall. After that died out, I went to Maplewood Mall and that’s when my friends and I got into the Initial D game a lot. I was a high school graduate and about to enter college at this point. That led going to the MoA and racing against other people, even wandering to WI once. There was also Gameworks, which I frequented a lot during my college days until it closed down a few years ago. Now I’ll only go to the arcades during the State Fair. Overall, I probably went on about my history with arcades for 20 minutes or so. I had no idea they were a part of my life that much until I started talking!
Anyways, I usually went to an arcade to cheer myself up or if I was bored. Seeing I was on my own, it would be the perfect opportunity to check the ones around Nanba. My first stop was Taito Station:
I am still not used to arcades having multiple floors. Having 6 floors of games blew my mind. Here was the floors were organized in Taito Station:
Basically each floor had a different genre of games. The first floor had UFO catchers (aka the crane game), and the rest seems self-explanatory. I worked my way up:
I had heard of Metal Gear Arcade but I was surprised to see what it really was. It was basically a shooter; you could do training courses or go against a team of people. The game was in 3D so you had to wear glasses. Huge cabinet, but I didn’t think it was too impressive. I miss the old Metal Gear.
Initial D was also present on the floor. I tried it once and it felt very odd….turning your car was insanely easy to do. It didn’t feel the same! I basically played it for the nostalgic factor and to see how different it was from th previous version I used to play as. It could’ve been worse though.
The craziest game I have seen so far is a Gundam game where you enter a pod and control a Gundam in a huge battlefield, battling other players. You have to pay 400 yen just to play the damn thing but it looks awesome. You even get a monitor on the outside so people can watch the game. Here’s the pod:
And here’s the monitor for people to spectate:
The music floor was pretty clear; it was just a bunch of rhythm games that didn’t really interest me, mainly because they are really hardcore. The online card game floor had a bunch of arcades were people would use virtual decks to play against each other. I never got into card games but it looked very interesting. I finally went up to the “video game” floor:
The video game floor was basically fighting games and a a variety of other games that couldn’t be categorized in the other floors. The way fighting games are set up here is that instead of two people playing on the same cabinet, there is a separate cabinet across from you where the second player would play. I’m guessing they do this so it doesn’t seem as confrontational (the Japanese aren’t really into it). Oh, and all games have seats, which is cool. There are a lot of anime-based fighting games which I guess is somewhat popular here. I only know of Melty Blood; I guess the picture above has characters from various hentai games. Oh, Japan.
I didn’t get a chance to play Melty Blood though because it’s always fucking occupied :(. I have a feeling though the second I sit down and insert 100 yen, someone will challenge and rape me. I decided to leave and head to the next nearby arcade…Sega’s!:
Sega’s arcade had a similar layout except the setting was a bit classier than Taito’s. I accidentally wandered into the basement area which mostly had this one game based on the Warring States period in Japan. You controlled one army and took on the other except you would use your hand and hovered it over a flat panel (which represented the battlefield) to move your troops. Certain officers had crazy moves that would take out a ton of people. It looked really fun, I might have to try to figure it out sometime:
Going upstairs, I notice a Hatsune Miku machine. Japan is obsessed with this character; I never realized she was going to be a huge hit. Vocaloid is interesting though. It’s interesting that it wasn’t just guys waiting in line to play this but girls as well:
I knew Evangelion was milked to death but I really didn’t see the extent of it until I arrived in Japan. Sega’s arcade is no different:
Sega definitely had the superior selection when it came to fighting games. They basically had all the Street Fighter games next to each other, from the original Street Fighter II to Super Street Fighter 2. Then I saw Street Fighter Alpha 3, 3rd Strike and 4: Arcade Edition. It was really cool to see new and old games combined and still in use. This also applied to the non-fighting games around the floor. I would see old school top down shooters like Raiden, beat em ups like Dunegons and Dragons and other random games. It was quite awesome. Here’s a picture of some Street Fighter games next to each other:
My last stop was Athena, Namco’s arcade:
It was a bit less nice-looking than the other ones but it was still a cool arcade. They had a floor dedicated to the Gundam game, if that tells you anything about their love for Gundam. It basically had the same games as the other ones with one huge exception:
That’s right, it had Love Plus. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s basically about getting a girlfriend and hanging out with her. That’s it. Every day counts as hanging out with your girl so you would see people turning on their DS and taking their “girlfriend” to various places. Eventually they made an arcade version and I honestly don’t want to know what you do in this one. No one was playing these games so perhaps that is a good sign…? Oh here’s a picture of the music floor for those who care:
After Athena, I was too tired to do anything else and decided to take off. Overall, the arcades were awesome compared to the stuff back home. My favorite thing is that you see every kind of person at an arcade as opposed to nerds/geeks. I saw middle school kids, salarymen, hot chicks kicking ass in fighting games as their boyfriends cheer them on, etc. You would not get that image at home. I will have to drag one of my game-oriented friends one of these days and try out everything. The funny thing is I just checked out the games in Den Den town, there are plenty of other ones in Namba. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to talk much in this post and it ended up being one of the longest ones so far. God damn I’m a nerd, and I love it.