Tuesday, February 15, 2011

JAPAN: Arcades++

Darius Burst-
Sort of space fish themed shooter. Uses two screens. Hmm, not much to say about this one, to be honest I didn't play it more than once.

Lords of Vermillion 2.
An arcade style collectible card game. Looks kind of like a Japanese WOW from the outset. Great graphics and sound. Even though I can speak and read Japanese ok these games are kind of beyond me. They're quite popular machines though. Again, goes with the Japanese trend of keeping people down playing for hours and hours down the game center.

Electronic Darts.
Now we're talking. Me and a buddy must've spent every evening in 2008 playing these little suckers in the darts bar over here. If I was ever asked to choose a Japanese product abroad I felt would make me a million quid exported it would probably be Japanese electronic darts. Why?
These are so much fun, the boards are made of pins that pick up with extreme accuracy where your darts land. Everything is done via the computer- no more writing on a chalkboard and arguing with your mates about your bad sums, these babies take care of all of it for you. You can choose from about a zillion different darts games and their variations, Count Up, Cricket, even some unique ones like MyLand (or was it MyCountry), where the winner is the one who gets the most Japanese prefectures (represented by numbers) converted to his colour.

Personalise your darts in the shop. Customise your flights, use thin shafts or heavy shafts (not a sexual pun), etc. Plus you can always buy a beer and play doubles with a couple of nice chicks you meet there too.
Another cool thing is, like most arcade machines in Japan these days, you can link up to a national network and play against people anywhere else in Japan. So even when you're alone in the bar, you can still play with real people.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

JAPAN: Arcades

Taito Station- One of the bigger game centers where I live. 5 floors. Got every type of game under the sun here; UFO Catcher's (claw crane machines), photo-booth Purikura (obviously more popular with the ladies), Retro Classics coin-ops(Final Fight, Super Mario,
etc), Guitar Hero-type games, RPG card-based games, Gun games, coin challenge games, man, just anything and everything, some of which I'll go more into detail below.

(Free candyfloss on the door at weekends)

This place obviously also has a TON of the latest games and their linked units, some of which you'll never see abroad. Competitions are held here and you can be quite the local hero if you win a Super Street Fighter 4 tournament. Some players are fiercely good though, as you'd expect this being the gaming hub of the world- so don't bank on ever winning unless you spend most of your life practicing online.
The place is totally packed out all the time, nothing like mild UK arcades.

Metal Gear Arcade-

New on the scene Metal Gear Arcade utilises some of the cool 3d technology we've been seeing everywhere these days- you wear the specs while you play, just like at the movies. This really adds to the gameplay. The game is kind of just an amalgamation of MGO elements and even features the same maps. You buy credits with real money, play missions or do vs online or neighbour link-up. The more money you throw in the better and longer levels you can play. You can customise your character just like MGO but you need to register to do it. Not sure if you've actually buy a card (like some games) or you just choose a unique number on the machine, but anyway once you've got your character saved you can level up and get on the national rankings system.
First impression- nothing like other gun games. The gun controller is very sophisticated and has about a dozen different buttons and switches, along with a PS3 thumb-stick that governs movement. Although I do love MGO the arcade version is hard to get to grips with at first, and the amount of controls are simply overwhelming. That being said I've been trying to persevere with this one and I'm starting to see it's brilliance. The coolest thing about the game is clearly the 3D, which in combination with putting it on first-person mode amps the intensity up big time. The screen moves with your head too, a sweet little control method, this game brings you closer to being in a real war than any other FPS I've played.
Negatives-I think Konami are really throwing the challenge out there for casual arcade gamers to invest a lot of time and money in this game and frankly I'm not sure it's going to hit off with anyone except for hardcore MGO guys like myself. The staggering amount of info you have to get through just to get into the game first time takes some perseverance indeed.
That being said sometimes these things take time to warm up, and besides the trend over here for Japanese gamers these days is moving towards arcade games that you're never done with after 5 minutes. I wonder if Konami aren't killing off their audience with the excessively complex cabinet, but either way I'm not quite done with this one yet, I sense that it's going to pick up in popularity once people start giving it a chance.