Any self-respecting Otaku’s first stop when visiting Akiba is going to be one of two things: Animate, or Arcades.
You should be wary of visiting Japanese arcades. Why? Because Japanese Arcades will forever change your perception of what a good arcade is.
Here are the facts: Western arcades suck. Hard. They used to be the best of the best back in the 80s when arcades were mainstream and all the cool kids went there. Hell, they were even central to one of the best scenes in Terminator, and don’t forget about how badass Flynn’s arcade was in Tron.
The problem is that western arcades never evolved. They were slow to buy new machines and charged more and more for the privilege until it was far cheaper to play games on a home console than it was in the arcade.
Some of this can be attributed to the fact that home consoles exploded into popularity during the 90s, but how then did Japanese arcades continue to thrive despite this?
I believe the answer is in exclusive titles that are arcade-only. Popular fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken have far more difficult arcade versions of their popular console titles, usually released much earlier than the console versions.
These versions of the games also give you the choice of playing as extra arcade-only characters, which provides new challenges to face and new movesets to learn. Over here though we never got these arcade versions, so when we went looking for our next fix what were we going to chooose?
The original Virtua Fighter’s blocktastic graphics? A heavily worn DDR machine with a green screen? Or the latest and greatest video games on consoles we already own? I think the answer’s pretty self-explanatory. That’s why arcades suck in the west, there are just no good games in them anymore.
I think it’s high time for an arcade revolution. We need the latest arcade machines from Japan, and the kind of environment gamers _want_ to be in, not a crappy room with dirty carpets solely designed to fleece parents out of their hard-earned cash so their three-year-olds can win a few tickets.
Why don’t we have booths with computers we can play the latest online games on? Where’s the huge floor filled with Gundam simulators?
Yeah – Western arcades suck. Next time you want to find a real arcade, you know where to go.