Japan’s late-night arcade scene is a bust

imoto arcade hits japan

By Imoto Arcade

So right now I am visiting family in Japan, my yearly trip, but meanwhile, I’ve been creating a mini-series about the current look at arcade culture in Japan right now. It seems like every year the arcades slightly change out here from the type of games that are most popular. In the States, our arcades and family fun centers stay pretty consistent with its theme, but Japan is always updating their games and switching them out. I just posted my first episode online, which was honestly kind of a bust, but shows the fact that arcade culture out here is no longer a late-night experience.

This trip was primarily supposed to be vacation, so I left all of my real gear at home… but then I really just couldn’t keep myself from producing content, so all of this is done on my iphone haha. (NOT TO MENTION THAT THIS IS THE ONLY PLAUSIBLE WAY OF GETTING THIS CONTENT… they have a pretty strict no camera policy at all of these places, so unless I got actual approval from SEGA/TAITO/ETC, I’d stick out like a sore thumb with any other camera.)

The arcade scene in Tokyo, Japan never dwindles, but before you blame jet-lag for sleeping in until 3pm during your trip, know that ALL arcades in Akihabara, Japan’s Electric Town, close by midnight!! I found this out the hard way as I hit up my first arcade of this series, H.E.Y. Arcade by Taito, only to hear their haunting “we’re closing G.T.F.O.” song pierce my ears. Briefly I was able to check out a few of the floors on their 5-floor tower. From the expected mass amounts of UFO catchers, to classic candy cabs with all of our old school favorites, to a slew of new online gaming machines, H.E.Y. Arcade has left my eyes blood-shot and craving for more. Don’t wake up TOO early though, because these establishments don’t open until 11AM!!

This “season’s” series will include*:
-Sega Arcades in Akihabara
-Taito’s Arcades in Akihabara
-Joypolis in Odaiba (hoping to find pinball there, going today, please cross your fingers for me!)
-Arcades beyond Electric Town
-The infamous Kawasaki Underground Arcade
-The new VR experience arcade opening on April 15th
-Anything I find in the countryside near where my grandparents live (Suhara village)
*All of these episodes will be posted throughout April and May.

Next year I plan on hitting up, …so far:
-Silver Ball Planet (giant pinball museum/arcade in Osaka)
-Japanese Game Museum
-Osaka Arcade Scene (since it’s actually very different than Tokyo’s)
…and more!

What’s hot in Japanese arcades right now? Virtual Fighter 5, arcade games that are very similar to League of Legends with online battle mode, and collector card-integrated games. (Imagine using Magic the Gathering cards with sensors in them paired to an arcade machine to have real time battles.)

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