Electric Town: An Akihabara Arcade Experience - Part II
This is the Electric Town: An Akihabara Arcade Experience - Part II piece that I wrote for The Luchazine (October 7th, 2010 edition of Issue #5) that was never released. I'm only including a small image of the design (done by JohnRabbit) this time, as the text included isn't final. You can read the full article below! You can read Part I in the fourth issue of The Luchazine.
Waking up at 5 AM, I was too excited to go back to sleep. Yesterday's experience at GiGO arcade left me wanting more, so I made a list of all the greatest arcades in the Akihabara area, including Club Sega and Taito HEY.
My worries of spending more time trying to find these places than actually playing the games in them were instantly alleviated. Turning the first corner after exiting Akihabara Station, I saw this in the distance:
Much like GiGO before it, Club Sega is a six-level arcade that continues the apparent pattern of having the first floor dedicated solely to claw games. Passing by some Hatsune Miku gear and Mickey Mouse pillows, I headed downstairs to B1, only to stand stunned at what I saw next.
"This is what I've been looking for this whole time." I thought to myself. In front of me were twenty-five Virtua Fighter 5 R machines and twenty Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion machines. The best part of all was that this place was packed—if someone wasn't in the middle of a furious battle, they were standing around watching matches. Trying my hand at Virtua Fighter 5 R and failing miserably (a series I am most familiar with via capsule toys in Shenmue), I purchased a Tekken-Net ID card and headed to the back corner of the room. My brother had been fighting this one guy for a while, and I decided to see how I would fare against him. As I sat down, I slid the overflowing ash tray to my side—apparently, people smoke a lot more when playing fighting games—and inserted my card. His Steve and my Hwoarang fought for quite some time, and regardless of how close I came, I just couldn't beat him. I guess that's the problem when you rarely play fighting games and then go to a Japanese arcade.
Coming to the conclusion that I would probably never win and not wanting to waste anymore of my precious 100 yen coins, I headed up to the 2nd floor. If B1 was the fighting floor, than this was the racing floor. Eight Initial D: Arcade Stage 5, four R-Tuned: Ultimate Street Racing, and eight Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX Plus machines took up the majority of the floor space. However, it seemed like most of the people there were far more interested in playing Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade, even if it meant having to stand in a roped-off line for a while. Not in the mood for racing or waiting in line for twenty minutes, I played another rhythm-based game where you hit giant buttons called pop'n music. A 1998 game by Konami that was updated earlier this year with new songs, you select your difficulty by choosing whether to play with five or nine buttons (insanity!). Most of the music was unfamiliar to me, though I did do pretty well when it came to the themes of Gradius and Kill Bill. Another rhythm-based game on this floor was Taiko no Tatsujin 13, which you may be familiar with as "that drum game" from Lost in Translation (though that was an earlier version). I watched a few gaijin play it for future reference (foreshadowing!) and scaled the stairs up to the third floor.
Another room packed with people and fighting games, there was a lot of variety to choose from here. You had your choice of playing: Sengoku Basara X, The King of Fighters 2002, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Arcana Heart 3, Melty Blood, Guilty Gear XX Λ Core, The King of Fighters XIII, and Street Fighter IV. It was, to say, complete madness. Getting my ass kicked once again (my Terry Bogard just wasn't strong enough), I went up to the fourth floor to experience even more craziness.
With the exception of the wildly out-of-place Power Smash 3 machines (tennis!), this floor was nothing but seemingly complicated-ass mech games, mostly from the Gundam franchise. Satisfied at being able to grasp Gundam far better than Cyber Troopers, I progressed up the final set of stairs to the fifth floor of Club Sega, only to lay eyes upon one of the greatest arcade setups I have ever seen. Imagine eight players, all with their own arcade cabinets, controlling and managing their football players via collectible trading cards and then seeing the results of their actions on a 100-inch plus screen in front of them which is showcasing the match as if it were a live football broadcast. World Club Champion Football Intercontinental Clubs 2008-2009 must be what Football Manager fans have wet dreams about. I know I would if I were into these types of games.
World Club was so awesome, in fact, that I nearly missed the Shining Force Cross machines. However, due to the awesomeness of the game (it being one of my favorite things I played in all of Tokyo), this author has decided to do a separate feature on it in issue #6.
Leaving the complex in a wave of euphoria, I went in search of Taito HEY wondering if my experience at Club Sega could hope to be matched.
Obviously, there won't an issue #6 of The Luchazine, but I will continue this series in blog format.