I have recently spent my time in what can only be described as an absolute paradise for gamers, anime fans and tech lovers. As an Otaku (nerd) myself, the two weeks I have spent wandering round Japan have been absolute heaven. I have climbed five mountains, sailed across a vast lake on a pirate ship (pretending to be One Piece protagonist Monkey D Luffy) eaten an egg that’s been boiled in boiling water heated by a volcano and of course, drooled over all the gaming goodies on show in the various towns and cities I went to. But enough of my heroic adventure! Lets talk games. I suppose I should do this chronologically seeing as there’s quite a lot!
Lets start with Osaka! Where it all began I suppose.
Feeling like a small fish in a very big pond; my best friend Daniel and I ventured out on a stroll to check out the local area and maybe get a bowl of ramen. Not even five minutes out the door, we were surrounded by loud noises, flashing lights, the smell of food and an amazing sight of multi story arcades. Only then did it really hit me that we had finally made it here.
Our first port of call; Mario Kart. Nothing special or anything you’d only find in Japan, but it was our natural instinct to start with something familiar. To my amazement I won. I didnt think I would beat Dan who is a bigger gamer than me, he even works at Game. After playing a few games we had a look round the arcade to see how they do things over here. To our surprise we found that there are games for all kinds of people. There were of course games like Tekken and retro games like PAC-Man, there were also games for card collectors. One of which was a football game where players collect their own football cards to carry around with them and use in this game and possibly the outside world. It was genius to me! You can select your own team, put each one in a slot depending on position and use them on screen. We didn’t get to see any actual game play as we didn’t have our own cards and there was no one there to demonstrate it to us. My guess was either a turn based on screen card game or like football manager, only your choice in players is more tactile.
Ok, now for something you’ll only hear about in Japan for sure. My friend Daniel punched a dinosaur. I’m being super serial! There is a game in Japan with a punch bag that takes hits and converts them onto screen. You can select your enemy, dinosaurs, King Kong, robots and aliens. Daniel punched the skin off a T-Rex’ face!
The second day in Osaka was spent sightseeing ended with another evening of arcades and a bar we found over the interwebs called Osaka Space Station; a definite place to go if you are in Osaka and like the combination of drinking beer and playing any game you want. Its like being at home except I’m not alone in the dark with no one to talk to. The cocktails here are all game related, Daniel and I both went for the Haduken!!!!!!!! a blue mix of alcohol that was set on fire and had to be drank through a straw before it melted. Needless to say it was “Oishii!” (delicious, not only are you reading about how awesome Japan is; I’m also teaching you some Japanese, cool right?) It’s not just the cocktails that makes space station a gamers bar; this place has everything. A Famicom, a SNES, PS2, PS3, Xbox and an Xbox 360….and probably some Sega consoles (I forgot to ask….sorry). We Played on the Famicom of course, being 24 my first console was the SNES and until then I’ve never had the opportunity to actually play one. It all seems like a bit of a blur now but there was a wall of famicom cartrages, most of which we tried. Games like Rockman, Castlevania, Donkey Kong Jr, Dr Mario and regular Tetris. All while listening to a Tetris theme dubstep remix. Awesome night!
So thats the first city we went to. I still have Kyoto and Tokyo to talk about but I shall leave that for another time. Otherwise this thing may seem to go on forever. Make sure to come back and check out part two!