While Japan has a booming arcade industry, the West lags behind. The number of arcades in the West have been dwindling, which means we don’t get access to the huge variety of arcade games present in Japan.
We can only hope that these Japanese arcade games will make their way West.
1. Taiko no Tatsujin
Taiko no Tatsujin lets you become the Taiko drum master that you’ve always dreamed about. It features two realistic Taiko drums that you have to hit with the provided drum sticks.
The on-screen prompts tell you when to start drumming in a Guitar Hero-like fashion. The red notes signal for you to hit the middle of the drum, the blue notes tell you to hit the drum’s rim, while the yellow bar requires multiple hits to the drum. To win the game, you’ll have to fill the spirit gauge by hitting the drum as accurately as possible.
2. Cho Chabudai Gaeshi
I got the chance to play Cho Chabudai Gaeshi at an awesome nerdy convention, and I don’t regret it one bit. Since the concept of the game revolves around anger, I found that it’s a great way to unleash your frustrations.
Cho Chabudai Gaeshi comes with a small, round table that’s attached to the cabinet. You get to choose from different scenarios that feature four irate people—take on the role of a bride, a host club guest, an angry dad, or a fed-up salaryman.
Beat your fists on the table, and then flip it over as hard as you can within one minute. The more objects that fall on the floor, the higher your score.
3. Dance Rush (Bemani)
Dance Rush makes Dance Dance Revolution players look like amateurs. In DDR, you awkwardly stumbling around as struggle you to reach every hit every single directional arrow with your feet. Dance Rush is DDR’s more suave successor—it incorporates sliding and shuffling motions that give you an air of finesse and grace.
The light-up dance space acts as a touchscreen. To make this game even more accurate, it uses sensors to detect your motion while you dance.
This game is just too fun to play alone. Luckily, the folks at Konami were smart enough to make the dance floor big enough to hold two players. You can even record your dance with the built-in camera and share it on social media.
4. Initial D Arcade Stage
If you’ve ever watched Initial D, you’ve likely tried (and failed) at expertly drifting your car around a tight turn. You probably don’t have the right type of car or the skill of Takumi Fujiwara, but you’re not out of luck—hop into the driver’s seat with Initial D Arcade Stage and experience drifting for yourself. The experience may be simulated, but the adrenaline is real.
Choose and customize several drift-ready cars such as the Toyota AE86, Nissan Skyline GT-R, Mazda RX-7, and more. Race against characters from the anime in story mode, or try to beat the clock in time attack. The newest version of Initial D Arcade Stage features tag-team mode and online battles as well.
5. Wonderland Wars
Wonderland Wars is a unique arcade game for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s an arcade MOBA, and you don’t see that very often. It also incorporates a stylus and one joystick, instead of buttons or a regular touchscreen.
When you start the game, you get to choose which characters will join your team of four. Each of the 20 fairytale-themed characters has different abilities and stats, so you need to choose wisely. Farm NPCs to level up, and eliminate the members of your opponent’s team as you work to destroy their castle.
6. Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield
It’s hard not to imagine yourself piloting your very own mobile suite after watching the Gundam anime series or building Gunpla models. When you take a seat inside this Gundam game’s P.O.D. (panoramic optical display), you can finally fulfill your mech-driving fantasy.
The three screens show you the perspective of a pilot from the inside of a mobile suit. To make the experience even more realistic, you get to use foot pedals and joysticks, and you can even plug in your own pair of headsets to communicate with your teammates. Each epic battle takes place online and lasts about ten minutes long.
7. Maimai Murasaki
When you see several Maimai Murasaki cabinets lined up in a row, you’ll think that you just stepped into a laundry mat. The cabinet resembles a washing machine, but don’t worry, this chaotic rhythm game has nothing to do with cleaning clothes.
The circular touchscreen shows objects that quickly float toward the screen’s rim. To win the game, you have to touch the screen in time with the objects’ movement and the rhythm of the music. Make sure to pay attention—the color of each object tells you whether you need to tap, slide, or hold the screen.
8. Gunslinger Stratos
Not only does Gunslinger Stratos have addicting gameplay, but it also has an intriguing storyline. This third-person shooter takes place in 2115 when Japan has been separated into two different worlds. You play as one of the gunslingers who’s responsible for taking part in Operation Stratos, a plan to go back in time and change the past.
During the game, you control your character and fire your weapon using the gun controllers. Shoot the enemy team as you attempt to survive each round.
Will East Ever Meet West?
Some arcades, like Round One, have imported Japanese arcade games to the States’. However, we still lack a number of Japanese arcade games (and arcades in general).
With the latest retro game craze, arcades might start popping up again. But if you don’t have an arcade in your area, check out some other fun activities that you can do with your fellow nerds.