Arcades are not too much of a thing in the west, especially not in the UK. As a young lad growing up in Manchester the best I could hope for in the ways of coin op was a few barely functional machines in a local bowling alley on cinema lobby. For quite a while though the only things I played in arcades were fighting games and side scrolling beat 'em ups so for a while my impression of an arcade machine was nothing more than a screen, a stick and a few buttons. This all changed when my mother took me to a place called Sega World that was in London
Anyway, my young mind could barely handle all the awesome that was in this place and this is where I first discovered the rail shooter. Big machines that didn't have a stick or little buttons to push but huge screens and big guns attached to them which you had to use to shoot enemies. The one that grabbed my attention in particular was The House of The Dead because shooting zombies was way more interesting to me than blasting people in titles like Virtua Cop. I even got my first taste of arcade multiplayer experience on that same day.
Near the end of my time in Sega World that day me and my mother returned to the floor where all the light gun games were located. I was hoping to get one last go on The House of the Dead before we set out but there was someone playing already. Instead of just giving up and walking away like I would do nowadays I just stood there and watched this guy play and I was fascinated by it because he was getting to parts of the game that my young self could have never of dreamed of getting to while on my mothers budget of £1 coins. In that game there are 4 stages, and when he reached stage 3 he notices me and my mother watching, probably assumes we are waiting for a go and then offers the 2nd players gun to me. I excitedly grab a few coins from my mother and start playing with this complete stranger and it all culminated in us finishing the game.
The rush of excitement as the games final boss, Magician, went down was intense and once the credits had finished rolling we shook hands and split ways. I don't remember anything about that guy aside from the gaming experience but he really made my day.
Fast forward to 2016 and now I'm living in Japan where arcades are pretty common. I have about 4 all within 15 minutes of my apartment building and comparing coin op now to what it was back then it's incredible to think just how far these machines have come.
One thing I was always a fan of was rhythm game and things like touch screens have done a lot for that genre. A few years ago I thought stomping all over a big metal pad was cool but now I'm using touch sensitive keyboards with hand sensors above them in games like Chunithm or just playing with the game screen itself in titles like Syncronica
|My Cards have seen a lot of use|
Just to finish up this post and bring it back to the old House of the Dead comparison, one of my favorite light gun games in modern times is Gunslinger Stratos
I could talk for HOURS about all the fancy new stuff in the Japanese arcades but then this post would go on for way way too long. It's mental to think just how far the coin op experience has come in such a short amount of time and quite frankly, I'm super glad that I'm living in Japan and am able to experience all these things as they are released.