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A History of Japanese Arcades From Origins to 2020s

A History of Japanese Arcades From Origins to 2020s

Figure 1. Japanese Arcades by Era

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Origin of Japanese Arcades
  3. History of Japanese Arcades
  4. The Largest Arcades in Japan as of 2020s
  5. Popular Arcade Video Games in 1970s to 1990s
  6. Popular Arcade Video Games in 2000s to 2010s
  7. Popular Arcade Video Games in 2010s to 2020s
  8. Popular Arcade Video Games in 2020s to Present Day
  9. Conclusion


Gaming in the modern age has become a billion-dollar industry and a hobby of many around the world. The biggest reason for its massive success is its power to bring together and to light a competitive spirit like none other. While in recent years esports has taken the world by storm with competitions like EVO and Gamers8. We can not forget the humble roots from where gaming once began. What are these roots you ask? They are the arcades of your childhood. While nowadays gaming has evolved to move away from such locations. We can not overlook the impact they had on the evolution of gaming and the culture that surrounds it. From scoreboards to co-op split screen arcades were the pioneers of the gaming industry and are responsible for bringing games to the masses. From Pacman to Tekken from Miami racing to Polybius, arcades made gaming in the 80s and 90s cheap and affordable, while also bringing people together like none other. Arcades are also responsible for creating a whole new subset of games called anime games, as many of the most famous anime games in the last 4 decades have been arcade games.

Arcades also helped shine a light on gaming’s biggest advantage against other forms of entertainment. This being that anyone can play them, you didn’t need to be physically fit or have a genius-level IQ, you only need a few dimes and you were having the time of your life fighting through the crime-filled streets in Streets of Rage. While many different countries would go on to cultivate the arcade culture, only one would claim the title of the best, Japan. While many gamers know the country for its anime and manga respectively, not many are aware of the historical significance the country places in the evolution of arcades and the penetration of gaming into modern mainstream media. Companies from Japan such as Sega and Taito are the biggest producers and developers of arcade systems in the world and they have been doing it for decades. So come along as we take a trip down memory lane and see how our beloved games came to be and the best games of each era.

Origin of Japanese Arcades

[Image: japanese_arcades-2-sport_land-1.jpg]
Figure 2-1. Sport Land (1931) - Japan’s First Arcade

Contrary to popular belief the roots of gaming date further back into the early 1930s rather than the popularly believed 1970s. This is because we have records dating back to the 1930s about the opening of the first-ever entertainment/recreational center that offered arcade machines and other rides to its customers. It was called Sports Land and it was an instant hit with the population, while only being available for the upper patrons. Sport Land would lay the groundwork for the concept of an arcade in the Japanese population. Arcade machines imported from the west were also a major selling feature as many did not see machines like this very often, that isn’t to say that they did not exist before the 1930s as we have detailed records of these machines being offered at high-end onsen and technology expos. But the machines offered at such locations were quite rudimentary and many times were just a neat gimmick rather than what their later iterations would be. Another aspect that made these machines unique was the fact that they were purely mechanical at the time of their creation machines because at that time computing power was still a twinkle in the eyes of Alan Turing.

[Image: japanese_arcades-3-sport_land-2.jpg]
Figure 2-2. Sport Land Attractions (1931)

This was no small feat as with computing machines you can have a certain leeway in the technical aspect as the machines can adjust to variables, purely mechanical machines need to be tuned to perfection to be even operational. This is why when Kaichi Endo created the first-ever automated carousel of Japan many were delighted as it aligned with the political ideology of Japan at that time. It also was designed to be only operated after a coin was inserted into it, which might seem familiar to many as it was the start of inserting the coin to continue the system which would go on to define the arcade experience. Kaichi Endo is also believed to have first shipped his machines to onsen all around Japan to judge their functionality and later also shipped them to the afro mentioned Sport Land where it would be a star attraction. Endo would later go on to create several other staples of the early arcades such as the fortune tellers, Mustoscope, and the most iconic Japanese machine the pachinko. Efforts of people like Endo would lay the groundwork for later generations to come and evolve these simple machines into a billion-dollar industry.

[Image: japanese_arcades-4-endo’s_first_automated_carousel.jpg]
Figure 2-3. Endo’s First Automated Carousel (1929) - Japan’s First Coin-Operated Arcade Machine

History of Japanese Arcades

[Image: japanese_arcades-5-taito’s_elepong.jpg]
Figure 3-1. Taito’s Elepong (1973) - Japan’s First Arcade Video Game

Anyone looking into the history of arcades can see that after the early 1940s, there was radio silence, this was due to the ending of WWII and the development that followed it. But after a span of 30ish years, we got another major development in the arcade world and it would be one that would set off a chain reaction that would grip the Japanese population like none other. 

1973 would be the year in question when arcades would reenter the cultural zeitgeist with the release of Elepong by Taito. Not even Taito could have predicted the end outcome series of events they had set into motion. Elepong also drew a lot of attraction as it was a prime example of how far technology had come since the second world War's end. People were fascinated that now you could create purpose-built arcade machines with the sole intention of enjoyment. Devices like Taito's Elepong would be one of the first games to gather players to one location, which interim would sow the seeds of esports to flourish many decades later. Many would also go on to hold gatherings of other arcade games, but due to the obscurity of the systems, not many records could be found. Yet, we know from contemporary sources that official and unofficial gatherings started in the early 1970s.

Taito would later go on to achieve a feat many thought impossible at the time, competing with Attari. They accomplished this by creating a unique proprietary arcade cabinet that could later be re-programmed to run games they made themselves, which they would do later on with Space Invaders and the official first-ever arcade called Invader House. Creativity aside, it was the biggest achievement for any arcade company, as the market was dominated by the Attari machines. Taito would later on replace all of its previous machines, such as the above-mentioned Elepong, from different onsen and bars and replace them with the machines they built themselves. Seeing the change in the tech market, Sega would also start work on an arcade cabinet system, and the disadvantages of these arcade machines would also plant a little idea in the minds of a simple company that handmade hanafuda playing cards called Nintendo. An idea that blossomed into the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), the rest, as they say, is history.

[Image: japanese_arcades-6-invader_house.jpg]
Figure 3-2. Invader House (1978) - Japan’s First Video Game Dedicated Arcade

While many might consider arcade video games to be the main attraction you would be sorely mistaken as in Japan while they have a good reputation, some non-video game machines are more liked by the population. Two of the most popular examples are as follows.

  • Dragon Ball Z Figure Crane Game
[Image: japanese_arcades-7-dragon_ball_z_crane_game.jpg]
Figure 3-3. Dragon Ball Z Crane Game

Crane games are as iconic as they are abundant in Japan, as you can find them nearly everywhere. But one of the most popular ones since the early 90s has been Dragon Ball Z as it has provided a multitude of different figures ranging from Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball GT. Crane games are also known for either the ease by which you can win or the frustration when you spend hours to win a specific prize. These machines are also used by many couples when they start going out at the start. All in all crane games are an iconic and prominent feature of Japanese arcades and one which will no doubt persist far into the future.

  • Pokémon Pinball
[Image: japanese_arcades-8-pokémon_pinball_machine.jpg]
Figure 3-4. Pokémon Pinball Machine

What happens when you combine the most recognizable brand in the world with the most memorable arcade machine, simple you get a cultural sensation. Pokémon Pinball is one of the longest-running arcade machines out there, it also has gotten many different variations over the years from different Pokémon to completely new mechanics for exclusive regions. If you have ever been to the arcade in the early 2010s and late 2000s you will know the level of madness these machines caused. They are also found all over Japan and in some areas are also said to give out certain limited edition Pokémon cards. So if you were to find one do give it a try as who knows what mysteries await.

The Largest Arcades in Japan as of 2020s

[Image: japanese_arcades-9-takadanobaba_mikado_game_center.jpg]
Figure 4. Takadanobaba Mikado Game Center

If you are ever in Tokyo and find yourself in the mood for some retro gaming fun then do visit GiGO Akihabara building 1 and 3, located at ( GiGO Akihabara 1, 1 Chome-10-9 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021, Japan ) and ( Japan, 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 1 Chome−11−11 ビルディング ) respectively. They are the biggest arcades in Japan and offer multiple games ranging from the most popular to the obscure. It has something for everyone, but if you want to witness games from multiple eras then you can try your luck at Taito Station Akihabara ( Japan, postal code 101-0021, Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 4 Chome−2−2 ) and Takadanobaba Mikado Game Center ( 4 Chome-5-10 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 169-0075, Japan ), which is also known as "The Mecca of Arcades". They host some of the most popular retro games from the industry’s past, such as Elepong and Space Invader.

But with all this history stuff, you’re probably wondering which games were the most popular of their time. Worry not dear reader as the next part will go into extensive detail on the best games of each era.

Popular Arcade Video Games in 1970s to 1990s

  • Tengai
[Image: japanese_arcades-10-tengai-machine.jpg]
Figure 5-1. Tengai

Platform: (Arcade, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, iOS, Android, Switch, Windows, and Xbox)

The 90s will forever be remembered as the decade of change and growth. Not only did we see the world enter a new age of technology with the internet, but we also saw the gaming world take its first major leap with the release of classics like Half-Life and Doom. But many do not remember nowadays that many of the most influential arcade games were also released in the 90s. One such gem is the godfather of Touhou and the progenitor of the bullet hell genre Tengai. Developed by the masterminds of Psikyo, it is more than just a game; it is an experience like non-other.

[Image: japanese_arcades-11-tengai-characters.jpg]
Figure 5-2. Tengai Character Select

Tengai will take you on a trip through vibrant landscapes inspired by traditional Japanese folklore, where you will have to battle through hordes of dynamic and engaging enemies to ensure the world's survival. Narrative-wise, the game is a product of its time as it tells a simple tale of a hero and his spirit to save the world. Still, the beauty of the world and the high-octane gameplay balances it all to deliver a memorable experience. So strap on your gear and get ready to journey through the mystical land of long-forgotten times.

  • UN Squadron
[Image: japanese_arcades-12-un_squadron-gameplay.jpg]
Figure 5-3. UN Squadron

Platform: (Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, NES, and ZX Spectrum)

Capcom is a name known far and wide through the world to both gamers and non-gamers. For a good reason as well, since it is the company that has given gaming its most iconic characters, from Ryu to Leon. But back in the 80s, when Capcom was still a growing company, it started to dabble in the world of arcades, and this resulted in what is arguably Capcoms most enjoyable arcade shooter game to date, UN Squadron. For it is not simply a copy of the iconic jets of the time, it is a homage to the glory of the blazing engines that shatter the sound barrier and surpass human limits.

[Image: japanese_arcades-13-un_squadron-machine.jpg]
Figure 5-4. UN Squadron Arcade Machine

As the player, you get to control these jets with the then-newly released joystick controls as you battle through hordes of enemies ranging from ground troops to enemy jets. While the narrative might have been sparse, it did its job of linking the set pieces together to give the players an experience that only a few others could at that time. Fast-paced battles and fighter jets dog fights of the game would also later go on to inspire many other games, such as the famous Ace Combat series. UN Squadron might seem like a relic of a bygone era nowadays, but for many, it still reminds us of our childhoods when we dreamed of one day soaring through the boundless sky.

  • Guitar Freaks and DrumMania
[Image: japanese_arcades-14-guitar_freaks_and_dr...achine.jpg]
Figure 5-5. Guitar Freaks and DrumMania Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade, Windows, and PlayStation)

At the peak of the arcade, mania stood one genre that trumped all in its style, class, and ease to play, rhythm games. While now being forgotten by gamers, rhythm games were once the cornerstone of the community as they gathered multiple people to play and battle and were the gateway for many gamers. Among all the rhythm games, one stands out for its innovations and ingenuity: Guitar Freaks and DrumMania. While seeming to be two games at first glance, they are, in fact, a single game divided into two parts, one for the drums and the second for the guitar. This uniqueness allows players to experience gameplay like no other.

[Image: japanese_arcades-15-guitar_freaks_and_dr...meplay.jpg]
Figure 5-6. Guitar Freaks and DrumMania Gameplay

Both parts play accurately to their real-life counterparts and are easy to understand yet tough to master as you will learn the guitar strokes' intricacies and follow the drums' rhythmic beats. All the while, you are jamming out to some of the most iconic music of the later 90s, ranging from city pop to cyber-punk tracks. It truly teleports the players to a different dimension where only you and the music exist. The innovations of Guitar Freaks and DrumManian would later form a subgenre of its own and result in arguably the best guitar rhythm game to date, Guitar Hero. So what are you waiting for? Ready your instruments, as it's time to party like never before.

  • Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S.
[Image: japanese_arcades-16-dragon_ball_z_v_r_v_s-machine.jpg]
Figure 5-7. Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade)

Breaking one's limits and the power of friendships are but two of the iconic themes of the legendary tale of Dragon Ball and its sequel Dragon Ball Z. And in the 90s, everyone knew what Dragon Ball Z was, which no doubt stirred up massive hype when Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S was released to arcades worldwide because it was one of the first-ever good Dragon Ball Z games to come to the west. Not only did V.R.V.S introduce a whole new group of people, but it also paid tribute to the source material by bringing some of its most iconic fights to a new medium while keeping its signature charm intact.

[Image: japanese_arcades-17-dragon_ball_z_v_r_v_s-gameplay.jpg]
Figure 5-8. Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S Gameplay

Dragon Ball Z: V.R.V.S was a kind of game it employed a unique combat system in which the players would take control of one of the Z fighters and fight opponents in front of them by predicting their moves and countering them in such a way that you always won. Some of the most iconic attacks, like the destructo-disc and the Kamehameha wave, were also recreated for the game. Story-wise, the game replays the most crucial moments of the Dragon Ball Z story arc, such as the fight against Frezia and Perfect Cell. So get ready for a nostalgia trip that will have you reliving the best moments of your childhood.

  • Mobile Suit Gundam: EX Revue
[Image: japanese_arcades-18-mobile_suit_gundam_e...meplay.jpg]
Figure 5-9. Mobile Suit Gundam: EX Revue Gameplay

Platform: (Arcade)

Gundumn is a series that has had many ups and down, ranging from some of the most iconic stories ever in Zeta Gundam to a laughing stock in Iron Blood Orphans. But Gundam games, on the other hand, have been bangers after bangers. What not to love in seeing two giant robots battle to the death, and the game which kickstarted it all for many gamers was Mobile Suit Gundam: EX Revue. A game released in the late 1990s when the fighting game genre was at the top. Yes, you heard me right. It was a fighting game where you battled each other in glorious mechs from different periods.

[Image: japanese_arcades-19-mobile_suit_gundam_e...achine.jpg]
Figure 5-10. Mobile Suit Gundam: EX Revue Arcade Machine

Gameplay was as smooth as butter, as you could easily use your mech to traverse the stage and land devastating blows. Each of the mecha in the game had its own unique attack combo and even super moves, which were taken from the climax of their respective series. The story mode was nonexistent as the game entirely focused on the PvP aspect, making it as balanced as humanly possible. Which would is one of the main reasons many still own arcade cabinets of the game to this day, so that they can relive the glory days of arcade fighters. So if you are in the mode for some fast-paced mecha action, you know where to look.

Popular Arcade Video Games in 2000s to 2010s

  • Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road
[Image: japanese_arcades-20-dragon_quest_monster...meplay.jpg]
Figure 6-1. Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road Gameplay

Platform: (Arcade, and Wii)

Collaborations have become quite common nowadays, but back in the early 2000s, it was rare to see two companies collab to create a game, which is why when two giants of the Japanese gaming industry came out with the announcement that they were working on an arcade Dragon Quest game many where astonished and quickly the hype spread via the early chat rooms. The game in question would be Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road, an arcade RPG game like never before. Square-Enix would handle the story and combat, while Taito would take the cabinet and controls. It was a massive hit as it gave players a taste of Dragon Quest with the ease and siomp[licity of arcade games.

Combat was mainly turn-based and required some strategy to win, but the main star was the controllers. Players would equip themselves with the iconic Dragon Quest sword from its logo and swing it in specific ways to cast a spell or do an action. While it was not motion-sensing technology, it would later be ported to the Wii, where it can still be played. So if you are in the mood for a classical adventure, come along.

[Image: japanese_arcades-21-dragon_quest_monster...achine.jpg]
Figure 6-2. Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road Arcade Machine
  • Sengoku 3
[Image: japanese_arcades-22-sengoku_3-gameplay.jpg]
Figure 6-3. Sengoku 3 Gameplay

Platform: (Arcade, Windows and Wii)

As the calendar flipped to the 2000s, a gaming phenomenon was born from the creative collaboration of the team at Noise Factory named Sengoku 3. This game, an extraordinary tapestry of Japanese folklore and beat 'em up action, was more than a traditional arcade title—it was an homage to an era, a portal to ancient times when samurais and ninjas shaped the destiny of a nation. Stepping into the game was like stepping into a vibrant, timeless painting—full of brushstrokes of epic battles, intricate combos, and heart-thumping multiplayer chaos. As players navigated this realm, they transformed into the heroes of the old world, standing tall against foes that leaped straight out from the pages of mythology.

Every pixel-rich landscape served as more than just a battleground. Sengoku 3 was truly a product of its time, as it had so much love and care put into it that it could attract people from only the music and art style alone, which is no small feat in the then-saturated arcade market. Players would also need to spend hours of their time learning the mechanics, for it was not an easy game. It made you truly feel as if you were a ninja from the tales of old trying to fight the good fight for a better future. Sadly it was one of the last true 2D beat-em-ups of its type, but truly what a high note for such a beloved genre to end on.

  • Super Dragon Ball Z
[Image: japanese_arcades-23-super_dragon_ball_z-machine.jpg]
Figure 6-4. Super Dragon Ball Z Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade, and PlayStation)

As the new century began, many would again bear witness to a birth of a game that would embody the fighting spirit of a beloved manga series. A series whose fans did not know the meaning of impossible. Crafts & Meister would be the makers of this game called Super Dragon Ball Z, a homage to the storytelling genius of Akira Toriyama and the undying love of the fans. This game wasn't just about the satisfaction of landing a punch or executing a perfect combo—it was about re-living the timeless narratives of courage, friendship, and otherworldly battles that weaved the "Dragon Ball" saga. Players morphed into Saiyans, Namekians, and earthlings, grappling with cosmic threats in a universe where power levels over 9000 were the norm.

[Image: japanese_arcades-24-super_dragon_ball_z-gameplay.jpg]
Figure 6-5. Super Dragon Ball Z Gameplay

Sure, its name could stir confusion—while it boasts 'Super,' it predates the "Dragon Ball Super" series. However, it shares the same 'super' thrilling energy and charm. The game's striking comic-esque aesthetics weren't just a throwback to the series' golden era—they were a testament to the enduring appeal of its visual storytelling and character design. In the cosmos of arcade titles, "Super Dragon Ball Z" shines like a fully-charged Spirit Bomb. It’s legacy—a blend of vibrant narrative, adrenaline-pumping gameplay, and nostalgic visuals—continues to resonate, calling upon players to relive the saga, one Dragon Ball hunt at a time.

Popular Arcade Video Games in 2010s to 2020s

  • Initial D Arcade Stage 8 Infinity
[Image: japanese_arcades-25-initial_d_arcade_sta...achine.jpg]
Figure 7-1. Initial D Arcade Stage 8 Infinity Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade)

As the 2010s began to unfurl, the roar of virtual engines echoed in arcade halls worldwide. "Initial D Arcade Stage 8 Infinity," the creative progeny of Sega, didn't merely emulate the thrill of street racing—it brought to life Shuichi Shigeno's high-speed world of drifting cars and nocturnal mountain passes. This game was an invitation to channel one's inner Takumi Fujiwara and to experience the pulse-pounding exhilaration that comes with mastering the perfect drift. More than a game, it was a heartfelt ode to the golden era of street racing. The whine of turbochargers, the screech of tires against asphalt, the rush of speeding through narrow mountain roads—it was like stepping into a manga panel, except you were the driver, not the reader.

[Image: japanese_arcades-26-initial_d_arcade_sta...meplay.jpg]
Figure 7-2. Initial D Arcade Stage 8 Infinity Gameplay

Although the game didn’t come with a real AE86 or a dad who secretly honed your driving skills via tofu deliveries, it captured the essence of the Initial D universe. The meticulously detailed environments, the realistic racing physics, and the challenging rivalries encapsulated the raw thrill and the inherent danger of street racing culture. Amid the panorama of racing titles, "Initial D Arcade Stage 8 Infinity" stands apart. Its legacy—a harmonious blend of the manga's narrative, visceral racing dynamics, and visually stunning aesthetics—continues to inspire, offering every player the chance to conquer the mountain pass, one drift at a time.

  • Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade Future Tone
[Image: japanese_arcades-27-hatsune_miku_project...achine.jpg]
Figure 7-3. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade Future Tone Gameplay

Platform: (Arcade and PlayStation)

The 2000s was a time of massive cultural growth. Seen many the way pop culture and the internet collided to better themselves and create a phenomenon that would define the coming years. This was the birth and subsequent rise in popularity of Hatsune Miku. So it surprised no one when, in the 2010s, the Hatsune Miku Project Diva arcade was released to become the largest and most popular arcade rhythm game ever. Much of this was due to the extensive library of songs the game had access to and the new dance feature, which required you to dance along with Miku as she hosted a concert.

[Image: japanese_arcades-28-hatsune_miku_project...e_tone.jpg]
Figure 7-4. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade Future Tone Arcade Machine

Novel at first, the concept grows upon you as you listen to the Cathy tunes and slowly but surely start to move with the beat, only to later end up dancing like a possessed fan at the end. Hatsune Miku Project Diva was famous in Japan and overseas, where it would inspire new mechanics in the aptly named Just Dance series. But above all else, it showed the world that a niche concept imagined by a few dedicated fans could become a massive success only if they put their heart and souls into it. So if you want to experience the craze of the early 2000s, then go to your nearby arcade and start jamming along to the soothing voice of Miku.

  • Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator
[Image: japanese_arcades-29-guilty_gear_xrd_revelator.jpg]
Figure 7-5. Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator

Platform: (Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, and Arcade game)

As mentioned in the article, the 2000s would be the last time arcade fighters would hold that much fame as it was only downhill from there, but one series thought differently. So in the 2010s, they would release what many believed to be the magnum opus of Arcs System Works, Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator. Revelator was no simple game; it was the farewell to a medium that made the series what it was and what a farewell it was. The game improves every single aspect from its previous release. Many to this day still play it as it has the most balanced and fun combat in the series.

[Image: japanese_arcades-30-guilty_gear_xrd_reve...achine.jpg]
Figure 7-6. Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator Arcade Machine

Later games would dwarf the game in terms of roster and graphics. Still, Revelator would continue to persist because it genuinely embodied the feeling of an arcade battle which later entries would abandon in favor of mass appeal. Story-wise, the game was a massive improvement as it finally told the backstory of some iconic characters and gave some much-needed character growth to our main character Sol Badguy. So if you ever stumble upon an old arcade machine named Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator, insert the coin and be teleported to a time when everything was much simpler.

Popular Arcade Video Games in 2020s to Present Day

  • Sound Voltex Exceed Gear
[Image: japanese_arcades-31-sound_voltex_exceed_...achine.jpg]
Figure 8-1. Sound Voltex Exceed Gear Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade)

As time passed, technology improved, and once popular things faded into irrelevancy. Such was the sad reality rhythm game fans had to come to as the market for arcade games dwindled. Many thought it was the end of the arcade rhythm game genre, yet hope came in 2020 from a doubtful source Konami. Not only had Konami finally decided to rejoin the gaming industry, but it also sought out o create an arcade rhythm game that would rival the greatness of games of yore. This resulted in the creation of the Sound Voltex Exceed Gear, a game many believe to be a soul successor to this once-dying genre.

[Image: japanese_arcades-32-sound_voltex_exceed_gear.jpg]
Figure 8-2. Sound Voltex Exceed Gear

Sound Voltex Exceed Gear does something unique by introducing dynamic factors into the rhythm game formula to keep players on their toes. This can be in the form of various obstacles or entire stage shits which will require the players to change their strategies on the fly. Music has also been significantly expanded as it features a good mix of old and new songs that will keep you playing for hours. So if you are a fan of old-school arcade rhythm games, come along as we enter a new era with Konami's bold new venture.

  • Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 XBoost
[Image: japanese_arcades-33-mobile_suit_gundam_e...achine.jpg]
Figure 8-3. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 XBoost Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade)

Gundum, as told before, has been a beloved franchise for many due to the high quality of games it has released over the years, and Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 XBoost is no exception. As the squeal to the much beloved Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS, it improves every aspect of its prequel. Now you have an even more extensive roster of characters, ranging from a different era to whole new universes. Even the combat has seen massive improvements with the range and melee weapons getting well-needed fixes, making it so that you can no longer choose Gundam Unicorn and just use range weapons to dominate the fight.

[Image: japanese_arcades-34-mobile_suit_gundam_e...meplay.jpg]
Figure 8-4. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 XBoost Gameplay

The PvP has also seen massive upgrades, as you can now see the battle much more clearly as the cabinets have been upgraded. These upgrades also bring new gameplay possibilities as new side weapon options have been added to break the loop of standard combat and increase the already high skill ceiling of the game. So if you want to pilot a mech yourself, then Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. 2 XBoost is the game for you.

  • Pokémon Mezastar
[Image: japanese_arcades-35-pokémon_mezastar-machine.jpg]
Figure 8-5. Pokémon Mezastar Arcade Machine

Platform: (Arcade)

Weirdly, a massive brand like Pokemon has had very few arcade hits, unlike its contemporaries. But even the arcades could not halt the cultural zeitgeist that is Pokemon, as with the recent release of Pokémon Mezastar. Unlike its console counterparts, the game takes a more direct approach to battle and especially catching Pokemon, as you can now use specific gadgets to not only lure Pokemon in but also to capture them. This brings a whole new dimension to these classic systems. As for the first time since its release, the core components of what makes a Pokemon game have been changed, and it is for the better.

[Image: japanese_arcades-36-pokémon_mezastar-gameplay.jpg]
Figure 8-5. Pokémon Mezastar Gameplay

The story is, like always, not a significant concern of the game, but one thing that Pokemon Mezaster accomplishes to do is the bonding between your Pokemon and you. As via some unique chips, you can transfer your Pokemon and take them with you and check up on them via any of the multiple arcade cabinets of the game. So if you want to relive your childhood memories through rose-tinted nostalgia glasses, then Pokemon Mezastar is for you.


All good things must come to an end alas, as we enter this new gaming era with the advent of Esports and VR, we also see the slow and steady decline of arcades all over the world. One of the most major is the closure of Sega’s arcades which have been monumental in helping the medium grow. Much of this decline is due to the ease by which many can now play games from the comfort of their home and how after the mid-2000s developers slowly started to drop arcade development entirely. Aside from home consoles and PCs smartphones are also now filling in the space arcades once held as they are easier to use and also free which for many is a godsend. Even Esports, a product of arcades, has left it in favor of online connectivity as it allows you to not only play against skilled players but also to develop your fighting game skill against many more. It is a sad fact but one which we must grow to accept, that arcades are now outdated. Anyone with a half-decent smartphone can play games anywhere at any time. While modern Japanese arcades are working on solutions to these problems, nothing can be said for sure.  Will arcades manage to make a comeback? Who knows but one thing is for sure arcades were and always will be a part of the gaming spirit as it was for many the place where they made friends that will last a lifetime. 

Additionally, we have seen a considerable variety of arcade machines with diverse designs after the 2020s, rather than the traditional appearance of an arcade cabinet with a single lever and 6 to 8 buttons. It is evident that arcade machine makers are making efforts to create a kind of differentiation that cannot be experienced on current consoles, PCs, or mobile devices. Certainly, if they compete with video games that can only be experienced in arcades, it is possible that arcades may regain popularity in the future. Recently, various efforts have been observed in the Japanese arcade industry to advance and evolve the arcade gaming experience. These efforts include the addition of online play functionality to arcade games and the introduction of new payment systems beyond coin-based fees, such as time-based or membership-based pricing, aimed at helping gamers save money.


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