Japanese Arcades: Gundam Pods & Other Guilty Pleasures

Link - article by Avi Abrams

Just like inside an arcade game, these machines have gone up to the next level

"When I put a quarter into an arcade machine... I escape the world that is a slave to the time that makes things fall apart" --D. B. Weiss

Arcade machines sure have come a long way in design and fun levels since the 1970s (see our Vintage Arcade Machines showcase): remember Pong, Pac Man, Frogger? Huge clunky machines with flickering-pixel CRT displays and solid wood cabinets delivered basic thrills and are still appreciated by hardcore retro geeks today... In the 1980s came advanced outer space offerings like Asteroids, Galaga, Tron, Missile Command - eventually culminating in what we have today (mostly in Japan, mind you) - perhaps the ultimate gaming experience of them all, the Gundam Pilot pods, the Afterburner, and similar extreme video-battle enclosures.

(images credit: Jenny Wu)

Gundam Arcade Pods look like pure geek heaven, and this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-tech arcade amusement in Japan.

We already wrote about totally over-the-top Robot Restaurant in Tokyo, which is just as flashy and noisy experience (in a good way) as they come, but these arcade machines bring it all closer to home - on a really personal level. If you want to try some of these Gundam Pods, you need to create your pilot card first (knowing Japanese helps at this point), then don the communication headset, climb into a dome-shaped cabin, and blast off into a pretty good approximation of an outer space dogfight.

(inside the pods; on the right is the Battle Pod from Gundam series)

(image credit: Jenny Wu)

Similarly designed Star Wars battle pods are coming out in 2015, which would be a blast to play, I'm sure (more info):

(image via)

Here are other awesome Japanese arcade games that are not yet widely available elsewhere

Military fighter simulator pod (watch gameplay video here):

(left image via)

On the right image above is... ORBS!! Apparently, the "Greatest Arcade Game That Never Was" according to this page. This Over Reality Booster System O.R.B.S. concept pod from Namco was originally intended for "Star Blade Operation Blue Planet" game:

This full-enclosure concept evolved into more successful SEGA Afterburner R360 unit, where the pilot would be rotated 360 degrees inside a sphere (some of these machines made their way into the US; they also require a game supervisor - see video):

SEGA's promotional graphics were wonderfully futuristic:

Here is a Groove Coaster music game from Taito combining excitement of good rhythm and extreme surfing (here is the gameplay video):

(image via)

The latest development in multi-player arcade shooters is "Gunslinger Stratos": beautifully realized game for four shooters standing next to each other:

(image via)

"Gunslinger Stratos 2" happens to have typically over-the-top exciting/outrageous graphics (and some very cute mobile icons to go with it):

If you're stressed, slap somebody's virtual butt, or unleash table-flipping disaster in a crowded kitchen

Arcade games like "Boonga Boonga" (which is actually South Korean) and the legendary Table-Flipping games cater to those passive-aggressive impulses that are normally kept inside; but in case you want to vent your anger, well, Japanese arcades could be just the ticket. Here is the "Boonga Boonga" machine, where you slap people's virtual butts just to see their reaction:

(image via)

Table-flipping kitchen apocalypse is also available on demand (you can even totally destroy a flat-screen tv - see video)

Going Mini

Here is a portable Arcade Truck (scale model of an actual vehicle) in case normal arcade is too far away - more info

(images via)

The miniature arcade wristwatch is the new level of geek-cool - info:

(image via)

This portable arcade system unfolds out of groovy retro-styled leather case and contains a few of pixel-art classic games (more info):

And we finish with a NES Ghostbusters blessing in Japanese "Engrish":

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.




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Blogger Bunny said...

I don't suppose you want to know that they somehow managed to make Gunslinger Stratos into an anime.

The R360 was fun, but some players needed barf bags from the costumed attendant ^^;

Blogger Unknown said...

Those Gundam Pods were used as the bases for 1st Gunpla anime series Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G. If only the real scanner hardware existed, we would all play as both hobby Gunpla modelers and hard-core video game FPS players.


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