Posts Tagged game center
Today the Penpal had lunch plans with one of her friends and the freind’s daughter. Instead of tagging along, I decided to go off and have my own adventure.
It was a rainy day, but I stayed mostly dry thanks to some expert use of my umbrella. I’m only mentioning this because I live in Winnipeg where many people don’t own a single umbrella, and the usual response to rain is to stay inside or run while outside in hopes of not getting too wet. I felt a sense of accomplishment in being able to get to the station mostly dry in the rain.
I took a short ride to Numazu station, and walked towards the Bivi building on the north side. Bivi was built during my last year of teaching in Japan, and houses a movie theatre, internet / comic cafe, Game Center, and a bunch of restaurants. Many of the restaurants had changed since the last time I was in Numazu, but everything looked good. After making a quick loop around I was drawn in by the delicious smells coming from Ohsama No Curry.
A Canadian walks into an Indian restaurant in Japan sounds like the start to a bad joke, but it was actually the story of a good lunch. The lunch special had curry, a choice of nan bread or rice, salad, and a drink for just under 1000 yen. SOOOO GOOOD!
After lunch I made a visit to the Game Center and played whatever the newest version of Guitar Freaks is called before shooting some zombies and checking out the claw games. Most of the machines have cute anime characters as prizes, but one of them had something a bit different for “ladies day”.
I’m assuming by the picture in the background that these were actually hand massagers, which would be very useful after playing too many video games. It is possible that they may have some other uses as well.
No, I didn’t play this machine. If I want a “hand massager” I’ll buy it from a specialty shop instead of trying to win one in front of random strangers in a place frequented by teenagers.
I returned to Numazu station and took the Gotemba line towards Gotemba station at the foot of Mt. Fuji in the hopes of getting some pictures. Unfortunately the rain kept getting worse as the train climbed the mountain. By the time I reached Gotemba it was a total downpour. I managed to snap a few rainy pics from the station, but didn’t trust my prairie boy umbrella skills in rain that the Japanese people were avoiding.
My ride back down the mountain was delayed by 15 minutes due to weather. Delaying a train in Japan is NOT something taken lightly, so the weather must have been really bad. Instead of being lined up on the windy, rainy platform, everyone was politely lined up in the enclosed stairway leading to the platform. For the record, politely is the default way to line up anywhere in Japan.
I ended up getting home about the same time as The Penpal. We both went out for lunch, but had very different experiences. I may be biased, but I think mine was better. When you are on vacation, even a quick bite to eat and a train ride can be an adventure.
After dinner, we all went to Kawasaki. I needed to get some shift swap paperwork signed, so I left Code Red, Hippie, Flounder and Green at a nearby game center. Since I was in casual clothes, I couldn’t go into the building to meet the other teachers, so I hung around in front of the building waiting for them to come out. Japan is a very safe country, but there are always a bunch of homeless people hanging around in the trees near the entrance to NOVA, so it’s not the most comfortable place to hang around.
Eventually the teachers came out and I got my paperwork signed. I walked to the game center to find everyone watching Flounder playing a large medal game. The game had bouncing balls, flashing lights, video screens, and a coin pusher, basically total sensory overload. Flounder was trying to manipulate the coins in order to push more tokens towards his collector. There were a number of other medal games in the area – horse racing simulators, slot machines, card battle games, and others.
Using gambling machines to win money is illegal in Japan, but you can win prizes. One popular example is pachinko, which is kind of like a high tech vertical pinball game. To play, you buy a bunch of little metal balls and feed them into the pachinko machine. Using a knob, you attempt to fire the balls through the game board into a small hole. Doing this wins you more little metal balls. When you are done playing, you can exchange any balls you have left for a prize. The loophole is that every pachinko parlour in Japan has a nearby prize exchange shop, where you can sell your prize for cash.
I was not familiar with medal games, but I assumed that they would operate on the same principle as pachinko. Flounder won a huge number of tokens playing the game. He took them to the service counter, where the tokens were counted and Flounder received a card that kept track of how many tokens he owned. The next time he returned, he could use his tokens again to play the games and attempt to win more tokens. I tried to ask the employee where the prize exchange was. The employee tried to tell me that there was no such thing for medal games. At the time I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, or just not allowed to explain about exchanging prizes for cash. I promised Flounder that I would look into it.
Medal games can be a fun way to spend some time, but there is no way to win money. If you want to try to gamble for cash, play pachinko instead.
Due to another late night, we got yet another late start on our day. In the morning we did laundry and watched 3 episodes of The Simpsons in the Hello House common room. When we finally got mobile, headed out for Yokohama. We took Nanbu line to Kawasaki, Tokaido line to Yokohama, then changed to the new Minato Mirai line for Minato Mirai station.
We explored the area around Landmark Tower, and then made our way over towards Cosmo Clock. We decided that the five of us didn’t want to divide up and ride the romantic Cosmo Clock ferris wheel in groups. Instead we found ourselves in yet another game center. This one featured the incredibly cool (and incredibly Japanese) dog walking simulator.
The purpose of the game is to successfully walk your virtual dog.The controls are a treadmill and a leash. The treadmill is used to walk your dog at an appropriate pace: too fast and the dog gets upset, but too slow and the dog gets bored. The leash is used to steer your dog away from hazards like other dogs, cars, and food delivery bicycles. It seems simple, but is actually pretty hard and fun to watch your friends fail at.
After getting our fill of the Minato Mirai area, we caught a quick train to Yokohama Chinatown. The area is full of delicious looking restaurants. The problem was that the menus featured Chinese food that I didn’t know how to read in Japanese, and there weren’t many pictures. Also, lunch specials in the area are quite reasonable, but dinner can be pretty expensive. After about 30 minutes of searching we finally found a restaurant with reasonable dinner prices that had enough pictures on the menu so I wasn’t afraid of ordering. The food was fantastic! After eating, we slowly worked our way back towards the station, and took Minato Mirai line back to Yokohama station to meet up with my coworkers for a karaoke adventure.
In the evening we decided to head out for some adventure. We started in a small game center (arcade) in Noborito. It was fun, but the selection of games was lacking. Seeking bigger and better things we got on the Odakyu line for Shinjuku.
Shinjuku at night is amazing. All of the tall buildings are lit up brightly, and the streets are full of people looking for restaurants, bars, and other good times. We spent some time in a big game center, with the main attraction being the awesome Taiko drumming game “Taiko no Tatsujin” which is pictured above. The game was a huge hit, and anyone from a complete beginner to a taiko master could enjoy it. We also enjoyed a fun version of “House of the Dead” called “Typing of the Dead”. Instead of using a gun to shoot zombies, you used a keyboard to type in the names that appeared in front of them. After spending time and money on video games, the guys requested to see something else. I told them that there was a red light district nearby, which naturally caught their attention.
I had never been to Kabukicho before, but I knew generally where it was. Combined with some street signs and maps we wandered through the congested, bright, bustling streets of Shinjuku. Before we went into the area, I told the guys that we were under no circumstances going to be going into any of the businesses in the area. I also warned them that there were likely to be aggressive touts vying for our attention. As soon as we passed through the famous gates onto one of the sketchier looking streets, we were approached by various men advertising different establishments and the services they offered. We were told in English about hostess bars with school girl themes, places where we could watch women showering, and one place where we could meet the attractive women on the sign and do “whatever we want”. One of the touts grabbed onto Hippie’s arm and tried to lead him into a place promising “titties that would change his life”. The only person in our group that received no attention at all was Flounder, who stood head and shoulders above everyone in the area. He was not approached by a single tout.
One quick loop of the area was enough, and we wandered around different parts of Shinjuku before calling it a night.
(2014 update 1) Starting in around 2006 there was a massive cleanup effort in Kabukicho that apparently cleaned up the area. I am sure that it is still an interesting place to walk through, but it likely won’t be the same experience we had in 2004.
(2014 update 2) Typing of the Dead is now available on Steam!!
Today I went to Numazu and hung out with The Penpal and Williams. I really love the change in scenery when leaving the greater Tokyo area and getting into Shizuoka. Mt. Fuji was snow covered and looked spectacular.
The first stop of the day was Izu Mito Sea Paradise, a marine park just south of Numazu along the coast. Sea Paradise has tanks with a great selection of fish and other underwater life. They also have a dolphin show, which is much like a dolphin show just about anywhere else in the world.
After Sea Paradise, we went to a beach along the coastline where people were practicing various water sports. For the first time ever I saw someone kiteboarding. Imagine someone on a small surfboard holding on to two handles connected to a large parachute like kite. Unfortunately for the man, he wiped out and his kite started blowing away. None of the onlookers at the beach stopped to help.
Following the beach, we went 10 pin bowling and then spent some time in a game center. I specifically mention that the bowling was 10 pin because bowling in Canada is typically 5 pin. I prefer 10 pin, except for the time it takes to find a ball the right weight with proper holes.
In the game centre I played a Dance Dance Revolution clone (badly) and tried a very strange train simulator game. You can’t drive off the tracks, but you lose points for being late to the next station or for giving the passengers a rough ride. I was very fast but I actually had a passenger fall out when I opened the doors at top speed.
It’s always good to get away from the Greater Tokyo area for a while, and I had a fun day with The Penpal and Williams. Fortunately the train driver on the way home was much better than I had been on the train simulator.
(partial rewrite of original post for detail)
On July 19 I had plans to hang out with my old roommate Klaxman. For those who haven’t read the cast of characters, Klaxman used to be a video game programmer for years, but retired and moved to Japan to teach English. Usually when I return to Japan we end up at a game center (Japanese name for arcade) playing games. This day was no different.
Before we headed off for some gaming, we went for lunch at the Cocochee Hotel on the north side of Numazu station. The hotel was a relatively new addition to the area, and featured two different restaurants. Thanks to Happyko’s recommendation, we went to the Japanese restaurant. The daily lunch specials included a few different options featuring Wagyu beef, which is beef from Japanese cows raised specifically for their fat content. I ordered the Kuroge Wagyu steak (pictured) and Klaxman ordered the Asuka Steak.
Some of the appetizers arrived for one of our orders. We couldn’t completely understand the waiter, so I happily claimed them for myself and started eating. A few minutes later the main courses arrived. Seeing the appetizer dishes in front of me, the waiter served me Klaxman’s food and gave him mine. Apparently the appetizers had belonged to Klaxman. A waitress came over to our table as we switched dishes and started apologizing. I apologized to her for misunderstanding the waiter. She apologized for the service. I apologized for my lack of Japanese ability. After about 3 solid minutes of apologies from all involved, we got to eat.
I have eaten beef in Canada, the US, Jamaica, Japan and Korea but the Wagyu beef on served on rice in my lunch was quite possibly the best beef I have ever eaten in my life. The steak was perfectly seasoned, cooked to about a medium and sliced into strips. It was so tender I likely could have cut it with a fork (if there were any forks in the restaurant). About half way through I had to remind myself that there was rice as well, and that I should pace myself on the steak. I would like to think that I have a fairly large vocabulary, but I don’t think I have the words necessary to describe how amazing the food was.
After lunch, we hung out at the restaurant for a bit and Klaxman showed off his new Intellivision game Match 5. Yes, you read that correctly. When not teaching English or studying Japanese, Klaxman spends his free time programming games for defunct gaming systems in machine code. The game is one of those simple to learn, difficult to master puzzle games that really make gaming fun. If Match 5 is ever released for mobile phones it will sell a billion copies. I also got to see a preview of an upcoming game project featuring different variations on Pong. My favourite was a kind of Space Pong where you have to maneuver the game board away from asteroids while playing Pong.
Seeing the new classic games got us excited for the nearby game center. Like most Japanese game centers you had to enter through an impressive gauntlet of UFO catchers featuring everything from candy to plush toys to goldfish. Past the UFO catchers were the collectible card video games, medal games, regular arcade games, rhythm games and print club machines. We took some time to try out a bit of everything, except the print club machines. Two adult males going into a girly photo booth to make duckface pictures and draw on them afterwards in a game center full of high school kids would probably attract the police.
The highlight of the day was trying out Dark Escape 4D, a zombie shooting game. 3 of the D’s came from the screen courtesy of 3D glasses, and the 4th D was the moving seat and sudden bursts of air designed to scare the player. The guns feature heart rate sensors and will register any spikes in heart rate or removing your hands from the handles as a “panic attack”. The game cabinet featured very loud surround speakers for an immersive game experience. Dark Escape 4D was a lot of fun, although it did get a little predictable after a few minutes. Talk talk talk SURPRISE ZOMBIES!!! Don’t worry guys the coast is clear and ZOMBIES!!!! Hey, let’s climb into the air vent and OMG ZOMBIES IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Despite being predictable, it was a lot of fun, even for cynical jerks like me.
My day finished off with a trip to Don Kihote to pick up souvenirs. My gym buddy, Karate Junk is a big fan of rum. I was determined to find a bottle of Japanese rum to bring back home. Japan is known for sake and whiskey, but rum is no terribly popular nor easily available. After much searching and katakana reading practice, I was able to locate the one bottle of Japanese rum in the store’s expansive liquor section. Spoiler alert: it was pretty good.
If I could spend every day eating Wagyu beef and shooting 4D zombies, I would die a happy man.