Tuesday, 23 December 2008

No, really, Japan still likes Sega Pt. 1

Right, as one or two of you may recall, I did promise an article ages ago about my trip to Japan, specifically about Sega stuff there (because noone wants to know about the arduous cultural stuff and the epic journeys I entailed climbing up mountains, walking around a volcano and staying in a very dodgy capsule hotel in Osaka’s probable red light district). Well, I finally got around to writing the article which, like Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy, definitely isn’t worth the wait but should be mildly enjoyable none the less!

^ Authentic photo taken by me. ‘Deckss’ was the name given to this huge department store-esque complex assembled in Odaiba.

More after the jump.

Staying in Tokyo for a rather significant portion of my trip, I did get a chance to visit the Sega Joypolis located in the Odaiba area (which is an amazing area in itself, built on land ‘reclaimed from the sea’, adorned with the rather awesome looking Fuji TV building amongst various other things).

^ An actual picture of the actual tickets I used on my actual visits. I love that the first one is dated 10th of May, when I only arrived on the 9th. Clearly I waste no time.
In fact, I actually went there twice as I ‘book-ended’ my Japan trip with Tokyo and figured why not go again? Now, I have to say, the Joypolis isn’t amazing. It isn’t bad either mind, but it wasn’t quite as mind blowing as Sega World London. It was fairly pricey, though.
^ Picture definitely stolen from some guy on Flickr. Cheers!
Sega Joypolis Tokyo is effectively a rather elaborate arcade, adorned with lots of games (both video and prize-earning) and the occasional indoor amusement park ride, which were actually rather nifty. However, each one cost £4 a pop I believe, which was somewhat steep having also paid an entrance fee of around a fiver as well. Add rides to arcade prices and if you’re on a cheap travelling budget, you’re basically not eating for a few days. Stingy rant aside, what were the ‘rides’ like? They were pretty good, actually. There was this ‘Bullet Ride’ sort of roller coaster thing that was actually quite frightening in that I was almost fully confident that the thing was going to break and I would fall to my death. Definitely added that extra fear factor, that’s for sure. Quite fun mind, but what was far better was The House of the Dead 4 Special.
^ Picture again very much stolen from someone on Flickr. When I went there, they had actually moved things around a bit, but whatever.
Basically, HotD4S is an extra mission to HotD4. Everything was in Japanese, so of course I had no clue what the plot was or anything of that ilk – I was really just there to shoot some zombies. But what makes it different to normal HotD shenanigans? Well, first you go into a small darkened ‘cubicle’ thing and strap yourself in to the two seater chair (there were two of us, don’t worry; I wasn’t staring longingly at the empty seat beside me wishing I had a travel companion). Then the screen in front of you will light up and you will see some normal HotD tomfoolery, at which point you pick up your gun and get ready to blow things up. Now things finally get interesting. The chair rocks as you get hit and will move about to simulate what’s going on on-screen. Furthermore, there is fantastic surround sound and little bits of smoke emitted (although, it is very possible that didn’t happen and my memory just added it in it’s rose-tinted glory), at appropriate moments, sort of ushering illusions of that ‘4D’ concept that used to be so big half a decade or so ago. The best part however is when your characters are just walking along and hear something behind you, and woosh – your two-seater chair just swivels around to reveal another screen behind you, showing what would be behind you in-game. There’s a lot of switching from back and forth and it does a great job at immersing you in the experience. Unfortunately, if you’re a bit shit at HotD4S (like we were), the joyous experience doesn’t last very long. Still, it was pretty fantastic and I’d love to see one of these machines hit the UK (although I have a feeling that would be fairly unlikely).
Arcades are pretty standard everywhere in Japan and most of them seemed to stock the same games. Taito Drum Master, Pop N’ Music, Virtua Fighter 6, Tekken 6 etc. and Sega Joypolis was no different (although, they might have omitted Tekken 6 now that I think about it). However, one machine did stick out to me when wondering around the Joypolis, exploring its delights.
^ Picture couldn’t be more stolen from Wikipedia if I tried.
Yes folks. Here it is. A The Typing of the Dead arcade machine. You can bet yourself that I immediately stopped everything I was doing to have a go on this. Unsurprisingly it plays exactly like the PC version, except using Japanese words instead of English. They were written in standard English characters however, so I actually managed to get fairly far (although after a while, it was very confusing to be typing rakamijikosho and things of that ilk… and no, that just isn’t real Japanese at all). Surprisingly, this wasn’t the only TotD machine I’d see on my travels. Oh no. The name of the city escapes me right now (which is bad on my part, as we did spend a couple of nights there), but another machine randomly appeared in a non-Sega arcade of this aforementioned city.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos within the Joypolis itself, so a handful of these are stolen from other places, but as expected, everything was adorned with Sonic’s smug mug. Indeed, this is an understandably common trend in Sega-branded arcades and was pleasantly received by me. However, for all the Sonic imagery on the prize-grabbing machines downstairs, not one of them offered Sonic plushes, much to my infinitely nerdy disappointment. However, the Joypolis Shop rectified this issue slightly, selling not only plushes, but Sonic confectionary amongst other random goods. The confectionary was actually a bit outrageously priced so I decided to leave it, but I did come back with this little beanie for the decent price of a fiver.
It had to be done, really. The little git now adorns my computer desk. However, the crowning moment of the entire Joypolis visit was this;
^Yes, I am aware of how hilariously cheesy this photo is.
Check me out, desperately clinging on to my childhood. Fantastic times. I can’t help but feel the Japanese Sonic costume man at Joypolis is a billion times more impressive that the hilariously deformed Sonic from SegaWorld London. Anyway, that about wraps up this instalment. Hopefully the next part won’t take too long to finish, but I make no guarantees!


The GagaMan(n) said...

Holy shit Virtua Fighter 6 we have a top exclusive folks! =P

I'd love to get me a proper Pop N Music controller for the two games of it I own on the Dreamcast. Mind you, these are the first two games while the series is up to about 18 installments now, with everything set to stupidly fast hardcore mode. Also the Typing of the Dead cabinet is awesome, I like how it quite literally appaers to have two standard keyboards glued to it.

Smindas said...

Wait. Wait. I meant 5 didn't I? Oh dear.

I saw the Pop N Music controller for around £2 in a game shop, but I just wouldn't have had space for it in my luggage, which was very unfortunate otherwise I would've totally snapped it up. And yes, fast hardcore Pop N Music is batshit insane.

The GagaMan(n) said...

£2? Darn, they seem to fetch about £30 on Ebay. Looking forward to hearing more, if there is indeed more Sega-ness to tell! =)