My interest in arcade gaming is spawned from a childhood with parents who wanted me quiet and tended to have a handful on pound coins in their pockets at all times for me to run wild with. In later life, like most geeks and nerds, my interests have stretched away from a humble sea-side childhood to Asia and admiration for the home console inventiveness but also their adamant mindset to keeping arcade gaming alive in a clearly home focussed market. As such I present to whet the appetite of gamers looking at Asia the Top 5 Weirdest Arcade Machines, which all happen to be from China, Japan and Korea:
1. The Tablecloth Hour
2010 arcade game – Finally an arcade game for aspiring magicians! The Wii may have brought all kinds of crazy interactivity to the home console, but you still can’t beat dedicated arcade machines for quirky concepts, particularly those you find in Japan. The Tablecloth Hour was recently installed at the Taito Station in Shibuya for testing, and has players yanking on a small section of ‘tablecloth’ in an attempt to pull a virtual one out from under what I’m assuming is a fully set table. It seems like one of those games that might be fun to try once, which is probably why it’s located in a place with a lot of through-traffic and not a dedicated arcade.
2. Super Table-Flip!
We all get to that stage, the point of anger and stress where you feel your neck vain is about to throb so much it’s going to reach out and give you a smack up the side of the head. The anger relief needed is high, but where can you go? If you want to shoot a gun you can go paint-balling or a shooting range. Want to smash-up some plates and glasses you can go to a Greek restaurant. Want to flip a table in an overly aggressive display of raw emotion, well you head down to a Japanese games arcade, take out your yen and pump it into Taito’s Cho Chabudai Gaeshi! (Super Table-Flip!).
The game sees you in various scenarios trying to vent your virtual and real anger. You are sat around a table with your family, getting more and more worked up by the inane chatter and disrespect they are showing their middle-aged father and husband. During the 60 second rounds you must first pound on the replica table built on the front of the machine to get your families attention and show how Hulk angry you are, as the time runs down closer to zero you must grab the edges of the table with your red pulsating hands and….FLIP! Sending mugs, cups, plates, chopsticks and people flying all over the room the physics engine goes into overdrive to aid in relieving you of this pent-up frustration you must feel being a drunk business man in Japan. Extra points are gained for sending objects into certain parts of the, hit a mouse, family member or window and you are treated to an extra points bonus, seems about right.
3. Boonga Boonga
Most of the arcade machines I am talking about here are eccentric or a little bit special, Boonga Boonga however is the ultimate in weird. This game plays into all of the stereotypes people have about Asia. For better or worse this ‘game’ is essentially a perv’s dream. In Japan there is a problem on certain train/subway lines, this isn’t a sweeping statement, but much like the London Underground there are certain men who get a bit ‘pinchy’ when standing near women on a crowded train.
For these folk, and what I fear is a few others there is Boonga Boonga, a Korean title, where you are given the option of spanking, or ‘poking’ various unlikables. Be it your boss, your mother in law, or a registered sex offender. You are graded on the strength of your back hand, and much like being the manager of an office in the 1950′s you aren’t arrested for your backside patting ways.
4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield
I recently spoke about Kaiju video games, games where you take are taking on giant monsters/aliens/robots in a city environment. Well somehow this bad boy slipped my mind. For those unaware Gundam is one of many ‘brands’ that takes over the lives of the nerds and geeks in Japan (I refuse to refer to them as Otaku). Gundam is all about giant robots being used to take food to starving countries and help in earthquake zones, oh no wait, the giant robots are used to punch over giant robots. It’s hard not to get sucked into the world of Gundam if you are even the slightest bit into Japanese culture. I personally have spent many hours putting together the scale models of the Gundams with my partner.
The thought of piloting one of these mechs is an intriguing one, and with the surrounding screen inside this arcade machine it’s hard to see how this game could be anything apart from intensely immersive. With a first person perspective and pedals/sticks to control your Gundam in its aim to break other big metal suits of armour. The sheer ingenuity of the building of this gets it on this list, there have been other surround screen simulators but few have taken on a fictional world loved by so many with the aim of making the player feel truly involved.
5. Sonic Blast Heroes
I worked in a bowling alley for a short time, it was a hellish job that I would never return to, however I did enjoy the arcade that was infront of the shoe counter. As I have mentioned numerous times on this site I love a good arcade machine, lots however serve no purpose to me and escape my understanding. In this bracket are fruit machines/gambling machines, card game machines and finally boxing machines. The boxing machine at the bowling alley was a simple bit of tech, a punch bag descends from an overhead arm, you smack it like it’s your [childhood bully / overbearing parent / random person who walks near you in a bar] and then the game assigns you a score on how hard you showed that machine who’s boss.
Sonic Blast Heroes, to me, actually gives this mild achievement of punching hard a purpose, and that is punching trucks out of your way. The game equates your punching strength to distance and shows various vehicles and objects, like: Trucks and Dinosaurs, flying down a road or into the horizon, only then can you call yourself strong and/or god. There are similar games from the 90’s where you would get the opportunity to punch enemies or arm wrestle foes but they were just stress relievers, very few games are so crazy and over the top they make you feel like a deity with Mike Tyson’s right hook.