Please note this was written in 2010…
PenPen again for more inane rambling about why you should check out Hong Kong arcades! If you haven’t read the first one on the basics (and the all important KOF), I implore that you take a gander here. Seeing that it’s the internets, you’ll probably skip that link thinking it’s Rickrolling.
So in the last installment, we talked about what HK arcades are about and some fighting games. This time around, we’re going to talk about the Los Angeles Clippers other games available in Hong Kong arcades. Since I’ve written so much, I’ve decided to drag this on longer as a three-parter (and on my third one I’ll say let’s make it 4 articles…hah!).
You wanna race it out? Sure you do! And in Hong Kong, racing games are definitely one of the “in” things to do in arcades. Here’s one thing to expect though. If you want to wait for the machine to be available, if it’s occupied, expect to stand until their stack of coins is used up. As you remember, you need to put a coin (as per normal following rules), but racing games bend this rule a little to become “it’s probably your turn until I finish up the stack of coins you see.” So don’t go smacking someone with a Chinese dragon tattoo all over his/her body when they keep ploinking coins into their racing machines.
What racing games usually has now are save cards. It’s like a name card with a magnetic strip on them. It’s usually used for storing your car’s data. Since popularized by Sega’s Initial D: Arcade Stage, these save cards can be bought straight from the machine. Some save cards, like the later versions of Initial D, uses a hard plastic card instead, or something different for another racing game. I’m not going to say how much these cards are since every arcades’ costs are slightly different, but in case you didn’t know, you need to pay extra, and for the hard plastic card ones, you need to pay a lot more than a round’s worth of coins. Racing games that are more commonly available are:
– Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX: One of the biggest racing games in Hong Kong arcades. In short game-wise, choose a car, make a save card out of it (optional), and then race it out in the totally incomprehensible story mode (your opponents speak gibberish in English), time trial or ghost battle, where you can duke it out with another player’s ghost car. It also supports 4 player races, and this is usually the preferred game between friends and strangers alike. The game is based on the racing manga/anime Wangan Midnight, which is actually pretty good once you got to read it as a car enthusiast. Expect each game to cost at most $5 HKD.
– Initial D: Arcade Stage v3: Formerly the king of racing games, now replaced by Wangan Midnight. In its heyday, people actually line up to play this machine and every arcade has at least 2 of them. They still have them now but it’s more for nostalgia’s sake (the game was out for a few years already). If you don’t know what Initial D is already, wiki it up. The games are basically racing on mountain passes against each other. Is super cheap now, so you can probably play at $1 HKD/round at most arcades that have it.
– Initial D: Arcade Stage 4/5: This is a huuuuuuuge departure from what v3 was. In fact, you can say that it’s a totally new game with the Initial D name slapped on it. In comparison to v3, the physics are rather wacky, where most people would say it’s more like the car’s running on ice. The latter versions of ID:AS4 and ID:AS5 have this feature. Due to the huge change from v3, these two versions are rarely found, and usually costs around $4 HKD/round. ID:AS4 may also have English versions, and Tokyopop character nicknames. In Japan, ID:AS5 can be linked online throughout the nation, but in HK it’s only limited to local play.
– Battle Gear 4: Simply put, this game is much more realistic than all the above games. Heck, even the arcade cabinet has a freaking rollcage and real shift sticks and so on. I’d probably say that this is more in-tune with Gran Turismo than Initial D. Unfortunately I haven’t dabbled much into this game, but if you choose to do so, your save card comes in the form of a car key (yes, car key). You don’t get to see many of these, but some larger arcades may carry 1-2 of them. Cost varies.
– Thrill Drive 2: One thing first, there IS a Thrill Drive 3, which is like Thrill Drive 2 with choppy framerates and you’re required to wear a seat belt due to the force feedback if you crash. And you won’t find that around much. But you may come across Thrill Drive 2, which is a great test of your very own reflexes and driving skills. Basically, you can take your car/truck/bus/lorry/armored truck/F-1 racer to various places and try to meet the goal. As you go along, your car will probably smash something up, and it slowly gets deformed and broken, and the game actually accesses how much you’d be paying for on the damages you made. Simply awesome. But this is probably now a relic-ish game, but if you come across this, do me a favor and toss in $2 HKD to keep it alive a little longer.
– Mario Kart Arcade GP: The bastard child of Namco and Nintendo, the Mario Kart Arcade GP is a Mario Kart racing game with too many vivid colors. You don’t see it around much since it’s mostly Mario Kart, and the NDS version would be a much better choice if you’re playing this. You’ll probably see this around in some arcades, and it has a nifty feature of taking your picture for an in-game portrait (with obligatory Mario/Toad/whatever costume/headgears). I’ll be honest here – I’ve played Mario Kart games for a loooong while (loved almost every one of them), and I hate this with a passion. Enough said.
– Other racing games: Well, if you would like to venture in the land of bus driving, one of the arcade I visited sometime ago has a bus simulator, next to this 18-wheeler simulator. So yeah, thanks to Japan we can drive buses. And trains actually! Densha-de-Go may have one-two machines in the whole Hong Kong. But basically on both, you’ll need to get the process right, you’ll need to get the speed right, and you have no idea what moonspeak they’re talking/writing on the screen. Good luck figuring it out. But it does seem quite fun.
Shoot Em Up
To be honest, aside from Metal Slug, I don’t play much shooters (this is including the vertical shooters and bullet hell). But there is a niche market here, and generally larger arcades will get to import one or two machines. Metal Slug on the other hand, was pretty popular for a while as a niche game, but now the only Metal Slug (without playing those rom loaders…which I should mention later) that’s getting more playtime is 6, and even that is hard to find. Most of the shooting games available are bullet hell ones.
Below are just games I’ve…seen. I haven’t played any of them, unfortunately.
– Mushihime-sama/Mushihime-same Futari
– DeathSmiles/DeathSmiles II
Actually, I think I just listed 3 of the shooters made by Cave. Erm…okay. Anyway, if you haven’t tried them, expect to die fast, die early, and since you’ll probably have only 1 life to start with, your money may be better spent elsewhere. If not, then you are a man, and you are a great man.
Here we’re going to talk about music games. (Un)fortunately, you won’t find much DDR machines anymore, which started this whole benami music thingy from Konami. Basically, seeing that people loved DDR in its heyday, Konami just decided to make pretty much every instrument there is as an arcade game, except for ones where you need to use your mouth I suppose (Konami, I want SaxophoneMania). And after so many years, these games are pretty established in the arcade industry, and if you even have any rooting interest in playing music at somewhere without relation to Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you can check out the arcades.
Before you want to ask: How many games/versions are there? Don’t worry, Wikipedia has us covered. I’m not going to list every freaking game out there. Just the major ones.
Firstly there’s two special games out there which I’d like to warrant your attention. GuitarFreaks and Drummania machines (the latest ones) are usually paired together. And this is actually because they can actually link with each other (ZOMG)! This means that you can cooperate with your drummer/guitarist on the next machine playing the same song. It’s pretty nifty, especially if you’re doing it in an arcade.
Adding to that, the later versions also allow you to faceoff online against folks online. It’s kind of like a guitar/drum duel where both sides play the same song, with the same beats they need to make, and determine the winner with the higher score. But you will need Konami’s e-Amusement pass, which is like hard plastic save card that you must purchase beforehand at the exchange counter. The bad side is that it’s quite expensive. The good side is that you can keep the same card for many games that Konami makes (eg. Winning Eleven arcade).
On GuitarFreaks and DrumMania, the latest version here should be V6, even though V5 is still around in arcades. Each game’s costs varies but you can expect it to be within the $5 HKD – $8 HKD range. The number of songs you can play each time usually ranges from 2-3, it usually depends on the arcade who’s setting them. The music varies, but does include cover versions of j-rock music, so if you like those, you may at least want to see people play them.
Aside from this, some arcades may also contain a game called “jubeat” which is also from Konami, but instead of having an actual instrument, you are pressing buttons to make the beats. Think of it as NDS Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents with actual buttons to press, I guess (but there’s one more down there which is a lot more like Ouendan/EBA).
It’s a pretty weird game from the looks (see pic) but the buttons actually have mini-screens on them, which is really neat. And when the song’s playing the buttons actually combine together to form a larger screen. It’s not too expensive (say $5-$7 HKD), but it does get a few people playing, so you’ll have to wait.
Konami stuff aside, there’s two more games I’d like you to check out. One of them is obvious, Namco’s Taiko no Tatsujin. By now you’ve probably seen stuff like these. In short, you’re playing a biiiigggg Japanese drum with super cartoony backgrounds. Think this game is for kiddies? Think again. But, if you happen to have a (girl)friend who’s coming along with you, play this with her and she’ll probably enjoy the game quite a bit (just don’t go over to the rightmost drum when you start the game). Game usually costs around $5 HKD, and you’ll get to play 3 songs or more in maximum, depending on the arcade’s settings. The music usually consists of a mix of j-pop, anime OPs, video games, old Japanese songs and classical music (and more).
The last music game I’m talking about is DJ Max Technika. Unlike 80% of the arcade games, this is actually made from the country right next to North Korea, South Korea. You’ll want to check the wiki entry here. I didn’t play it, but if you ask me, it’s like a Korean arcade version of Ouendan/EBA, but instead of a free-flowingish way of pressing the dots on a touchscreen, there’s this moving line from left to right/vice versa, and you must touch the dot right when it scrolls to that particular dot. Again, it’s one of those easy-on-concept-hard-on-execution kind of games. It also features beeeeeeeautiful animation? (see video below with actual gameplay) so you should at least check out the game. Available in the larger arcades, should cost around $3-5 HKD/round.
Holy sheep, I wrote a huge wall of text already, and I think I only covered about half of what I wanted. Part 3 is now a necessity, people. I haven’t covered the card-based stuff and larger machines yet, along with arcade locales, so I’ll keep you all tuned. Until next time, be safe and hopefully we’ll wrap up everything then (hopefully).
- Part 3 Lightguns, special cabinets plus arcade locations