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Arcades in Japan.

Because real estate is at a serious premium in Tokyo, most of the arcades I visited were five or six stories tall, each level usually organized by game type. On the first floor you had the "UFO catcher" cranes, and as you went higher and higher the games got a little more serious and the eye candy value dropped accordingly. By the last level, it's just rows and rows of sit-down multi-button fighting videogames in plastic shells stared at by glassy-eyed teenagers. We should all meet up and fight each other, videoly.

(You may also enjoy Toys in Japan)

Dog v. Dog Typing Madness. (Asakusa)

Sure, you've had contests with your friends over the internet to see whose dog can type the fastest. But why not eliminate the middleman! Now with DogStation, it's head-to-head dog typing action! Now with Dual Anti-Slobber Laser.

Just Another Japanese Yakuza Head-To-Head Typing Video Game. (Akihabara)

Here's another head-to-head typing game. As you can see by the marquee up top, you and your opponent are members of the yakuza, using keyboards to simulate guns.

"Wow, it's almost like I'm shooting at you, but with characters."

Just Another Japanese Yakuza Head-To-Head Typing Video Game. (Akihabara)

Typist 1 has a mullet. Don't pick him!

Furlong. (Asakusa)

Namco is always bringing the esoteric. I'm not sure what you actually do here, I didn't see a video riding crop or gear shift.

Downhill Bikers. (Asakusa)

This was right around the corner from the Driveway Snow-Shovelling videogame. The friendly red light and big button on the wall to the right of the machine is the fire alarm. Boy did I learn that a few times while I was in Japan.

Video blackjack. (Asakusa)

This is a blackjack game with a video of a blackjack dealer. During "attract" mode when no one's playing it, "she" "looks" around the room in this creepy disembodied way, because of course she's not actually there. But it wasn't just that, it was that she did this in total silence. It just made it that much more odd. Might have been a language thing ("for the international markets, instead of actually finding someone who speaks Japanese, just have her deal in silence"), might have been a tech thing ("it's cheaper").

It reminded me of the shooting games they had back in the 1970s -- huge curtained contraptions that would play film clips of a guy walking on top of a train (for example), and you were supposed to fire your big ole' light-diode rifle if it turned out he was a bad guy and pulled a gun on you. Then, twenty years later, someone came out with a similar game called Mad Dog MacRee.

Now, ten years after that, here we are. You can see how popular these types of games are.

Some ball thing. (Asakusa)

This is some ball thing.

Happy Planet. (Asakusa)

I'm not sure what's going on with the controllers, it looks like you can insert a cheese sandwich into one of those things.

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