The Arcade Experience of Anime Expo 2019

Britney Siren @ AX 2019

Arcade games and booze who could argue such a winning combination? Well if you were lucky enough to be around on Day 0 then you got to experience some wonderful free to play arcade games (in stark contrast to the arcades downstairs that were time card/timed play which I’ve never been a huge fan of) both classic and new/rare treasures provided by game Saru for one night only. As a gal who used to ride transit 3+ hours just to see what a hole in the wall place had that was different than my local stomping grounds or the big guys like Dave and Busters or Round One, this filled my heart with joy.

Some of the included gems were a lovely Bishi Bashi arcade cabinet that had folks making new friends with its quirky mini-games, simple controls, and all-around fun factor. There was also Dance Dance Rvolution Extreme which is now a classic. Finding one in such great condition is nearly impossible nowadays. I also stumbled across House of the Dead EX which is unique to the series with its mini-games and cutesy art style… a ton of candy cabinets (the sit-down kind) with various titles, one multicade which made my heart sing as it had all the shoot ’em up and puzzle games that a gal could ever want or need. Best of all if there’s ever an issue, there was always someone on hand to fix it which is nearly unheard as many arcades tend to go by a more “pay at your own risk” type of structure. I didn’t have a huge interest in paying to wait in long lines with a limited amount of time for something they may or may not work properly when there was a perfectly awesome free to play space without long lines and a general cozy vibe.

My love for arcades runs deep and long. I’ve been traveling to any one of them that I can find for over a decade. The arcades at Anime Expo arcade are a hub of sorts where I could meet old friends that I hadn’t seen for a year (sometimes years) and catch up as there’s always someone around playing in-between panels and other events. This year there was a lot missing dance game-wise that we’re always present at previous shows. There was no Para Para Paradise, no Pump it Up and even though Konami was present no Dance Dance Revolution A (ace) though I can understand that perhaps that’s due to some of the online connectivity things. I remember one-year having tons of dance games to choose from. A healthy selection of classics and light gun games… but now I feel a bit neglected in this area. Sure I could hop over and play pc games or go over to the console area but it’s not quite the same for an arcade lover.

For one shining evening, we had a hub to meet other fellow arcade lovers and try out new things and best of all make new friends. I hope that things are different next year. I would’ve preferred to have to option to simply buy credits or at least a day or a weekend pass so that if I happen to be in one of the two arcades and it’s super busy and I have less time to play I can always come back later and play more. I understand that the all mighty dollar is important but for what was there, I didn’t want to run the risk of things potentially not working and sucking it up to play games that didn’t look particularly appealing, new or unique. 

Perhaps these areas weren’t designed with the hardcore in mind. I could see how it could appeal to someone who may not have a local arcade or isn’t familiar with the many options available in the area as far as this kind of entertainment goes. Although Round 1 has multiple locations and could’ve done things a little differently, perhaps they simply brought things that weren’t out for location use and didn’t have any spare dance game cabinets. They did bring photo booths which is a big plus so I guess you can take lots of pretty photos with your friends. 

If they are to keep pay to play arcades in the future I do hope that the selection will grow a bit. At least having more of the particularly popular games would cut down on wait times so that the time card would be more worth it and maybe throw a little tournament or two? Who knows if the little whimpers of one person will make an impact but I guess it’s better than saying nothing at all. Perhaps I’m a bit biased after such an amazing experience on Day 0

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