Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japans Game Centers By Brian Ashcraft

Home of Sega, Nintendo, and Sony, Japan has a unique and powerful presence in the world of video games. Another thing that makes Japan unique in the gaming world is the prevalence of game arcades. While the game arcade scene has died in the U.S., there are 9,500 game centers in Japan with more than 445,000 game machines.
Arcade Mania introduces overseas readers to the fascinating world of the Japanese gemu senta. Organized as a guided tour of a typical game center, the book is divided into nine chapters, each of which deals with a different kind of game, starting with the UFO catchers and print club machines at the entrance and continuing through rhythm games, fighting games, shooting games, retro games, gambling games, card-based games, and only-in-Japan games.
Covering classic games from Space Invaders to Street Fighter, games that are familiar to Americans in their home console versions (Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Dance, Dance Revolution), as well as the unique, quirky games found only in Japan, Arcade Mania is crammed full of interviews with game makers and star players, and packed with facts about the history, background and characteristics of each game, all lavishly illustrated with photographs and game graphics. This book is a must-have for gamers everywhere. Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japans Game Centers

I've long been a fan of Brian Ashcraft's Night Notes on and his many free lance articles in many major magazines. When I heard he was writing a book about Arcade culture in Japan I knew off the bat it would be a great read. After finishing this quick read, I was not disapointed. This book is an entertaining look at Japan's game centers, the games inside them, and some of the people who frequent them. I think this book has something for everyone and is worth a read. I especially loved how Brian featured his son Mini-Bash in the last chapter on arcade card games. If you're in the mood for something light, fun, and quick I'd highly suggest picking this one up! 4770030789 It was like a Japanese coffee table book. That is to say, a coffee table book in an octavo-sized package. The chapters were divided by arcade game type (shooting games, rhythm games, fighting games etc) Kind of interesting in a seventeen magazine kind of way (each chapter focuses on an expert in that particular game style). Published in Japan, so all of the references to price are in Yen, which I was too lazy to look up the conversion, so that was mildly frustrating but 100% my fault. 4770030789 It was a very short read, but that's okay: it offered bite sized glimpses into the world of gaming in Japan, which is evidently [i]completely[/i] different from the US. It's not particularly illuminating or deep, but it's entertaining, down to the quasi-magazine layout of the sections. 4770030789 Arcade Mania is a fast-paced tour through Japan's gaming centers, as observed by Brian Ashcraft (, Wired) and Jean Snow. You'll learn more than you ever thought you'd want to know about bullet-hell shooters, card battle games and tricked-out photo booths. It's an interesting read overall, although the writing does tend to slip into dry, chronological recounts of certain genres (e.g., In 1995, Sega released X... followed by Y the next year... only to be superceded by Z...) from time to time. 4770030789 Nice idea hamstrung by slapped-together chapters and magazine-y writing that manages to be both overexcited and bland. Nevertheless, Japan's arcades are not like ours (for one thing, they still exist). Read and learn--and emerge a little dizzy. 4770030789


This book is wonderful for anyone interested in Japanese culture. It truly exemplified the intricacies of the culture. Of the nine sections of the book, each provided insights on topics ranging from the popular (in the West) fighting games, and rhythm games to the more obscure such as crane games and sticker picture machines.

The book is presented in a family friendly manner with comments and pictures providing an immersive supplement to the text. I recommend this book to both gamers and non-gamers of all ages. 4770030789 How did anyone let this book go to print in this state? It was like if someone accidentally dropped the finished book in a paper shredder and then let their toddler glue it all together. It's sad cause you can sort of see potential in it, but with this atrocious layout it is unreadable.

But if you're a fan of House of Leaves maybe you'd get a kick out of it 4770030789 This breezy read covers the Japanese game-arcade community, as broken down into a variety of categories, including music-based games, card-based games, dedicated-cabinet games, etc. Each chapter handles the history of its area well, running through the requisite iterative improvements -- the evolutionary changes that turned Pacman into Grand Theft Auto -- and interviewing programmers, players, and other digital-entertainment figures. The list-like nature of the writing can become a bit routine after a few chapters, and the interviews are less insightful than one might hope for, but extra points for including among them a model for one of the major photo-booth franchises (heck, extra points for including the photo booths in the first place) and the manager of a retro-gaming mecca. The book is designed like a very long magazine article, with colorful headers and little sidebars.
4770030789 My main complaint here is the layout. There are chapters, and within each chapters are multiple pages that deviate from the main story. Which is fine, but I wish these other pages and subsections came at more opportune moments, when there's a break in the main story where I can move to the box, then jump back into the story.

I have this almost compulsive problem with things like footnotes. Which is what stopped me reading David Foster Wallace, honestly. When I see a long-ass footnote, I HAVE to read it, but by the time I get back into the book I have no goddamn idea what I was reading about before. It makes me crazy. And I wish I could just ignore them, but I can't. Call it a disease, call it whatever you want just so long as you help me seek the medical attention I clearly need here.

Probably the most interesting thing I learned about Japanese arcades, in some cases they have games like Street Fighter II back-to-back. So if I'm fighting a stranger, I can't actually see who it is. And in fact, it's considered poor etiquette to look. It's a really interesting way to set it up, and I wonder if it isn't better, especially when you're talking about playing against a stranger. The side-by-side American version makes a person get a lot cozier than I'm comfortable with.

Oh, and also, I have to make a slight slam on the book for perpetuating the mostly-debunked myth that Space Invaders caused a Yen shortage in Japan upon its release. Although it's kind of hard to prove that something never happened, there have been some darn thorough reviews seeking times when it definitely did (http://allincolorforaquarter.blogspot...) and the most compelling evidence is the question brought up in this article ( which is: Why would an arcade owner allow a goldmine to sit in a machine as opposed to emptying it out and cashing it in?

Anyway, it makes sense that the story has legs. It's a great story. It's very demonstrative of the sudden power and draw of video games. But, to be honest, the greatness of the story, our desire to think it's true, seems to be the main proof.
4770030789 Interesting book for a quick read, but a bit thin on detail. Nice idea for the presentation to split the chapters into the various floors of a Japanese arcade. 4770030789

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