Where’s the first place any self-respecting nerdydork goes when he lands in Nippon? Sushi, obviously. And then to look at a castle. But after that, he hits the arcades.
I hadn’t been in Japan for a week, so the idea of being on the other side of the planet, and living amongst a civilsation that had grown up and developed a completely different culture to the one I was used to, hadn’t sunk in. After a day of training for the new job, myself and a couple of fellow intrepid dweebs set off on a bit of an exploration mission. We visited Nagoya castle. Reconstructed after a dragon attack or World War 2 or something, the innards of Nagoya Castle are now a pretty damn entertaining museum.
While that was interesting and fun, it felt more like looking at Japan in a textbook. It wasn’t until I wandered into town and discovered a sizeable arcade that it really hit me. The school girls giggling at the puri-kura photobooths as they use a touchscreen to draw clown makeup on their faces, the Coolest Guy In The World ever-so-coolly notsmoking the cigarette limply hanging from his bottom lip, as he plays a mind-blowingly fast rhythm game with almost disdainful apathy. The UFO Catcher games where people are actually winning things. I was actually in Japan.
Right, enough teary-eyed pseudo-diary…ing, let’s check out some of the music that battered my eardrums upon my arrival:
Reflec Beat is best described as ‘rhythm pong’, only instead of using a paddle, you tap on your defensive line in time with the music to bounce the puck away. With holds, triple-taps and power-ups, the Competitive Musical Virtual Table Tennis genre – as I’m dubbing it – has never been better. It’s also never really existed until this, if you’re being picky. Here are a couple of my favourite tracks from its lovely, bouncy, manic playlist.
Jubeat, despite how it looks, feels a bit more like Guitar Hero with the patterns demand of your fingers at the right moments in songs. It’s also really friggin’ hard, and I can only assume the people who play on ‘extreme’ difficulty have been squatting in their local arcade and have made a career of playing Jubeat for money.