Thursday, 1 March 2018

A look back at Tokyo Leisureland, Odaiba

In my last blog I talked about my visit to Tokyo Leisureland, which was formerly Neo Geo World.  Sadly I have since discovered that the venue closed in July 2017.  Located in the Pallette Town entertainment complex, Tokyo Lesisureland was a huge amusement space featuring arcade games, a haunted house and ninja castle, karaoke, bowling, billiards, batting and even a fishing pond!  As a tribute to this awesome arcade, here are some pics of the venue from my visit back in 2011.

After spending the day at Sega Joypolis, we walked in the direction of the Daikanransha ferris wheel and passed these buildings, which I think have a bit of a Blade Runner vibe.

Adjacent to the ferris wheel is Tokyo Leisureland.  The arcade had a great selection of dedicated machines, old and new, and some of these machines I have never seen anywhere else.

The awesome Tetris Giant, known as Tetris Dekaris in Japan.

GTI Club: Rally Côte d'Azur and Supermini Festa!  I love how the new version has a restaurant theme, complete with menu board and awning.

The only Tokyo Bus Guide arcade cabinet I’ve ever seen.

My wife cracking the whip on Akumajō Dracula: The Arcade.  Note the look of sheer menace on her face!

The Blast on the left features Akai Katana, one of my favourite shooters.  The middle Blast features RC de Go!, complete with dedicated panel.  If you know what the game is on the right please let me know in the comments.

Developed by AM1 and released in 1999 on Sega Naomi hardware, Ring Out 4x4 is a vehicular combat game.  The cabinet design clearly borrows a lot from the arcade classic Hot Rod.  It’s a shame the game never received a Dreamcast home conversion. 

There is nothing quite like sneaking up on someone whilst on the back of a panda!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

New Arrival – SNK Super Neo 29 Type II

The Future Is Now
First a little story.  Between 1997 and 2004 I worked on a tanker, transporting liquefied natural gas from Brunei to Japan.  We would discharge at various ports near Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka every three weeks or so.  Quite often we would go to Sodegaura.  Sodegaura had a small street, a shopping mall and a few small bars and eateries.  If I only had a couple of hours ashore, I’d do a bit of shopping and have a few beers and some Yakitori chicken.  One shop sold games, and I still have the used but minty Axelay I picked up.  The company put on a courtesy bus from Sodegaura to Chiba, with a journey time of about one hour.  When I had more time ashore I’d go to Chiba.  Chiba was a great run ashore, with loads of shops, bars, restaurants and excellent arcades.  And Akihabara was only a forty minute train ride from Chiba.  Shore leave in Japan was one of the great things about the job, and as an engineer I’d always volunteer to work the early stand-by shift going in to port to get the afternoon and evening ashore.

So what’s all this got to do with a SNK Super Neo cab?  Well on the bus ride to Chiba, we always passed Neo Geo Bowl, a large arcade / bowling alley run by SNK.  I don’t have many gaming regrets, but one of them is never asking the bus driver to stop and spending the afternoon there. 

Image 1

Image 2
In 2011 we visited Tokyo Leisureland arcade, Odaiba. 

The venue was formerly the infamous Neo Geo World.  Opening March 1999, the venue featured rows of machines showcasing Neo Geo titles, as well as rides, bowling, karaoke, restaurants, shopping and cinema.  Neo Geo World closed March 2001 and later re-opened as Tokyo Leisureland.  It was nice that the venue still housed an arcade, but NGW and the awesome SNK candy cabinets were long gone.

It is likely my SNK Super Neo Type II cab came from one of these SNK amusement parks.  Who knows, maybe it came from the one I used to drive past all those years ago.

Image 3
About The Cab
I have a New Astro City which is my dedicated vertical shooter cab, and I really liked the idea of getting another 29” cab with the monitor set to horizontal.  The cab currently has Akai Katana installed.

There were several versions of the Super Neo 29 cabinet.  The Super Neo 29 was wired for MVS in stereo, and had a select button and space on the marquee for four Neo mini marquees.  

The Super Neo 29 Candy was wired for Jamma in mono.  In addition to the version with the ‘Super Neo 29 Candy’ marquee, there is also a ‘pop’ version with an insertion space on the marquee for arcade art and logos.  

The Super Neo 29 Type II was wired for the Hyper Neo Geo.  Some versions came with an LCD fitted in the Hyper Neo Geo marquee to show the game to spectators.  

Interestingly the seller told me that the cab used to be owned by a guy from Ignition Software, who handled all of the UK home console SNK releases during the PS2 and Xbox era.

A couple of feet were slightly bent and needed straightening.  When I was loading the cab onto the tail lift van, I straightened one of the feet and found a 50 Yen coin had become trapped next to it!

The Good
-It’s a fully working SNK candy cab!
-The cab is totally original and in great condition with only a few minor marks.

-The monitor is very nice with no noticeable burn.
-The side art is in excellent condition with no rips or tears.

-The cab is extremely clean.
-It came complete with manual and keys.
-The amount of space available for PCB’s is awesome!  I’m thinking of constructing a shelf to store multiple boards.

The Not So Good
-There is some slight cigarette burn on the control panel upper near the instruction strip space.  I will probably just leave this.  It’s not too intrusive and all part of the character.
-The plastic monitor surround is a bit yellowed.
-Spares and parts seem to be much harder to source compared with my trusty NAC.

A massive thanks to Jamie (Arcade Otaku) for this awesome cab.

Image 1: Neo Geo Bowl, Chiba - Remains the copyright of John Anderson.
Image 2: Neo Geo Land, from Neo Geo Freak - 1996 September issue.
Image 3: Neo Geo Land, Osaka - Source 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The King of Arcades – A look back at Nanboya Arcade, Osaka

‘No need to book up’, I had told the Mrs.  ‘There are loads of hotels in Osaka, and I know a great one’.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the place I had in mind, time was getting on and finding a bed for the night was proving difficult.  We must have looked somewhat lost as a kind local stopped and asked if he could assist.  After explaining our plight, he took us to a hotel and even managed to negotiate a cheaper rate!  We dumped our bags, left the hotel for a bite to eat and just happened to pass Nanboya Arcade. 

The arcade was located on a busting street adjacent to a crossing, and looked very similar to The King of Fighters ’98 Osaka stage.

A worn sun faded Gradius poster in the window hinted at the awesome selection of classic cabinets inside. 

The arcade was decrepit and filthy, the cabinets stained nicotine brown from years of cigarette smoke.  In other words, a proper old school Japanese arcade!

The arcade had an awesome line up of rare candy cabs, including Irem Madonna’s, Namco Consolette, Jaleco Pony’s, Konami Domy Jr, Nintendo Vs, and SNK Candy Cabinets.  The arcade felt anachronistic and I was amazed to find such an arcade still exists. 

There was a nice selection of games, including Alien vs. Predator, Donkey Kong, Mr Driller G, Raiden II, Strikers 1999, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, as well as various Neo Geo MVS and Mahjong titles.

Playing Namco Classic Collection on the Domy Jr.  I love these cabinets!

The Mrs getting excited with Bomber Man World.

The next day we just so happened to walk past the hotel I was originally looking for.  I’m so glad we didn’t find it or else we may never have stumbled upon this awesome arcade.

I have seen Nanboya arcade featured in two Japanese publications.  First up is Joystick Gamers! Video Game Photo Magazine #2. 

This magazine features beautiful photographs of old school Japanese arcades and candy cabs.  Below are some shots of Nanboya Arcade.

Next we have the fan made Arcade Manual series.  Each book in the series focuses on a particular candy cab and in the Namco Consolette 26 edition the author visits Nanboya Arcade.

Jeff / Rancor (Shmups / Arcade Otaku) very kindly translated these pages for me.

The write up on page 16 and 17 is a review of the arcade.  The author writes about how it was the first arcade that he had ever seen an actual Namco Consolette in, and it was a shame that is was so deserted.  Apparently it’s quite large and has many other candy cabs that are not often seen (Madonna, Domy Jr, Nintendo Vs, DECO etc).  He stayed there for about three hours, and only saw five customers come and go, and he wonders how much longer the arcade can stay open.  Since the air conditioning was cold (he was there in August) he thinks that maybe people just came in to cool down, and didn’t actually want to play any games.  A few just sat in chairs and played their smartphones for a bit before leaving.  He uploaded a video of the arcade to the URL.

He’d like to be able to spend more time in the arcade to make some 3D models of the machines.  Apparently this arcade is quite special.

On page 17 he just describes the neighbourhood that it’s in, as well as how to find the shop.  He says it’s quite grimy on the outside and is in a run down neighbourhood next to a place that sells grilled chicken.

Many thanks once again to Jeff for the translation.