6 Arcade Games Too Awesome to Get Released in the West

When's the last time you went to an arcade? Maybe you were feeling nostalgic and wanted to see what awesome games they've invented in the last few decades, only to find ... games quite a bit worse than the stuff you have on your home consoles.

What the hell? There was a time when you went to arcades to play games that were bigger, better and more advanced than anything you could get at home. It's like one day game companies decided to stop making those.

The thing is, they didn't stop. They simply stopped bringing those games to the West. Games like ...

#6. Sonic Blast Heroes, the Dinosaur-Punching Simulator


In Sonic Blast Heroes, you take on the role of a man who punches everything in his path for no discernable reason,* allowing you to recreate the experience of being dangerously drunk within the safety of an amusement arcade. Your entire purpose in this game is to knock out things like a dinosaur, a giant octopus and an 18-wheel semi truck while screaming furious, incoherent exclamations.

*No discernable reason = It's all in Japanese.

Afterward you wake up in some kid's room, soaked in puke and surrounded by smashed toys.

As awesome as that sounds, this isn't exactly an outrageous plot for a Japanese video game -- we're talking about the same medium that has conditioned us to accept a turtle-jumping, mushroom-eating plumber as something normal. The difference is that in this case, the game is played by literally throwing punches at the machine.

What are you supposed to do if it eats your coins?

The game comes with a boxing glove and a pad that rises out the cabinet to let you know that it's punching time. The harder you hit the pad, the more damage you deal to the inexplicable enemies mentioned above, sending them flying into the background. Whoever throws the strongest punch wins the game, apparently.

Once again, the tyrannosaur's tiny, girlish arms are his undoing.

Also, the graphics in this thing are actually pretty great. Just take a look at those incredibly realistic and detailed backgrounds:

Seconds before complete obliteration.

Oh, and did we mention that one of the stages involves punching a giant meteor to pieces? Apparently, the Japanese version of Armageddon would have lasted 10 seconds.

Where You Can Find It:

The game was released only in Japan this past August. So what are the chances that it will be imported into the U.S.? Well, considering that it's a sequel to a 1990 arcade game that was recalled in America in 1995 for causing around 70 cases of "fractured or injured wrists and arms," we'd say they're not very good. Which is a shame, because the old version had crappy graphics and didn't even have dinosaurs.

The wrists of America just weren't up to the challenge.

So if you suddenly feel the urge to get shitfaced and go punch a truck, looks like you're gonna have to do it the old-fashioned way.

#5. Let's Go Island 3D, the Big-Screen 3-D Shark Shooting Game (For Couples)


Let's Go Island 3D is a "date game" where you and your SO can sit in front of a 52-inch screen and pretend you're going on a relaxing vacation to the Caribbean. And by relaxing vacation, we mean this:

Killer shark attack explosion!

We can't say we're shocked to find out that Japan's idea of a romantic getaway includes shooting the shit out of giant killer sea monsters that jump at you from all sides as you're dragged across an island by a speeding boat. As insane as that sounds, the actual game looks even crazier. Oh, and it's all in glasses-less 3-D.

If the 3-D isn't immersive enough for you, it also has air compressors that blow bursts of air in your face to emphasize the most dramatic moments, while spattering you with real bits of shark flesh for added realism (or at least that seems like something it would do).

We're gonna need a bigger ... oh, nope, that's great.

We weren't kidding about the romantic part, by the way: The game encourages you to play with a partner and, amid all the insane graphic violence, it includes several mini-games that rate your compatibility as a couple, which is measured in hearts. It's a perfect ice breaker for a first date, or you can play it with a friend and subsequently avoid eye contact for a week.

"Well, honey, if the killer shark game thinks so, I guess we have no choice but to file for divorce."

Where You Can Find It:

Date games, even really awesome ones, simply aren't that big outside of Japan. Apparently Let's Go Island 3D's 2-D pirate-themed predecessor reached American shores in small amounts, but it doesn't look like they're in any rush to bring over this new version. In the meantime, you and your date will have to settle for a good old-fashioned round of Mortal Kombat.

"If you play as Raiden one more goddamn time I'll poison your oatmeal."

#4. Heat Up Hockey, Psychedelic Futuristic Air Hockey


Imagine a parallel reality where air hockey tables didn't stop evolving at the end of the '70s -- a reality where that sad, half-broken machine gathering dust at the back of the arcade is, by now, all digitalized and cool. This bizarre alternate reality exists: it's called Japan.

Also, in Japan real hockey is now played by robots.

This isn't touchscreen technology, but almost -- Sega's Heat Up Hockey uses a large overhead projector to display digital images on top of the table, while over 80 sensors on every side track the movements of the puck, allowing it to interact with the images. If the puck hits any of the block-like shields projected in front of the goal area, a physical panel behind it will go down and let you score.

It's like Pong and Arkanoid had an awesome giant baby.

You can even adjust shield numbers to impose handicaps, and on top of this, the game includes moving targets that act as power-ups when the puck moves over them. You can also enter various bonus stages like the trippy silhouette stage ...


... or the utterly disconcerting dummy puck stage.

Both of these will kill you if you're already high.

Where You Can Find It:

Only in Japan, apparently. This despite the fact that it's completely in English (we wouldn't want to get lost in the game's complicated plot), and that the game is produced by the same company that didn't hesitate to bring you Sonic the Hedgehog. So you can wait until the next Japanese Amusement Expo and play it there ...

... or you can say fuck it and buy one for yourself, assuming you have $20,000 to spare.

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