There really isn't a whole lot of new things you can do with the racing game genre, now that the graphics have reached a point where it looks a little better than real life. So what else is there to do, put a real car right in the arcade?
Not a showroom.
The Initial D series is based on a popular Japanese manga about illegal street racing, like GTA but with more flying men throwing powers, we imagine. This particular model is called Initial D Arcade Stage 4 Limited and features life-sized cars in front of three massive 90-inch HD screens -- hell, you could be sitting on a damn stool and the game would still look awesome.
Conversely, even ET would be great if you played it sitting in this thing.
But the cars aren't just for atmosphere: they move, tilt and shake realistically as you drift down virtual mountains and shout obscenities at your opponents. No word on whether it smashes itself up and deploys an air bag when you crash in the game, but we see no reason why it wouldn't do that.
After seeing that, it's a little hard to go back to normal-sized screens and tacky plastic steering wheels, isn't it?
Where You Can Find It:
Apparently there's one of these things in a mall in Dubai, but other than that, it looks like they are available exclusively in Sega-owned Joypolis centers, which are only found in Japan's largest cities. Also, did we mention that it costs 600 yen (around $5) for a single race? With the added cost of shipping that giant rig across the ocean, chances are you'd be looking at $10 or more per race if these things ever reached the States.
There are cheaper alternatives, of course.
The fundamental problem with fantasy card games is that they require being patient and using your imagination, two abilities that decades of video games have almost completely atrophied (whereas our thumbs are now superhumanly strong compared to our ancestors' -- if you don't believe us, go punch your grandfather). But seriously, if you're the type of person who can throw a card on the table and imagine a magical winged lion swooping down to destroy your opponent, we honestly envy you.
Not even "Lizard Man With Sword" can give a +5 boost to our atrophied imaginations.
It's like card games and, you know, fun ones exist at opposite ends of the same spectrum. Eternal Wheel bridges that gap by combining collectible cards with real-time game play and cool graphics. Basically, you place the physical cards on a large touch screen and digital versions of the characters depicted there will appear on the game and start shooting powers and shit.
As you move the cards across the surface, the digital copies automatically follow the same path, obliterating everything in their way. There are literally hundreds of these cards, each with different abilities, levels and stats -- like in every card game, the harder to find ones are usually the most powerful.
And like in every Japanese thing, a surprising amount of them look like schoolgirls.
And if you get bored, you can press two buttons on the side of the machine and summon eight unlockable giant monsters to make things a little more interesting. Even though you have to keep in mind stuff like not wasting your energy all at once or balancing the abilities of your characters, this still sounds infinitely more simple than playing an actual card game (unless it's like UNO or something). Also, the machine literally gives you a random new card at the end of every game.
As if saying, "There's more where that come from, baby."
Where You Can Find It:
You guessed it: only in Japan, as far as we can tell. There are actually more games that use the same technology, but their size and cost has limited their distribution to Asia.
Evil Grim Reaper Odin is displeased.
If you've never wanted to pilot a giant robot, you're probably dead inside (or you're a robot yourself, which is essentially the same thing). Sure, there are plenty of robot-themed games out there, but until one of them allows you to actually step into a large hunk of metal, it just won't be the same.
Enter the Gundam POD.
Literally, get in there.
You know those flight simulators they use to train pilots? This is like that, only it trains you to command giant battle robots, a skill that may or may not become useful once the apocalypse is upon us. The robots are taken from the classic Gundam anime series, which means that there are over 80 different models and 10 maps to choose from.
Check out the inside of the POD in this video:
This bitch has surround speakers, a projector screen, hand and feet controls and a headset that allows you to voice chat with other players. That's right -- you're not just fighting some crappy AI, you're facing off against other human players in a massive online network. If you're a regular player you can even save your name, score and more in a card that can also be used to buy new weapons and upgrades on a "Pilot Terminal" near the PODs. The terminal alone looks cooler than the best game in our local arcade.
Sorry, Ms. Pacman, it's true.
There are typically four to eight PODs in the same arcade, which means you can go with a bunch friends and fight among yourselves, like in a nerd version of Fight Club.
"Which button lets me teabag?"
Where You Can Find It:
Even though it came out in 2006, as of now this game has only been exported to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. Maybe the concern is that the Gundam series isn't that well-known in the U.S., so Western players would be reluctant to indulge in the awesome mindless mechanical violence without knowing the full back story behind each robot suit. If they bring it to the U.S., chances are they'd end up changing the game so it starred the Transformers or -- actually that sounds pretty cool.
... with fucking lightsabers.
For more video game insanity, check out 6 Real Video Games That Were Too Insane To Release and 5 Insane True Facts About StarCraft: The Professional Sport.