Tokyo is the land of crazy and Japan a land of thrills. On my seven day trip around the land of rising sun, I went to two theme parks and one special arcade. The name ‘arcade’ is an understatement and should be considered as a theme park in its own right – Sega Joyopolis.
The game console manufacturer and owner of Sonic the Hedgehog has created a theme park of the future in Odaiba, Tokyo. The park is housed indoors and comprises of three levels with the first level being the most intense.
Rollecoaster Shoot ‘Em Up
I began by riding on ‘Veil of Dark’, a rollercoaster-shooting arcade hybrid. Sitting in a rollercoaster car, an overhead harness was lowered and I was shown my joystick that would control a cross hair on the large screens in front of us. As four people ride together, each crosshair is colour specific. Our car moved forward, stopping in front of the first large screen. Zombies began emerging and using the joystick I began unleashing an army of bullets.
Zombies dead, the screen rose up revealing more rollercoaster track. Stopped again, another screen. This continued for about three more screens until the final boss was defeated. Suddenly, we were propelled forward at immense speed and we began twirling into a corkscrew above the people queuing for the ride. It was a climactic ending that sent head banging tremors to the brain. I was declared the winner out of the three of us in the car. Victorious I left excited that Sega had created such a unique concept.
Skateboarding in the Future
The next line I joined was for the prized attraction ‘Half pipe Tokyo’. Entering an arena that is a futuristic skate-park half pipe you stand on a ‘skateboard’ that is more reminiscent of a hovering snowboard. You stand on it as an overhead harness is lowered. With all eight riders locked in (each board holds two people facing opposite directions) the magic begins.
The centre of the board is attached to a large pendulum and soon your board starts moving up and down the half pipe. A countdown begins and then the arcade element of the attraction is revealed. Once your board reaches the exact centre of the stage you must push your feet on the pedal to which you stand on. It is a rhythm based game at heart. If there are two of you then the game is trickier as you must push the pedal simultaneously. To add to the excitement of rushing up and down a steep incline, is that the better you are the more your board will rotate upon reaching the apex of the half pipe. This makes the game fiendishly difficult as if you score a ‘perfect’ you will be disorientated by being spun 1080 degrees. However, if you completely miss the centre of the stage you will not spin at all. The pumping music, neon screens and rapid speed make this the single most enjoyable thing in the whole of Japan!
Robots in Disguise
The next game I decided to play was on the second floor ‘Transformers Human Alliance Special’. This is a fantastic game where there are four metallic spheres decorated in the colours of Bumblebee in a small enclosure. Each ball can hold two people. At first it is normal as there is a large screen inside the ball resembling an arcade screen. However, the staff then restrain you into the ball. Game set, you are suddenly aiding the transformers in a battle in the sky. Using the joystick you shoot anything evil. Without warning, your sphere begins rotating. You are being hit by the enemy and the ball rotates 360 degrees. It’s like being in a human hamster ball. Fighting villains whilst rotating wildly in all directions is astonishingly fun. My score was the highest of the day out of all the visitors, a feat that will be swiftly added to my C.V. The future of arcades has arrived.
Next, I will group two attractions together ‘Let’s go Jungle SP’ and ‘The House of the Dead 4 SP’. These operate the same but have different storylines. With these games you enter a cage and see a vehicle. You sit in the open topped vehicle with a lap restraint. Picking up the bright orange gun the screen loads and you will either be shooting out of control wildlife or zombies. However, after a time you hear noises coming from behind you. Suddenly, your vehicle swivels 90 degrees and now you have to fight creatures coming from behind. Your car swivels again and choices have to be made. You either hit the button to go right or the button to go left. This is where I died in the zombie game. However, in the jungle one I was doing quite well and avoiding the perilous cliff edge whilst being chased by a mutant arachnid. The screen showed me a map as I completed the first stage and I opted for my next level but was soon defeated. Sega has done an outstanding job that is far more progressive than a standard arcade shooting game.
Winter Sports in Space
It was time to take to the cold slopes and ride a bobsled in ‘Storm G’. Sega have installed four futuristic bobsleighs each sitting two people. The now accustomed shoulder restraint was lowered. Four teams would race down a science fiction bobsleigh course. Unlike normal bobsleigh courses this one allowed for big jumps and tunnels that would allow you to cling to the ceiling. Yup – the bobsled could rotate 360 degrees with you inside. Think along the lines of F-Zero. The bobsled was very hard to control and I lost terribly but being able to rotate yourself whilst playing was enjoyable.
On the third floor were three very similar attractions with interweaving storylines ‘Wild Wing’, ‘Wild Jungle Brothers’ and ‘Wild River the Treasure Hunt’. In each, you board a large vehicle, either a plane, truck or raft that can fit around a dozen people. They are all simulator rides that have effects such as water splashing. However, all three were underwhelming compared to what Universal Studios and Disney have been doing for years. The most fun part of these simulators is watching the reactions of the Japanese guests as they ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at every tiny movement.
The last big attractions was ‘Initial D’. Become a real life rally driver and enter an actual car whilst completing a time trial. Sitting in the driver’s seat you feel immersed as you are sitting in a car with gear box, pedals and steering wheel. The cool part of this game is that the car is responding in real time to the actions on the screen. If you drift left be prepared for your back tyres to swing out behind you causing the car to turn sideways.
Sega Joyopolis has other attractions but those are not as exciting or radical. The theme park also has arcade machines to win toys but they seemed suspiciously harder than in the normal arcades in Japan.
Sega Joyopolis is a superb place to visit and spend at least four hours. The staff are a little slow but the attractions themselves are worth the wait. Odaiba, the location of Sega Joyopolis is also very beautiful and it is from here you can see a replica of the Statute of Liberty and a life-size Gundam statute.
Take your passport with you as those who produce one get a discount
Images without captions belong to myself. Follow me on Instagram: Arik_Dane