Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Movies, games and videos

I took my first trip to the arcade on Saturday.

Most of you are probably thinking "Is this the same
Lewis? Has he really been in Japan for over two months and has yet to visit an arcade?". Well, yes, it took me a while, but I finally got around to sampling the Japanese arcade experience. And it was mental.

For a start it was called Joyland. Secondly, there were no in-bred children wearing Kappa jackets. And thirdly it had some of the most bizarre games I've ever seen. By far the best was Drummania, which is a giant pink cabinet with a set of touch sensitive drums - to get an impression of how popular it is, I should tell you that the one I played was the ELEVENTH version. The idea is that you can choose from a list of rather brilliant bubbly J-pop tunes and drum along to the on-screen instructions. It's brilliant fun, and the bonus is that you feel slightly less stupid than when playing those dancing games. I've attached a photo of a Japanese guy playing on it who was amazingly good. He was playing the game on extreme level, and he's obviously memorised every track. He even brought his own drum sticks. I wasn't sure whether to be impressed or to feel slightly embarrassed for him...

By far the strangest thing there was the eight player football game though. I couldn't quite work out how you were supposed to play it - as far as I could tell it was based on stat battles between cards that the players brought along themselves and put into the machine. A bit like a cross between Top Trumps and Match of the Day.

The best bit of the arcade was the Sega "Relax Mission", which was, quite simply, a massage chair. Just in case you need to unwind after a heavy bout of drumming.

And now, the weather... Is it me or has the world weather been going a bit mental lately? Japan has had NINE typhoons this year. That's the most typhoons to hit the country in one year since records began. The last one arrived this weekend, and was the strongest one since 1951, but luckily it veered east at the last minute and hit Tokyo. Well, lucky for me anyway, not particularly lucky for the people in Tokyo.

A rather random result of this is that Fukui has had the highest number of bear attacks ever. The numerous typhoons have knocked all the fruit and nuts off the trees, so the bears are coming down from the hills to look for food in towns. It's got to the point where the local government is issuing primary school children with bells for their walk to and from school, in order to scare away bears. They even cancelled the Katsuyama sports festival this weekend due to the risk of bear attacks. It all seems a little absurd to me - the black bears here only grow to about a metre long at most. Having said that, I wouldn't want to wake up in the night to find one rooting through my refrigerator.

And finally, I watched Love Actually with a load of Americans on Sunday, which was interesting. I had great fun trying to explain to them what Basildon was...


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