As you surely know, the world has been in a pretty crazy state the last few years, and as a result traveling overseas or even out-of-state has been challenging, if not worrisome. A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to get out of Oregon for the first time in quite a long time and chose (of all places) Reno, Nevada. While “The Biggest Little City in the World” is known in part for its gambling opportunities, there are many other things for all ages to enjoy.
I wasn’t expecting to do anything in Reno that was at all related to Japanese culture, but when we stopped by the Meadowood Mall for an afternoon, we stumbled on quite an interesting place: the multi-entertainment facility known as “Round 1”.
At first, walking into this place looked like a typical arcade, with a mix of run-of-the-mill games you play for fun and those targeting younger kids where you can win tickets. But while going deeper into the building, we started noticing something interesting: there was a lot of Japanese stuff that you would never expect to find in U.S. entertainment facilities.
To begin with, there was a Purikura (photo) booth that was undoubtedly Japanese, and an entire section of crane games like those you can find in bigger cities in Japan. There were also a bunch of classic Japanese games (like Street Fighter) that had a posted notice that they were only available in Japanese language. Finally, there were a bunch of games from Japan that I had not ever seen before.
My favorite of this final category was hands-down a game called “Gitadora”, which was a duo of two rhythm games: one for drums and one for guitar. Being more of a drums person myself, I immediately tried out the former, which had a sturdy set of digital pads with double kicks and around ten total drums. The game itself took some time to get used to, especially the timing, but overall it was one of the most fun arcade games I’ve played in a long, long time. Just playing with the drums during the loading screens was enjoyable (though the drums only made sounds on some of those screens).
Having become somewhat disillusioned about arcades in the last decade or two (there is the underlying question of whether they are really even relevant in this day and age), seeing what Round 1 had to offer was a nice surprise that gave me a fresh outlook on arcades. The thing I didn’t quite understand at the time was why there were so many Japanese games that were normally not available in regular arcades.
A little bit of research showed that Round 1 is actually a company that is headquartered in Japan, which explains the major Japanese culture element. Furthermore, it turns there are a bunch of these facilities scattered around the U.S., including even a few in Oregon.
While console, computer, and mobile games are great, I think arcades have a unique opportunity to offer cutting-edge technology that has not made it yet to those platforms in an environment where people can play in person. By the way, Round 1 also has a bowling alley and a restaurant as part of the facility.
I hope to be able to check out the Round 1 sites in Oregon eventually, and due to the heavy Japanese culture in this area perhaps they have even more Japanese games.
To end this article, here are a few photos I took to give you an idea of what the place is like (mostly focusing on Japanese games or other entertainment):