Arcades in America suck. We’re so incredibly lucky to live near some decent ones, but overall I now know why people say they’re dead in America. I visited about 10 different arcades in China, and nearly every one of them was better than any arcade I have been to in the US (with exceptions being GGA for old school and GameWorks Schaumburg for rhythm).
In Harbin, China alone, there are 86 different arcades, each of which has a whole row of fighting games, a section for music games, a bunch of connected racers, and a ton of other awesome games. Best of all, there are ALWAYS people there playing stuff, so it’s really easy to walk up and get a match of Tekken 6 or KOF 97/98, or even SF4 (Vanilla, primarily). Also, some of the arcades gave two tokens for 1RMB (6RMB is a about $1.00). So, that’s 12 tokens for a dollar, and most of the games were only 2-3 tokens.
What’s really insane is that most of the arcades we went to were a bit run down but were still more up-to-date than ones here. I got to play against some really good players in KOF who beat me terribly, but I was able to hold my own in Tekken, and I was (sadly) the best at SF4 at most of the arcades I went to.
I also got to play a bunch of DJ Max Technika, JuBeat, Pump it Up, Taiko, and a Chinese music game called Muzibox that’s like Keyboardmania mixed with JuBeat. Somehow, I did not see a single DDR machine in any of the places we went, but there’s a really popular dancing game there that’s like a combination of Pump with Kinect-style motion controls.