Final Stupid Guide for Arcade Tourists in Hong Kong
PenPen here for the final installment of the (M)SGUATHK series. If you haven’t read the first two parts, it’s okay, I forgive you – check out the first part here, and the second part here. We’re going to wrap things up over at this side with the final parts to the puzzle. Lightgun games, special cabinet games (card games/larger machines that take up space), and some misc games that I can’t really categorize. I’ll also list out a few arcades for starters. More details and a wall of text after le jump!
If you’re thinking lightgun games are pretty much the same they were a few years ago, I’d say you’re mostly correct – there’s not many new games coming out when it comes to arcade rail shooters.
In most arcades you can find Time Crisis 3 and/or 4, and both of them are really superb lightgun games. You however won’t find many House of the Dead 4s around, as they won’t get much space and is pretty much considered as a second tier shooting game (I only found it in 1 arcade). On a really interesting note that will be of no use to you, one of the biggest arcades once had House of the Dead 4 Special, which is like a 2-player ride rail shooter, where you sit in a roller-coaster cart thingy and get spun around to shoot zombies and such. If you want a bit more detail to the story, you can check out its wiki entry. But HoTD4S is not in HK anymore. For the ‘normal’ ones, these games usually cost around or under $5 HKD.
But I’m not going to just talk about these old ones. There’s a few that you may be interested in. There’s Raizing Storm, which came out in 2008 and has seen some play. Sorta like a variant on Time Crisis as you can pull out a shield (which doesn’t allow you to shoot at the same time), this game also features breakable stuff. You can take a look at the gameplay video if you haven’t seen the machine before.
The other one you wanna check out is the Rambo arcade shooter that Sega made. While anything with Rambo with it automatically becomes awesome, it is a pretty generic shooter itself. The good side is that there’s a lot of Rambo clips that comes along with the game in intermissions. Regardless, perhaps because of the nostalgia it does get played quite a lot for a gun game. But it does cost around $3-5 HKD/game depending on where you’re playing.
The last light gun game that I’ll talk about is House of the Dead Ex (link leads to YouTube), which is a nice little twist from your usual arcade rail shooter. Instead of fighting zombies as a human, you are actually controlling one (a novel idea) and as according to the story, is trying to escape from the zombie horde to find true love (or whatever). Naturally, escaping in here it comes in the form of multiple mini-games where you will need to use the gun, or the foot pedal, or even both. It’s a nice little change from the usual light gun stuff, and you should be able to find 1-2 of these in bigger arcades. It won’t cost you much, around $3-4 HKD per game.
There’s 1-2 more machines that I’ll go over quickly, 2Spicy is a versus shooter where you are controlling an assassin, and have a 1-on-1 fight against another assassin with guns. You also get to control thru the left/right pedal as well, if you want to move left/right (still fighting within a confined space though). You may also be able to find Ghost Squad as well, but only in a few arcades. Both games are quite likely to be out of the arcade scene, or in limited availability.
You’re probably thinking, PenPen, expensive games? Aren’t arcades usually cheap like $5 HKD/game at most? Yeah, it used to be. But until recently, those geniuses from Sega’s arcade division decided that there’s MORE to what arcade games can do to our wallet. And thus, we enter a new age of arcade gaming where you would probably burn 3 times more of your average arcade game. Aside from playing KOF, I actually dabbled in this expensive hobby (read: lost a fortune), so I do know a few about them.
Sega started this new genre using horse racing and soccer/football. The original horse racing series is not found anymore in Hong Kong, but instead the football game still gets some burn. You may have heard of it: World Club Championship Football 200x-200x season (or WCCF for short).
WCCF is a brilliant idea for football fanatics that are also gamers. In conjunction with the Italian trading card maker Panini, you are actually given a pack of player cards (actual football players from famous real-life teams) and an IC card (hard plastic save card thingy) where you can actually get to place on a playing field, make your own formation of 11 players + 5 substitutes, and actually move them around (albeit in a limited manner). And once your game is done, the game’s satellite machine will spit out a new player card, and there’s this very very slim chance of getting a super rare card which will sell significantly more than a regular card. Each player has their own position, their most effective spot on the field, a special ability (which IIRC you have no control of) and a relationship feature with other players in the team you fielded. And, you get to play online against other players who are playing as well.
So yes, this is not your average FIFA/Winning Eleven/Pro Evo footy action game, this is a little more in line with the Championship/Football Manager with actual 3D players. But instead of controlling the players themselves, you really don’t have a direct influence on whom you’re controlling. It’s just sorta like a real match where you’re a coach on the sidelines yelling at your team to focus left/right. It’s a lot of fun, it’s addicting and it’s a success in Sega’s foray into this new collectible card business.
Hong Kong has WCCF, but the problem is that the machines (and I mean satellite machines that link to one big screen) are likely not spitting out any cards after you finish a game (if it has no player cards, the top LED bar will be in red and the satellite’s screen will indicate that it has no cards). Additionally, arcades may not have the latest version (updates come in seasons) and not every big arcade carry this at all. So…I wouldn’t recommend that you dabble $15 HKD/game (not including the ‘starter pack’ with average players and an IC card, which costs around $30-40 HKD) just to find out that you won’t get any new players and nobody’s playing against you.
I’d much rather point you to the general direction of its more successful game of Sangokushi Taisen. The latest iteration is 3 (technically speaking, 3.1), and every major arcade in Hong Kong will have this. In short, it’s like an RTS game with collectible card game elements, you collect cards, make a deck that satisfies the cost requirements, and pull/push them around on a playing field on your satellite machine. It’s really a pretty deep game, and I implore that you head over to its wiki entry (which I happened to co-write many years ago) for more details. Part of the reason it’s popular is it’s based on China’s Three Kingdoms period and its deep gameplay, but it also got very beautiful artwork like the one on the right and this and this and cool stuff like this. And crazy manga artist works like this and this (you won’t get any extra from me for knowing what these are based on).
So yes, the game is pretty popular. It’ll cost $15 HKD/game though, and like WCCF, every time you complete a game, a card will spit out from the machine (unlike WCCF, this game has no card supplies issue). However you don’t get to play against worldwide opponents, even though you can play against Taiwan, Shanghai and Singapore players. I implore you to check out this vid below for a epic siege match (a pretty advanced match actually).
With that out of the way, we can get out of trading card land and talk about other games. As horse racing is a pretty big interest in Japan, it’s only natural that someone will make a horse racing game. And made a few they did! And since Hong Kong is also a horse racing paradise, you’ll find that Hong Kong also got some of them. Here’s a quickie list (since there’s a few and admittedly I didn’t play them):
– GI-Horsepark EX / EX STD: Features an actual mini racecourse with model horses in them. The seats surrounding them are satellites where you will register and train your horse, put them into races and bet on them (and other horses). Uses Konami’s e-Amusement Pass.
– iHorse Racing: Actually, made by a Hong Kong developer. Is comparatively popular because it’s in Chinese, and there’s a few classic Hong Kong horses featured in there.
– StarHorse: Sega’s foray into the arcade horse racing business, has luxurious seats and an adjustable LCD panel on each to simulate the feeling of being a horse owner. Sort of.
With horse racing out of the way, I’d like to cover two more games, both of them taking a page of the FPS/third person shooter genre.
The first is Namco-Bandai’s Gundam Senjo no Kizuna, feature up to 8 crazy dome-shaped thingies on a 4 vs 4 match (or 8 vs 8 from what I see at Japan vids). Basically, it’s like you’re a Gundam pilot and instead of a joystick and buttons, you sit in the huge dome-shaped machine, and face this really huge concave LCD screen showing you the battlefield, and you control the Gundam with two sticks and 3 pedals. Words don’t do this much justice, so here’s a video showing you how it plays:
As you can see, it’s a top notch experience. However, a game will cost you $35 HKD, not counting the IC card that you will need to pay beforehand. Additionally, you need to set up your pilot in another machine outside, where you can edit your pilot’s face, and most importantly, whose side are you on. Are you going to choose the Earth Federation or become a follower of Zeon? But once you chose sides, you cannot switch over, which is a bummer. On the plus side, after playing enough (ie. burning your wallet) you will be able to upgrade to better mobile suits. On a sad unrelated note, the machines are pre-assigned to one side already. So if you’re lining up and is a Zeon player, and the Zeon machines are full, you can’t go over to the Federation’s machines if they’re are empty. Aside from these poor design ideas at the end, and the unwieldy controls, it is a great arcade game to try. However, due to the size of these, and the cost involved, very few arcades have them.
The last game I’m talking about is Sega’s newcomer, Border Break. While everyone has their own interpretation of this game, mine is “Team Fortress with giant mecha robots on push control point maps in third person.” It’s a class-based third person shooter. You can choose from 4 different classes: Assault for running upfront into combat with blade and machine gun, Heavy for your rawket lawnchair and chaingun action, Snipe for…sniping and sentries, and Support for awesome shotgun and healing of various things and surveillance.
Playing on a predetermined map, you and 9 other random teammates of approximately the same ranking will fight another group of 10 other random people assigned to teams. Communication is done through preset voice commands like “attacking together” and “defend together” and so on. The goal is to deal as much damage (or take down) the final control point located in the other team’s base. You don’t need to capture the control points in between, but it gives you a spawn advantage, since you can respawn near the control points after your team captures them.
This game’s controls are more in line with PC – you get a joystick, but it can’t really move, the controls of your mecha is done through the thumbstick on top, plus a jump and dash button and a use/crouch button on the side. The other side is…a standard mouse. Yes! It’s like keyboard and mouse, but you get a joystick instead. But how communication is done? You can use the touch screen to do voice commands and talk, they are all preset however and is occasionally useful for attacking and defending points. The touch screen also allows the Heavy class to use its artillery, where you can poke at the screen’s map on where you’d like to carpet bomb with your artillery.
The game connects to Japan unlike the above online-supported games (which all have regional connectivity), but is lately experiencing disconnection issues, which hopefully will be fixed soon. On another note, this game doesn’t need multiple $5 coins. You can play with just 1 $5 coin. The catch is that instead of using that coin for one game, you are using it for a preset amount of counts – so in actuality, $5 would give you 260 counts, and you can play as long as you like until the 260 counts run out. A very good idea for arcade gamers and operators alike.
Here’s a video of how it’s played:
We are almost at the end. There’s also a few other games that I’ll point out as well.
– Many games in 1 cabinets: Essentially a ROM loader for older games. Large chain arcades may not own them, you can find them in smaller arcades. Usually features a list of games to choose from, and before you play, choose the game, and then after the game loads, enter the coins. If done in reverse, the coins you entered will not be accounted for (they specifically mentioned this in Chinese). If you want to exit a game that’s running and go back to the loader, press the upper leftmost button on P1 side, and the P1 start button at the same time. If you want to play Garou: MOTW, you’ll have to play it in arcades this way, and it’s most likely the prototype (ie. Tizoc/Griffon stage has funny backgrounds). Comes very cheap, $1-$2 HKD per game is the norm.
– Mini games touchscreen cabinets: Basically a cabinet (usually in pinkish color) that has a touchscreen feature. In actuality, most machines will be Dou Di Zhu machines, you can wiki it up here on how to play the card game. And it features local online.
– Virtua Striker & Winning Eleven Arcade Game Style: It’s basically Virtua Striker vs Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution Soccer, but for the latter, in arcades and you can plug in or rent a PS2 controller from the arcade to play instead of the arcade button layout. You can use Konami’s e-Amusement card for this game as well. Not very easily found, but it’s scattered across the city. As for Virtua Striker, the version varies but expect each major arcade to have one of these somehow.
– Mahjong games: We used to have more mahjong games featuring the Japanese ruleset, but seems like it’s slowly dying over here. Regardless, old school strip mahjong games are still around at around at most 2 cabinets per arcade. On the other hand, Konami’s Mahjong Fight Club series allows people to play online, but lately I don’t see much of those anymore around here (which leads to me not making a really special mention).
– Bishi Bashi Champ series: A minigame collection that allows for 3 players to compete against each other. There’s 3 buttons, red, blue and green, and has usually a very cartoonish presentation. Usually popular with girls, where they’ll yell and scream when they press their buttons furiously. Has been around for a looooooooooooong time, even the older ones have been here for almost 10 years+!
There may be more, but I think this would cover whatever that I didn’t cover in the earlier games. And don’t get all pissed off if I somehow missed out on your favorite game – I apologize in advance if I did miss out.
Where to Play
Well we now have a dandy list of games to check out, but where can you play them? Don’t worry, I’ll have a quick list of places to visit for your arcade gaming needs.
Causeway Bay Hong Kong Island
wtc: Namco Wonder Park Plus (6th floor, must reach by elevator in wtc shopping center)
Notable Games: Gundam Senjo no Kizuna, Sangokushi Taisen 3, Wangan Midnight 3 DX, Mario Kart Arcade GP, Outrun 2, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, Gundam vs Gundam Next, Taiko no Tatsujin 12 (Japan + Asia version), jubeat
Special notes: Unlike most arcades, this one needs you to exchange for Namco tokens, which aside from playing arcade games, allows you to play their UFO catchers or other money-stealing machines. The exchange rate is $1 HKD=1 token, but for certain larger amounts the arcade will give you more tokens in exchange (see the exchange counter). Also has sticker/card picture machines and Gundam model store. You cannot exchange Namco tokens back into HKD, so you better spend them all before you leave (and there’s always ways to do that). Go here if you are looking for decent SF3 competition. Pricing for some games is not reasonable (Taiko no Tatsujin is probably $5-6 HKD for 2 songs). If you’re under 16 years old, they WILL have a security standing outside the arcade area, and will check your ID. Great for Gundam and Namco fans, since this arcade is run by Namco-Bandai.
Times at Causeway Bay (Basement)
Notable Games: Wangan Midnight 3 DX, KOF 2002UM (Revenge), KOF 98UM, Winning Eleven Arcade Game Style, DJ Max Technika, basketball hoop shooting thingy
Special notes: Now partially invaded by medal machines, used to have KOF XII but last time I checked it’s gone already. Not good. Anyway, a pretty clean arcade which also features a makeshift toilet at the farthest end of the store. People smoke outside the arcades, but not in there.
Gamemax at Causeway Bay (Basement)
Notable Games: jubeat, DJ Max Technika, KOF 2002UM (Revenge), Street Fighter 4, Gundam vs Gundam Next, Sangokushi Taisen 3
Special Notes: I actually never went here before, but they changed hands recently, and is getting pretty good feedback from the local arcade fans due to the quick response to their inquiries and machine issues. Apparently has a toilet too (omg). Furthermore, the arcade is now strictly non-smoking area (before it changed hands, smoking is the norm).
Game Cyber at Causeway Bay (Basement)
Notable Games: Sangokushi Taisen 3, KOF 2002UM (Revenge), Street Fighter 4, shumps, many more…
Special Notes: Not recommended if you’re a non-smoker, or don’t want to come out smelling like you are a lifelong smoker. This arcade is filled with so many smokers it’s not even funny. On the other hand, this is the largest arcade in the Causeway Bay area with the most games, including older classic games. But the maintenance is crap, the air conditioning is super cold/non-existent, the gamers there may beat you up if you beat them in-game. Just…not recommended. Yeah.
GameZone-New Town Mall at Mong Kok (Basement)
Notable Games: Sangokushi Taisen 3, WCCF, Wangan Midnignt 3 DX, Initial D 5, Star Horse 2, Border Break, Gundam Senjo no Kizuna, Taiko no Tatsujin, KOF 2002 UM (Revenge), KOF XII, Street Fighter 4, Gundam vs Gundam Next and more…
Special Notes: THE arcade to go in Hong Kong, extremely crowded with people, high gamer quality and occasionally enforces the no-smoking policy. Great overall arcade, even though now halfway invaded by medal machines. Once featured loketests of KOF 2002UM and KOF Skystage, along with Sega’s Border Break. Prices are reasonable, and features very good KOF and SF4 players. Also has KOF XII, but nobody plays them (there’s two machines – one with a big screen next to the SF4 machines and one head-to-head). I’ll be there occasionally for some Border Break and KOF.
Gam Wo at Tsim Sha Tsui (The old-ish building right by Star Ferry, upstairs)
Notable Games: Sangokushi Taisen 3, Wangan Midnight 3 DX, Battle Gear 4 Tuned, Gundam vs Gundam Next, GuitarFreaks & Drummania v5
Special Notes: I can’t find the English name for this, sorry. Only a viable arcade if you’re doing tourism stuff and happen to be at Tsim Sha Tsui. Otherwise, rather average. Has some benami games and music games. Occasionally has stuff fixed.
Smart Game at Mong Kok (Upstairs)
Notable Games: House of the Dead EX, Sangokushi Taisen 3, Wangan Midnight 3 DX, Virtua Fighter 5, Gundam vs Gundam Next, GuitarFreaks & Drummania v5
Special Notes: It may/may not have KOF XII. I would still think that they would still have that sexy black high-quality cabinet, but is likely replaced with GvG now. The location may be slightly hard to find. There’s 2 floors, the first floor is gaming, second floor has Star Horse 2 and medal machines. No-smoking policy, which actually means people smoke at the stairs leading up to the arcade. On the other hand, you can stroll down to the nearby Ho King Commercial Center’s first floor (on the map, where Fa Yuen Street crosses Dundas Street) for game shops. Additionally, if you’re into remote control stuffs and scaled model cars, check out Kwong Wah Street (East of the arcade).
fun @ apm at Kwun Tong (11th floor)
Notable Games: House of the Dead EX, Rambo, Sangokushi Taisen 3, WCCF, Wangan Midnight 3 DX, Gundam vs Gundam, GuitarFreaks & Drummania v5, DJ Max Technika, KOF 2002 UM (Revenge), modded console version of Street Fighter 4
Special Notes: Now we’re going into obscure territory. This arcade is on top of a pretty large shopping mall, and can only be accessed thru a special elevator that only stops on the ground floor, the MTR floor, second floor, sixth floor and 11th floor (unless you want to go to the parking lot in the basement). Generally a pretty good arcade, but might be slowly decaying. Fighting game level is around average to below par. The modded console version of SF4 consists of unlockable characters and Chinese subtitles, and has a pretty nice cabinet, so it’s worth checking out. But nobody plays it, sadly.
Gam Wo at Tsuen Wan (4th floor)
Notable Games: Border Break, BlazBlue CT, Sangokushi Taisen 3, KOF 2002 (Revenge), KOF XII, jubeat, Taiko no Tatsujin 12, Thrill Drive 3
Special Notes: Yet another rather obscure one due to the location. However, some loketests were done here as well, plus it has some variety, which is great. There are some medal games, but not as many like the ones I listed above with them. Not an easy place to visit due to the location, where you can walk from the MTR station through a bunch of skyways which connects to and from different buildings. If you must visit (eg. you must play BlazBlue in Hong Kong), see if you can get directions from locals, or refer to this picture here (see red circle and directions).
Gamezone-Nan Fung Center at Tsuen Wan (3rd floor)
Notable Games: Border Break, WCCF, Initial D 5, Sangokushi Taisen 3, Wangan Midnignt 3 DX, Gundam Senjo no Kizuna, KOF 2002 UM (Revenge)
Special Notes: We’re still at Tsuen Wan, but it’s closer to the MTR station. Has a great variety of games, and is a no smoking area which is strictly enforced. I’d love to fill in more info, but I haven’t really been there. Noted to be slightly more expensive than average.
Is that all?
Are there other arcades to visit? Sure, there are. I’m just listing the ones that are the biggest out there. You may come across smaller arcades that I’ve missed. Most of the arcades I listed here are smoke-free, but probably half of the arcades in Hong Kong aren’t. Feel free to walk around the arcade for a quick peek of what it is before going ahead to play it out.
So…that is all I have to write about! Extremely long and winded, too verbose and I wish I could’ve finished this earlier. Anyway, that is all I have to give for now. Hopefully, I’ll write something better next time around. Until then, leave us a holler at the comments section or the forums. See ya!