Arcades, or Game Centers (ゲームセンター) in Japan are a very different experience from their American counterparts. Whereas American arcades tend to be associated with ticket games like Skee-Ball and decrepit cabinet games from the eighties, the Japanese arcade industry has progressed in a wildly different direction, and new arcade-exclusive games are developed in Japan to this day. Though sparse and difficult to locate online when compared to the more populated regions of Japan, there are a number of arcades in Akita Prefecture, particularly within Akita City itself. Past few years has seen a decline in arcades/game centers, so you may have better luck scouring your local Aeon or Itoku malls.
Types of machines
These days, game centers or arcades have a wide variety of games to play. It can be a little overwhelming. If you walk in a Round 1 or a Sega arcade, it's good to know how arcades are divided or what kind of games you might be looking at.
If you're an avid gamer and find yourself coming back to one often, consider purchasing a "Amusement IC" card. These will save your progress, scores, or in-game purchases every time you play, so you don't have to keep track yourself. Four companies make four different cards (Konami = e-amusement pass, Bandai-Namco = Banapassport, Sega = Aime, Taito = NESiCA), and newer games will be interchangeable with each other, while a few others will only accept one kind of card.
- Traditional video
Sometimes these are called "candy cabinets," they usually have the video games you might associate with arcades. These can include your fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken, puzzle games like Puzzle Fighter or Puzzle Bobble, Shoot-em-ups (Shmups) like Raiden, or even Gundam Extreme VS. Most cabinets in Japan are set up with one person per cabinet and for multi-player play, there will be another cabinet connected adjacent or behind the other cabinet in a face-to-face style. Most of these cabinets will also include multiple games in order to save the arcades space. NESiCA x Live cabinets can contain over different 30 games in one cabinet!
- Dedicated (specialty) cabinets
These are unique games that rely on special cabinets, some of which require extra technology that traditional cabinets do not have. These are far more popular for video games. You may also find some dedicated cabinets that don't fit a particular type, such as Densha De Go!! (train conductor simulator)
- Flight/pilot games
Some can range to unique such as the famous "Gundam battle pods," which is an egg-shaped enclosed game with a panoramic screen, to games with a moving seat such as Starwing Paradox or After Burner Climax.
- Racing games
Most racing games have not lasted as long as Initial D arcade or Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune. Occasionally a new one will pop up such as Sega World Drivers Championship.
- Light gun/rail shooting
Another genre that has lost a lot of popularity, but some still exist. You might still find something like Gunslinger Stratos or GunBulletX (Point Blank in the west), even the occasional Ghost Squad machine. Some can be in an enclosed cabinet such as House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn.
- Card games
These cabinet range in size and play style. Some where you use the cards to control your player such as Footista and Sangokushi Taisen are becoming less popular. Other games will have cards containing information of characters you want to play with and you play the game using a joystick or buttons such as Fate/Grand Order Arcade or KanColle arcade.
- Music/rhythm games
While the landscape has changed since the heyday of Dance Dance Revolution in 1998/1999, rhythm games still remain very popular to this day. Many of the games employ different gimmicks to play and newer games cater largely toward the casual and mobile gamers. You might still find a DDR machine or a Beatmania IIDX cabinet, but you'll also find all sorts of players enjoying Taiko No Tatsujin or Maimai DX.
- Children's games
These are usually in smaller cabinets usually with stools in front of them. Many of them will be based on popular franchises for kids such as Pokemon, Dragonball Super, Kemono Friends, Dragon Quest, or PreCure. They can range from being a card game to a battle or a rock-paper-scissors fighting game or even a dress-up rhythm game. These are popular with some adults too!
- Pachi-slot games
While they seem like pachinko machines, they're not run the same way as you'd find in a pachinko parlor, though their operation is similar. You can find even children playing these as it's more for fun rather than trying to gamble to win something.
- Coin pushers
Similar to what is in America, these tend to be more elaborate. Again, it's more about how long you can play rather than trying to win something.
- UFO catchers/claw/prize games
No doubt the biggest money sink (and money makers) for arcades. You could spend an easy 2000 yen in a span of 3 minutes trying to win one prize and still not get anything. Just remember that different arcades set the claws at different strengths at different times, and you need to learn how to play it to win (hint: it's not always about simply picking it up with the claw/arms).
Arcades in Akita City
Akita City is not only the largest city in the prefecture; it is also home to the greatest selection of arcades!
- Round 1 Stadium Akita (ラウンドワンスタジアム秋田店) Open from 10 AM to 11:50 PM on weekdays, and 9 AM to 11:50 PM on weekends. ☎ 018-896-6711 map
- A favorite of many Akita JETs, Round One is exceptional for the breadth of options it offers. The first two floors are fairly typical, albeit large--the first floor consists of a massive selection of UFO catchers, the obligatory medal games, and a section off to the side devoted mostly to light gun shooters, while the second floor contains mostly of rhythm games and pachinko. The remaining floors, however, offer bowling, karaoke, a roller rink, and too many other amusements to properly list. The first two floors operate under a typical arcade pay-to-play style, while the upper floors require one to pay for a set number of hours, during which one can enjoy any of those floors' attractions for free. It is worth noting that there are also traditional arcade games on the paid floors, including a very impressive collection of light gun shooters, all of which are set to free play mode.
- Round 1's UFO catchers, another major appeal of the establishment, are very distinct, and require a notably different set of tactics in comparison to the setups found in most arcades. Though Round One first timers should approach with caution, once one understands their quirks they trend towards the winnable end of the spectrum, and the staff at this branch is generally quite helpful. Of equal importance is the fact that Round One has one of the most varied selections of UFO catcher prizes in the vicinity, and is well worth a visit if you're sick of 75% of the machines in any given arcade being dominated by the same anime or video game merch.
- The parking garage is free, and finding a parking space tends to be easy even during the busiest of times.
- In 2021, all Round 1 locations in Japan have dedicated a very large section of their store to UFO Catchers, now boasting over 200 machines per location. Akita's Round 1 has their first floor now entirely packed with almost nothing but UFO Catchers.
- Sega World Akita (セガワールド秋田) Open from 10 AM to midnight. ☎ 018-864-8421 map
- Located exactly one block west of Round 1, the Sega World is perhaps the most traditional arcade experience to be found in Akita City. Expect a first floor full of UFO catchers and medal games, a decent selection of rhythm games, and a second floor devoted to the typical eclectic mishmash of card, puzzle and fighting games. The UFO catchers in Sega arcades tend to be quite difficult, but ultimately winnable, and the staff are usually quite friendly. This particular Sega World is also notable for being remarkably smokey, particularly in the vicinity of the medal games, and those less tolerant to the smell of tobacco may find the atmosphere uncomfortable as a result.
- Soyu Game Field Goshono (ソユー ゲームフィールド 御所野店) Open from 9 AM to 10:30 PM. ☎ 018-889-6549 map
- Located on the 2nd floor of Aeon Goshono Mall, this place is pretty big. It has dedicated areas for children, UFO catchers, pachinko, slot, and medal games, and video games, though their selection is largely specialty arcades such as Dissidia Final Fantasy Arcade, House of the Dead, Fate/Grand Order Arcade, and music games rather than standard cabinet games such as Tekken or Street Fighter. Even when the mall is closed, it's still accessible via the Playland entrance. It has a variety of the newest games and they run specials on certain days, for example on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for 500 yen you can play all the music games you want from 5PM until closing (ask about their SGF Music Heaven special).
- As of 2021, the entire video gaming section has been reorganized. A large section has been taken over by a themed pop-up cafe, while a many video games were removed. Their 500 yen Music Heaven special doesn't seem to be running anymore.
- Rock 'n Bowl (ロックンボウル) Open from 9 AM to 5 AM. ☎ 018-831-6900 map
- If Round 1 is the bowling and entertainment center of Akita, Rock 'n Bowl is the miniature fun sized version. They offer karaoke, bowling, and arcades but in a much smaller scale. They do keep their facilities relatively updated though with a fair variety. You'll find many hardcore players here late at night, on the second floor as well which hosts more music games and other random video games.
- Brooklyn Strike Game Center (ブルックリンストライクゲームC) Open from 6 PM to 5 AM. ☎ 018-823-5654 map
- Another small bowling alley owned by the same company that owns Rock 'n Bowl, but this one has a dedicated game room, as notated by the sign "GAME" above it's door. The building looks like it's seen better days but it is much nicer inside (though it's lit up nicely at night). They even do a kind of cosmic bowling! The arcade area is separate on the first floor, even though it looks dark, it's usually still open. It does smell like smoke and it's relatively minimal with most of the arcades being music games (although they're at least updated). Probably only ideal if you're in the Kawabata area and just passing by. Parking is at a premium unfortunately as it's right in the middle of the Kawabata area.
- Bandai-Namco Akita OPA Amuse Park (秋田OPA アミューズパーク) Open from 10 AM to 8 PM. ☎ 018-838-1703 map
- OPA is the former site of Forus. It's located just outside of Akita station west exit, next to the Hotel Metropolitan Akita. You can enter through the glass doors next to Starbucks into the mall. Take the escalators in front of the entrance downstairs and you'll be right there. It's a small row of UFO catchers and arcades, though they mostly have Bandai-Namco and Sega arcade games (along with a Korean dance game, Pump It Up, rare to find in Japan).
- As of 2021, they have reorganized the amusement area, there are far less video games and there is a dedicated purikura section, including areas to make sure you look good before you go in.
- Penny Pot Open from 9:30 AM to 8 PM. ☎ 018-832-1417 map
- Penny Pot is located on the 4th floor of the Fonte shopping center building. It feels more of an old afterthought, not particularly well maintained with a lot of UFO Catchers and prize machines. However they have been slowly working some newer games into the location. More of a pit stop than a place to spend a lot of time with a bunch of friends.
- R-BOX Alve (Ｒ−ＢＯＸアルヴェ店) Open from 10 AM to 10 PM from the start of November to the end of February, and 10 AM to 11 PM from the start of March to the end of October. ☎ 018-831-1600 map
- Located on the first floor of the Alve shopping center, just outside the east entrance of Akita Station. The game selection is sparse, consisting primarily of a corner devoted to rhythm games, but said rhythm games are much more varied and up to date than their unimpressive quantity would suggest. The arcade is mostly devoted to UFO catchers, which occasionally contain surprisingly appealing and winnable prizes, as well as a sizable purikura section.
- Mansaido (万ＳＡＩ堂秋田店) Open always. ☎ 018-880-2652 map
- Though not an arcade in the traditional sense, Mansaido earns a place on this list by way of its collection of UFO catchers, which rivals many of the actual arcades in the prefecture in terms of size. They sometimes stock interesting and uncommon prizes, though many of the catchers themselves fall into the borderline unwinnable category. More worth visiting for the sake of the remarkable selection of retro and modern games than for the arcade component itself.
- Don Quijote Akita(ドン・キホーテ 秋田店) Open 9 AM to 2 AM. ☎ 0188-64-3810 map
- A generally unremarkable selection of UFO catchers, child-oriented games and a single Taiko no Tatsujin machine, lodged into a corner of the first floor of the Akita City Don Quijote. Hardly worth the trip on its own merits, but if already in Don Quijote for other purposes, it could be worth a glance.
Arcades in Daisen
- Plaza Capcom Omagari (プラサカプコン 大曲店) Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0187-86-3444 map
- This is located on the 2nd floor of the Omagari AEON mall, next to the Cinema. Despite being a Capcom game center, it doesn't have many Capcom games as one might expect. While it's a large game center, it's largely filled with UFO and prize games as well as medal games with a fair amount of video games. You can find some older selections or games you might not find at other game centers, such as puzzle games, an older Mario Kart 2, even a House of the Dead 4 machine.
Arcades in Kitaakita
- Game Field Takanosu (Itoku) (ゲームフィールド鷹巣店) Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. (It closes one hour before the grocery closes.) ☎ 0186-69-7799 map
- While not as large as Odate's Marchen Land in their Itoku, Takanosu has a few machines that might help pass the time. They have a new selection of UFO catchers, cranes, all with updated prizes, and a few of the newer music and specialty video games along with some new games for the kids.
- Tom Sawyer & Friends (Aeon Town) (トム・ソーヤのなかまたち たかのす店) Open from 9 AM to 8 PM. (It closes one hour before the grocery closes.) ☎ 0186-62-5070 map
- Located right between the food court and the bathrooms, it's got a lot of the children's games up front but when you move towards the back, you'll find some racing games like Wangan Midnight, and then you'll see the music games and their wide selection of medal/prize games. Towards the bathrooms, you'll find lots of UFO catchers, a couple purikura machines and more machines for the kids. Their secondary game center area closed in 2020 and the second-hand store Omoshiro Ichiba has taken it's place.
- In June 2022, Rith's Child changed management. It is currently called Tom Sawyer & Friends. A few new games were added along with some rather older looking machines, possibly for nostalgia's sake. Most of the existing machines did not change, however everything feels a little more crammed together.
Arcades in Odate
Odate may be a smaller town, but it still has some arcades!
- Namco Arcade - Aeon Town Odate (namcoイオンタウン大館西店) Open from 10 AM to midnight. ☎ 0186-42-4997 map
- Namco has a decent selection of large plush and snack crane games, Purikura machines, music games (including Taiko no Tatsujin with two possible songs), and some panchinko style games. This is the place where you will often find the young adults (18-26) in the area. Also noteworthy are the Gundam pod games in the back corner where you actually enter a capsule to play. It will occasionally smell like smoke, especially late in the evening. The workers inside are very kind and will help with crane games if they see you struggling.
- Molly Fantasy - Aeon Super Center Odate (イオンスーパーセンター大館店) Open from 8 AM to 9 PM. (It closes one hour before the main store.) ☎ 0186-44-6800 map
- Aeon's main arcade is at the far west end of the store, near the restaurants. You can find many crane games for small and large toys, a wide selection of children's arcade games, some small children's rides (like the quarter plane machines in the US), a few Purikura boxes, some pachinko-style games, and a Taiko no Tatsujin machine with three possible songs. The large crane games tend to be more expensive at ￥200 per game. There tends to be only one worker, so finding someone to get you a bag for your winnings or help move crane game prizes isn't easy. Families with young children are often in this arcade, especially during weekend afternoons.
Arcades in Noshiro
Arcade options in Noshiro city are limited, but generally exceed expectations, given that there are no dedicated arcades in the city whatsoever.
- Soyu Game Field Noshiro (プレイランドソピアいとくアクロス能代店) Open from 10 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0185-74-9195 map
- Located both at the end of the food court and along side the main corridor of the mall, this shop has a collaboration with the Akita Northern Happinets basketball team. You can play some basketball games and see cardboard cut-outs of the members and Happinets goods if you're a fan. There's also a couple large ballpits and play areas for children as well as a large selection of UFO catchers and a small selection of video games to play as well.
- Molly Fantasy Noshiro (イオン能代店) Open from 8 AM to 10 PM. ☎ 0185-55-2355 map
- Despite being fairly desolate and practically abandoned on weekdays, the arcade in the Noshiro Aeon Center is surprisingly serviceable. Occupying the bulk of the third floor of the building, the arcade is home to a wide range of UFO catchers, a decent purikura corner, a large number of gatcha machines and the usual selection of pachinko and coin games. As far as actual games go, there's not much to speak of, with only the obligatory Taiko no Tatsujin, a transformers light gun game, and a single, seemingly misplaced Jubeat machine.
- Soyu Playland Sofia Itoku Acros (プレイランドソピアいとくアクロス能代店) Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0185-54-7788 map
- Tucked away in the far back corner of the Itoku, it has a bit of a limited selection of games and UFO/crane games to choose from. They do have a quite handful of newer games, not a bad way of killing a few minutes while shopping at the rest of the shopping center.
Arcades in Gojome
- ＡＮ・ＫＩＮ・ＴＡＮ Open from 9 AM to 10 PM. ☎ 0188-79-8260 map
- Located in the back corner of the AEON Super Center. I'd keep my expectations low. The UFO machines are not easy to win, a few play pens, they have several old and out of date games (a few new ones too), and it's not particularly well kept. Plenty of gatchapon and crane games though if that's your thing. Feels more catered towards the undiscernible toddler.
Arcades in Yurihonjo
Very few options despite being a rather large city.
- Rith's Child Honjo (リスチャイルド本荘店) Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0184-28-0010 map
- You can find a fair amount of games and prize machines in the back left area of this very large Aeon. They do seem to cycle through some older games and swap out for newer ones from time to time.
Arcades in Yokote
- G3 Poros (G3ポロス横手南店) Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0182-35-2340 map
- Located in Yokote Minami, this big Aeon arcade has quite a few things for folks of all ages. Good variety of arcade games as well.
- Game Field Jumonji (ゲームフィールド十文字) Open from 9 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0182-47-7550 map
- Located inside Supermall Lucky, this narrow game center area feels a bit more like a hallway. It has a long row of claw/UFO catchers and a variety of other arcade games.
Arcades in Yuzawa
- Rith's Child Yuzawa (リスチャイルド湯沢店) Open from 10 AM to 9 PM. ☎ 0183-72-2811 map
- Found inside the AEON Super Center in Yuzawa. Pretty much what's expected of most game centers with a variety of UFO catchers, arcades, purikura, pachislot games and so forth. Not a bad place to spend a few hours with some friends.
|Entertainment in Akita|
|Sports||Running • Bicycling • Soccer • Basketball • Cricket • Ground Golf|
|Martial Arts||Kendo • Kyudo • Judo • Naginatado • Karatedo • Sado|
|Outdoors||Hiking/Climbing • Camping • Rafting • Skiing and snowboarding • Hanami • Shrines and Temples • Waterfalls|
|Leisure||Onsen • Movies • Museums and zoos • Arcades • Ramen shops • Akita beer • Sake • Doburoku • Cigar stores • Festivals • Taiko • Music festivals • Exploring Akita|