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Classic Games (Games) Japan

Grandmother Buys Old Building In Japan And Finds 55 Classic Arcade Cabinets 133

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the treasure-trove dept.
An anonymous reader writes A grandmother agreed to purchase an old building in Chiba, which is just outside of Tokyo. When her family arrived to check out the contents of the building it was discovered that the first two floors used to be a game center in the 1980s. Whoever ran it left all the cabinets behind when it closed, and it is full of classic and now highly desirable games. In total there are 55 arcade cabinets, most of which are the upright Aero Cities cabinets, but it's the game boards that they contain that's the most exciting discovery. Boards include Donkey Kong, Street Fighter Alpha 2 (working despite the CPS2 lockout chip's tendency to kill old boards), and Metal Slug X.
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Grandmother Buys Old Building In Japan And Finds 55 Classic Arcade Cabinets

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  • Cool time capsule. Stuff belongs in a museum. Great document of Japanese culture.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    did it say "Flynn's" on the outside?

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @04:25AM (#47358309) Homepage Journal

    due to metal slug x being in there..

    so a neat find, but it's not an '80s arcade been in the dust for 25 years.

    • by scsirob (246572)

      Agree. There are some pictures of PCB's that have chips with '90s date codes stamped on them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the whole story is over romanticized and not even technically true, there are posts about it on some of the arcade collector forums with more information
      www.jammaplus.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=63536

      I find it more fascinating when pieces of rare Japanese culture appear outside of Japan
      mamedev.emulab.it/haze/2014/06/07/whac-a-bison-vega/

      there was a bubble bobble 2 prototype arcade machine from nearby there dusted off only a blip of time ago too

  • Why would a building sit unused for 30 years? (And not get a leaky roof or clogged gutters that ruin the insides...)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because it's not. Look at occupancy rates. Also Japanese are super tidy and maintain things despite them not being used. See their behavior at a recent world cup match

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Also Japanese are super tidy and maintain things despite them not being used.

        Actually, this is incorrect. They may be a generally clean and tidy people, but they typically *don't* maintain buildings - they re-build many (if not all) of their temples every few years rather than perform maintenance. Couples almost never buy used homes - that's why there's so much odd arcitecture in that country; you don't have to worry about resale value because everyone's just going to demolish the building anyways.

        There was a neat bit about it on an NPR economics podcast a few months ago, if you're

      • by xevioso (598654)

        Wow. A world cup insult targeting Japan for some reason. I never thought I'd see the day. How random.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @04:54AM (#47358387)

      It wasn't; although there are '80s cabinets in there, the hardware in a lot of the pictures is late '90s or early 2000s vintage, and one of the articles suggests it has been closed for about ten years. Given that there's been a recession on that entire time, it might be that the value of the space didn't justify the cost of clearing out all those machines.

      • by swb (14022)

        One of the pictures seemed to show a poster with odds for some kind of gambling game. Maybe some kind of issue with licensing or maybe even some kind of organized crime problem?

        • Nah, that's fairly normal for Japan. They were probably running Pachislo machines alongside some Pachinko machines.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachislo [wikipedia.org]

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Gambling is illegal in Japan but also extremely popular and a mainstream pass-time for many people. They get around the law in various ways. For example many machines let you win non-monetary prizes (which are legal) that a little shop around the corner from the pachinko parlour conveniently pawns for a fixed amount and sells back to the pachinko operators again.

          • Or little slips of gold or silver, encased in plastic so they're legally classified as a "novelty item" or "jewelry", but the grade & weight are stamped on them, so you know you're holding, for example, 5 grams of 24K gold, and you know the exact value of it (pending knowledge of current precious metals, of course, but what's stopping you from downloading the Kitco app?). But hey, it's not actual (paper/coin) money, so there's no legal issue ;)
    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:14AM (#47358593) Homepage Journal
      For a lot of reasons really. First of all, the article doesn't say where in Chiba prefecture this find was made, while there is a small part of Chiba prefecture that is close to Tokyo(including the part that is home to Tokyo Disney), the prefecture itself is quite large and includes a large peninsula that is quite a long distance from Tokyo.

      Secondly, even in Tokyo proper if you travel to any point in the city that is more than a 10-15 minute walk from a station(and there are plenty of them) you will find plenty of run-down and abandoned buildings. Property in Tokyo seems to follow an inverse square law, the value is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the closest station.
      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Secondly, even in Tokyo proper if you travel to any point in the city that is more than a 10-15 minute walk from a station(and there are plenty of them) you will find plenty of run-down and abandoned buildings. Property in Tokyo seems to follow an inverse square law, the value is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the closest station.

        Which begs the question- would it be worth someone's time to buy some of these unwanted out-of-the-way buildings and then fund (possibly fully) the construction of a line and station covering that area?

        That quite obviously wouldn't be cheap- to put it mildly- but given the ludicrous value of some buildings and land in Tokyo, the returns could be huge.

        • by Avidiax (827422)

          Better to buy your buddy in the urban planning department a few Rolex's and lavish vacations to know where the next station will be just a few days before the other property developers.

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          would it be worth someone's time to buy some of these unwanted out-of-the-way buildings and then fund (possibly fully) the construction of a line and station covering that area?

          I have no idea if this is true for commercial buildings too, but there was a freakonomics podcast episode (2/26/2014 "Why are Japanese homes disposable?") that described that homes aren't built to be long lasting in Japan. Would definitely be worth researching before trying to do this.

          • Entirely true, but that's speaking to home values as opposed to land values. The homes depreciate to nothing very quickly; the land holds its value.
            • by mattack2 (1165421)

              No, it is not about the home VALUES, but literally the building quality and how long they should last.

              I mean, I know a poorer constructed building have a lower value, but that's a consequence, not the subject.

              Again, I have no idea if this shoddy workmanship applies to commercial buildings.

    • by morgauxo (974071)

      It didn't. One of those games says '97 on it. So it was AT LEAST open until then. Ok, that's still potentially a long time. But it's not 30 years.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      here in the USA I can point you at several buildings that have been "for rent" for well over 30 years and have never EVER been occupied. They were built and then sat there.

      All over the USA there is crap like that.

  • by kevingolding2001 (590321) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @04:46AM (#47358369)

    Is it the boards that are really so interesting, or the ROM chips thereon?

    Many years ago I remember playing some of my favourite childhood arcade games on my PC with MAME, and the hardest bit was getting hold of the ROM chip images.

    Even way back then most the games mentioned in the article seemed to be available, so I wonder if this anything more than sentimental value.

    • Re:Boards or ROM's (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @04:57AM (#47358391)

      Even with ROM images, some of the older, weirder arcade hardware is very hard to accurately emulate, so having whole boards is very precious.

      • Re:Boards or ROM's (Score:5, Informative)

        by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:34AM (#47360019) Journal
        For those of you who aren't aware, this is true. Older games, especially from the 80's, used graphics systems that used very little RAM, instead the graphics all being stored in EPROMs. The background images were one layer, with hardware that usually supported scrolling, and the foreground (or 'motion graphics') images in another set of EPROMs, with specific hardware to place said objects at specific locations on the screen, and yet another layer of graphics just for text images like player scores. Completely different from the bitmap graphics that everything uses now. The reason was the price of RAM. The exception to the rule was Williams games like Defender, Stargate, Joust, Robotron 2084, Bubbles, and other similar era titles, that used 3 banks of 4116's for a total of 48kB of bitmap graphics memory, with DMA used to move graphics data from EPROMs to the screen buffer. Since there was no 'standard' for any of this hardware you'd have to write an emulator for each and every different game. Then there's sound. Pacman/Ms. Pacman used a very simple discrete sound generator using a couple bipolar ROMs; you'd have to code specifically for that, or cheat and use PCM samples. Galaxian actually had a hardware PRNG connected to a simple resistor-ladder DAC and some low-pass filtering to generate white noise for things like explosion noises. Really, I learned a hell of a lot about electronics back in the day from having to learn how these boards all worked, so I could repair them effectively (not like there was tech support for repairing any of this stuff or troubleshooting manuals!)
  • Murakami should be proud of himself ...
  • There isn't really a story here. There may be a few classics here, but this is no golden age arcade, especially considering the stock of late era look-alike candy cabs. If this arcade had been mothballed and locked-up in, say, 1983 or 84, that would be cool. Otherwise, there isn't anything very special here.

    • by _merlin (160982)

      There are a bunch of DVD-based adult mahjong games there. Dumps of these are quite rare.

  • Notice that this isn't some mysterious hidden warehouse of an arcade cabinet collector. She simply bought some kind of business or retail space building which had an arcade in it.
  • Ah, Man (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @07:45AM (#47359009) Homepage Journal
    I haven't seen one of those old arcades in ages. You could walk into any mall in the 80's and hear the centipede game from halfway across the mall. The one I spent a lot of time in had a very distinctive smell of electronics and carpet cleaner. I could play Spy Hunter as long as I wanted to on one quarter, and my sister could do the same thing with Galaga. I remember being horrified the first time I wandered into a mall in Florida and realized they didn't have an arcade. That situation became more and more common as time went on. I think the demise of the American mall is in some way linked with the demise of the American video game arcade.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I think the demise of the American mall is in some way linked with the demise of the American video game arcade.

      Common root cause, advances in computing.

    • by Pro923 (1447307)
      yea... i remember how awesome it was to get 5 bucks out of my mother and then literally run to the "dream machine" arcade. There was also a big arcade in it's own building the next town over that we used to go to once we got car licenses. We'd play robotron for hours, as well as some of the other classics. I think the downfall of the arcade was - well I remember when they started replacing "skill games" with the "hack and slash" genre of games. "hack and slash" being - games where you'd fight or someth
      • by Megane (129182)
        ...and now the kiddies play 99-cent (or free) app games all day on mommy's cell phone that are visually superior to anything of that era.
      • by cellocgw (617879)

        Robotron? Classic?
        When *I* was in high school (and college), 95% of any arcade was pins. Bally, Williams, Gottlieb, Chicago Coin; some wedgeheads thrown in. That was the good old days.

        Now get offa my lawn.

    • I think it's more that consoles caught up with the arcades. The last arcade I went to was maybe five years ago, while on vacation in Virginia. Most of the games there were console ports - they had a Soul Calibur 2 machine at a time when Soul Calibur 3 was already out on consoles, the ever-present DDR machines (also ported to PSX/PS2), a couple of Street Fighter machines (available at the time on XBLA and PSN in HD remake form) and that was about it.

      Meanwhile, most of the old arcade games (CPS/NeoGeo) were p

      • by netsavior (627338)

        I think the only games I'd actually want that aren't ported are Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and MvC 3, both of which are highly unlikely to be ported again since Disney bought Marvel.

        MvC2 is on xbox live arcade and playstation store, I have it on dreamcast (as well as a proper port of Xmen vs Street fighter the reason I bought dreamcast), MvC3 has two different Editions on PS3 and XBox360

        • Ported to PC, I meant.

          • by netsavior (627338)
            oh gotcha, yeah MAME will do MvC2 if you spend a weekend matching versions and fiddling with configs, depending on your hardware, but good luck with MvC3. I vastly prefer Steam ports to MAME, since they are so much more polished, and hassle free, but yeah... they don't want your money, apparently.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I haven't seen one of those old arcades in ages. You could walk into any mall in the 80's and hear the centipede game from halfway across the mall. The one I spent a lot of time in had a very distinctive smell of electronics and carpet cleaner. I could play Spy Hunter as long as I wanted to on one quarter, and my sister could do the same thing with Galaga. I remember being horrified the first time I wandered into a mall in Florida and realized they didn't have an arcade. That situation became more and more

    • by Megane (129182)

      There were three arcades in the mall near where I lived in the '80s, a proper arcade, a bunch of cabs next door at the movie theater, and a few more cabs next to the Montgomery Ward's entrance. Now that mall is the headquarters of an internet hosting company. [rackspace.com]

      I was in college in the early '80s, and could play Gravitar for like half an hour on a quarter, and two-fisted Gauntlet, pumping dozens of quarters into one character to get a high score on another character that had a single quarter. (high scores were

    • I'm pretty sure removing the arcades back in the 90s and oughties was a deliberate strategy by the Malls to remove the unwanted guests -- teens and tweens. They certainly villianized that demographic in other ways, often enacting policies to discourage that demographic from hanging out in the food court, loitering in the mezzanines, sitting quietly on the benches . . . having an arcade just attracted them like flies to roadkill, so they had to go. Since the demographic was viewed as not having much to spen
    • by antdude (79039)

      Over a decade ago, I went to my childhood's local mall. It used to be Time Out with arcades. There is a larger arcade area, but with newer games and expensive. :(

    • more than anything else. Same goes for Arcades. $0.25 cents had a lot more buying power 30 years ago, but then again so did everything else. Arcade operators needed to raise prices to $1 or more a play to be profitable, but very few people can throw that kind of money away for 5 minutes of entertainment. If you're going to hang out at a mall for hours on end you need enough disposable income to do stuff.

      I've seen a lot of harebrained theories about what cause the 80's game crash, but fact is it was just
  • There's a Raiden 2 board in the lot. It's not Raiden DX, but still, it's not Raiden 1 either.

  • by Chas (5144)

    Cabinets I see.
    Holy cow this stuff is rare!
    Get in good with Grams.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:26AM (#47359905) Journal
    Back in a previous life I repaired arcade games. A fair number of the PCBs pictured are knock-offs (illegal copies). Not surprising, really.
  • Anybody want some real classic machines that have been in-service since the 80s? I've got about two dozen, and it may be a good time to start unloading them soon.

    Pac-man, Ms Pac-Man, Centipede, Choplifter, Galaxian, Street Figher 2, etc.

    Anybody got tips on unloading them? With something like eBay, it seems you either limit yourself to a tiny fraction of the audience for local-pickup only, or freight charges can dominate the sale price.

    For anyone thinking about it, they're simpler than computers, and not t

  • What are those arcade games with the girl pictures on them? Dating simulator games where you try to say the right thing to a static image of a real person?

    Just curious on cultural arcade differences, did kids play games with sex and nudity in them or was it more like Leisure Suit Larry?

  • by morgauxo (974071) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @10:08AM (#47360343)

    Everyone seems to be pushing up the date this place closed. Sensationalizing the time capsule perhaps? TFS says 80s. TFA says early 90s. One of the games in the photos is "Cherry Master '97". Hmm... I wonder how much research it would take to determine when that game came out? "Early" 90s indeed. So the place was open at least until 1997.

  • The machines have an AERO CITY logo on them, but with the weird font they used, I first read it as NERD CITY.

  • I live in Tokyo, and I've seen tons of similar-looking arcades close within the last 10 years I've been here, including some in very recent years. Video arcades are still somewhat of a thing here in Japan, unlike most other countries - though they are rapidly disappearing here as well. As others have pointed out, judging by some of the games pictured, this arcade hasn't been closed for more than maybe 10-15 years at the very most, and I'll bet it's actually a lot less than that. I should mention that I do
  • Yeah great article !

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