The years of immensely popular coin-operated arcades may be firmly behind us, yet a small but dedicated group of virtual drivers still love to spend endless hours in front of these mammoth setups, plugging away at the likes of OutRun, Initial D, and Wangan Midnight. And just like sim racing, these communities are ripe with drama, tomfoolery, and generally absurd behavior which serve to detract the fun from what should be lighthearted video games in an open bar setting. A Reader Submission which landed in my inbox at the beginning of June but has been neglected until now, we’re about to take a look at a world not a whole lot of sim racers are familiar with – yet the content will fit right in here at PRC.net.
Hey guys. Please keep my name anonymous on this one. I don’t want to get stalked or some shit.
We have seen that some (or many) sim racing communities can be quite toxic on a regular basis. But what about the arcade cabinet communities? It depends, as we are yet to see some drama from, say, a Daytona USA community – if one even exists – and I heard that arcade communities in North America are quite small and insignificant… So let’s move to a territory on the other side of the globe: Southeast Asia.
A bit of an info dump, for those who have never heard about the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune series of arcade racers. It’s a racing arcade cabinet based on a Japanese comic meant to rival Initial D. It features many popular JDM cars – aside from Honda – that you can collect and save to a physical ID car, as well as a customization system that some find superior to the Need for Speed Underground games. It’s pretty cool for an arcade racing cabinet. The only problem is that you need to grind out a lot of time behind the wheel to unlock both visual and performance upgrades, on a per-car basis. Yes, you’re essentially asked to waste several hundred dollars to upgrade your vehicle of choice, and doing a bit of quick math, it can eclipse even the steep costs offered by iRacing. What’s worse, is that it uses a level/rank system, so you need to rank up to unlock a part like in Call of Duty.
The fifth and most recent version of the game rectified this a bit by replacing the rank system for the money system, so you only need to grind just a bit less than before to earn enough credits for your desired modification. Unfortunately, this system is only featured in the Japanese version of the title, but not the international version, which is essentially a title update for the fourth version. Regardless, the rank system is one of the reasons why this cabinet is very popular in Southeast Asia.
Unfortunately, this causes many egotistical assholes to burst onto the scene, and obviously they are the ones who end up ruining the communities.
My friend made a post on Facebook complaining about some arcade cabinet community. He went to chill at an arcade center for a few hours to kill some time once his trip to the mall had ended, and discovered a Midnight Tune 5 cabinet was on location. Sadly, he discovered someone was hogging the whole machine to himself, and the reason was simply to achieve a milestone reward. Not only that, the machine had actually been chained off, and upon inquiring with the staff members, employees of the location had said the random Midnight Tune 5 player had actually rented out the machine for the entire day. Midnight Tune 5 is a machine that charges one dollar per race, and the guy was there from opening to close, so we’re talking a fee of several hundred dollars just to grind out an arcade cabinet. So my buddy, he makes a post on Facebook – and I’ll translate it for you guys:
“Mate, just because you have a shitload of money, doesn’t mean you can be a dipshit. It’s a public place after all, give a turn to other people, no matter if it’s quiet there or not, no matter if the person is a casual player or not. It’s like when you’ve pre-ordered every copy of a game from GameStop – that’s just pathetic.”
Everything seems fine, his friends agreed with him, until…
Again, I’ll translate this one for you, PRC.net. The guy hogging the machine himself actually found my friend’s post and commented on it. Apparently, he’s a member of Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune community. He admitted that he paid the manager of the arcade center to hog the whole MT5 cabinet for himself, and told my friend to find another arcade center that has MT5 cabinets.
I mean, for fucks sake! You hogged the whole machine for yourself, and told other people to go to another place? It’s not that easy man… But take note of the likes. That’s actually his team members circlejerking over him. Oh, and that comment section went from peaceful into full shitstorm tier. Many of the community members insulted my friend in that post, calling him a peasant because he only plays MT5 on a casual basis, while the hardcore MT5 community members regularly spent upwards of $1000. They even PM’d my friend on Facebook outright insulting him. I told my friend to stay away from that community and that certain arcade center in the future, just so he didn’t run into these clowns in person.
Uh huh… Wasting $1000 on an arcade game. I’d rather blow that money on something useful. But money talks, correct? Now to be fair, my friend posted a photo from the back of the arcade, without the hogger’s consent, and he never physically went up to the hogger and asked if he could have a turn, so maybe what he did was a bit impolite. But let’s face it, with that attitude, we already expected what happened on Facebook. It probably wouldn’t have changed anything.
Is there anything worse than this?
I never got to experience the glory days of coin-op arcades, as the only one that remained open and successful into the early 2000’s – Playdium in West Edmonton Mall, was shut down before I was old enough to venture there on my own. However, as a PC gamer dating back to the late 1990’s, I never really understood the point of them in the first place. I had NFL Blitz at home for my N64… why would I want to pay for every single exhibition game against the AI on a shitty board, when I preferred the feel of the N64 controller? Why would I want to drop change on a play through of that 18 Wheeler Game, when the home version for the GameCube was utterly trashed by critics? So the whole arcade cabinet craze, stuff like Wangan Midnight or Initial D… It’s all lost on me.
But as for this dude paying the owner of an arcade to rent a machine for the entire day… Like, why not just outright buy one? Is that possible? With how much money it costs to sit there for a day and grind out mundane bullshit, couldn’t you just buy your own as people are doing with the old school NBA Jam and Crusin’ USA cabinets? Hell, if you’ve got the cash to spend on sitting your ass in front of a cabinet for a day, how are these guys not hardcore PC gamers? I just fail to see the point in all this. Home consoles made arcade cabinets completely irrelevant, and basically everybody won in the end. Companies made enormous profits – as many more people wanted a copy of NBA Jam they could play eternally for a one time fee of $60 than those who played NBA Jam in arcades, and customers quickly got their $60 worth from the title in a single sitting with their buddies – if not more.
So maybe I’m missing something, and I guess this is your turn to fill me in, but why don’t these hardcore arcade guys just buy a machine of their own? Connectivity problems? Why don’t they move on to home consoles? I’m admittedly a bit lost.