Playland Japan is a Great Destination for Video Game Fanatics
Not so long ago, video game parlors were the place to be if you had extra time, extra quarters in your pocket and a love for video games. Few malls across the country didn’t have at least one dimly lit video game parlor with pinball machines, change machines and lots of video games playing 16-bit graphics and sound. The explosive popularity of PC gaming and home gaming consoles have driven the majority of video game parlors out of business but a few still remain, including a very unique one in San Francisco’s Japantown neighborhood.
Playland Japan is unique because is features only video games that were made for Japanese players, complete with Japanese lettering, signage and (unless you read Japanese) utterly inscrutable directions on how to play. However, the staff is quite helpful if you have questions and there is signage (in English,) that describes how to play the various games and attain the goals.
While most video games made for players outside Japan featured some combination of guns, buttons and joysticks to control play, the games created for the Japanese market feature all sorts of interactive devices, such as drumsticks and drums, tabletops to slap and flip and many other fun and quite unusual modes of play. Adding to the unique Japanese arcade experience is that, just as in Japan, many of the games dispense candy and toys as rewards for playing. There are also authentic Japanese sodas, snacks, game prizes, and tchotchkes for sale, along with pop music competing with the noises coming from each game. If you like claw machines, this place is for you. Playland Japan has lots of them, each of which is loaded with plush toys and other typical claw machine stuff, except that these items were made for Japanese players.
Also unlike most video game arcades back in the day, Playland Japan is clean and well lighted. If you wax nostalgic for the video arcades of your youth and want to revisit that experience in a new way or you’ve always wanted to play those cool Japanese video games you saw in magazines when you were a kid, here’s your chance! Playland Japan is located in the West Mall of the Japan Center Malls in San Francisco’s Japantown neighborhood. There is ample mall parking but you’re probably better off taking a rental or mass transit to get there. The address of the West Mall is 1737 Post Street (Post and Webster) and the official mall site at http://japancentersf.com/ has helpful driving and mass transit directions. Playland Japan’s hours can be a bit unpredictable, so check their Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/PlaylandJapan before you head out.