By Robert Johnson Jr.
Arts & Features Editor
Oct. 16 gave lovers of niche video games a heartbreaking announcement, one that nobody expected to hear so soon after just 14 years of operation.
The famed Japanese arcade, Anata no Warehouse – known by arcade fanatics as the “Kawasaki Warehouse” – is set to close Nov. 17.
Over those 14 years, gamers from around the world have made the pilgrimage to Kawasaki in search of the legendary, run-down stone building that houses many decades of Japanese gaming history. Those who have seen it can now be considered “fortunate” to have done so.
Anata no Warehouse is, unfortunately, the most prominent arcade closure, but this has been happening for many years.
Ever since the rise of console gaming, smaller Japanese arcades have slowly begun to close left and right, and American arcades have not fared better, despite the revival of arcade culture, thanks to chains like Dave & Buster’s and Round 1.
With all of these closures and a decline of interest in the arcade lifestyle, one can say that arcades will finally become “a thing of the past,” much as people predicted back in 2008.
However, one Japanese company in recent years has set out on a quest to make sure that doesn’t happen – Hamster Corp.
Hamster Corp., or “Hamster,” as they will be known hereafter, has been on a mission since 2014 to deliver the arcade experiences of the past to the gamers of the present. This “mission,” formally called “Arcade Archives,” brings the classic arcade nostalgia to modern consoles with weekly games put onto digital storefronts like the PlayStation Store.
Classic games such as Nichibutsu’s “Moon Cresta,” Jaleco’s “City Connection,” and UPL’s “Nova 2001” remind modern gamers that while these games might all be from the mid-80s, they have paved the way for the games of today, especially those in the indie market.
With Hamster’s releases, they are giving old games new life in the gaming landscape.
Sure, you can play all of those aforementioned games for free by using MAME – the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator – on any computer, but for a $7.99 purchase, one can buy what could be considered the “definitive” release of a game, while also supporting the preservation of arcade games.
With each purchase, you get the game in its original form, but with a few added goodies in the form of foreign-language ROM sets of the game, as well as new modes that challenge players to beat high scores from around the world – something intrinsic to the arcade experiences of yesteryear.
As I’m sure some of you know, the printed circuit boards (PCBs) of arcade games do not live forever – over time, these boards deteriorate, and once they do, a game could, potentially, be lost to time.
That’s the main reason why owners of those PCBs dump the contents of these boards as part of the MAME project – to preserve something culturally important before it becomes inaccessible to future generations.
“Arcade Archives” is important for two reasons – one, it’s an affordable way to bring accurate,
completely emulated versions of arcade hits to the comfort of your home. Two, you get your own piece of gaming history on your console, at least until your digital storefront of choice closes, but that’s another topic for another column.
If you’re a fan of arcade culture, or just miss the “good old days” of arcade gaming before everything became a ticket redemption amusement park, I recommend that you throw $7.99 at an “Arcade Archives” release and play what could become your new favorite game.