I have a bad habit about being late when I have to meet up with friends. I blame traffic, answering calls on my cell phone, saving princesses as excuses in the USA and people are pretty much fine with it. My friends in Japan… not so much. People are super punctual here and if I’m late by even a minute I’ll get a call on my cell phone. So, I’ve got into the habit of arriving much earlier and I’m left with time to kill. Fortunately, plenty of places have arcades for me to hang out in. (You’ve seen a handful of arcade posts on Siliconera, right?)
Between all of the time spent playing Deathsmiles, Taiko no Tatsujin and trying to improve my UFO catcher skills I made an observation. An unscientific observation without double blind tests, Z-scores or anything of the like, but nearly every time I’m at an arcade in the early evening I see couples playing Rhythm Tengoku.
What is Rhythm Tengoku? It’s an arcade version of a Game Boy Advance game made by Sega. The games are easy to pick up, all you have to do is press buttons on a beat, and the visuals scream Wario Ware. In the easiest game you train a crudely drawn karate fighter by punching flower pots and lightbulbs by pressing the A button. In another game you pluck hairs off an onion by pressing the A button, but the pattern for removing hairs changes after each round. The games are simple, silly fun that two people can enjoy. Usually around the time to meet up with people for dinner, two people are playing Rhythm Tengoku, more specifically a guy and a girl.
After noticing this I thought about how Rhythm Tengoku would fair in North America. Obviously, Sega would have to localize Rhythm Tengoku in English and move it outside of the Gameworks arcades they own. However, I don’t think bars would be the right place for Rhythm Tengoku. Movie theaters and university student unions would be better. Too bad it won’t happen. Arcade games like Rhythm Tengoku can be a good option for a date. I mean at least you’re talking to the other person (maybe even laughing… you know having fun) while you're mashing the A button opposed to watching a movie in silence.