The amusement arcade is all about spectacle, creating huge, exciting experiences that may not last very long but leave lingering memories.
This makes it somewhat surprising that so many arcade games rely on very familiar ways to control them, with most games using either a joystick and buttons, a steering wheel, a flight yoke or a laser tag light gun. More recently touchscreens have become an omnipresent part of the arcade experience.
However, that is not to say that these more standard control methods are the only ways to control arcade games, as there have been a lot of games that have used unusual accessories to enhance their gameplay experience. Here are some of the most interesting.
One of the most popular and bizarre imported arcade games of the last decade has been Cho Chabudai Gaeshi!, which roughly translates to “Super Table-Flip”, which simulates the experience of getting so mad in a situation you smack a table and flip it over, sending everyone and everything flying in the process.
Despite being entirely in Japanese and having never received a translation, the game and its sequel are still hugely popular and a regular fixture in a lot of arcades that can track down a machine.
In an entertainment world filled with bright and beautiful amusements and action-packed experiences, the train simulation arcade game “Densha de Go!” would already be considered unusual even before its dashboard recreation was considered.
Housed inside a recreation of a train cab, complete with three huge screens, the game is unusual, huge in scale and surprisingly compelling.
Sonic Blast Man was a 1990 arcade game where you played a superhero who needed to save the world by punching whatever was in his way.
This was achieved quite literally; the player literally punches at a soft target and the force of the punch translates into damage against whatever foe is front and centre on the screen, from hilarious-looking thugs to giant meteorites.
It may seem odd in itself that amidst a lot of strange cabinets and control schemes one of the oddest control schemes included is one that many people use every day, but it is incredibly strange how often the humble keyboard has seen use in video games.
Most infamously, it was the primary control scheme for the 1999 game The Typing of the Dead, where a player’s ability to survive the zombie apocalypse depends on their ability to type the names of flowers very quickly, but it has appeared in a few strange places.
In 2003, the online first-person shooter Counter-Strike received an unusual arcade port in Japan, complete with the game’s keyboard and mouse controls.
In 2001, Sega released Inu no Osanapo (Walk the dog), which used a plastic dog, a lead and a treadmill to simulate walking a dog, guiding it with the lead and yanking it out of danger to ensure the virtual pet is as happy as possible.
Despite the truly strange premise and control scheme, there is something oddly compelling about walking a virtual dog around a virtual route.