Geek Baltimore: Round 1

Hey all,

 It’s been a little bit since this blog has seen any action and we apologize. The holidays always get us and it has been especially hectic here at Doomtastic HQ. We did get to go to a fair number of conventions in around the holidays though, so that was good.

The new Round 1 arcade

But we are starting back up for the New Year talking about the series of Round 1 arcades that have been proliferating across the US because one finally opened up near us. WOOHOO!! We have had the amazing opportunity to go to them in Japan as well as in the US so we thought it would be fun to talk about them. We would like to preface the rest of this post by saying we are happy to see more arcades regardless of whether they are different or unique. They provide a great social opportunity and even though they do cost money, it is nice to see a place for individuals to gather that allow and encourage teenagers.

That being said, let’s talk about Round 1 in particular because they are a Japanese entertainment company opening franchises all over the US and they are rapidly expanding which is awesome. The Round 1 locations that we have been to in the US seem a little bit like Dave and Busters at first glance. Near the entrance is primarily shooter style games. Similar to other locations, there are pool/billiard tables and bowling as well as pinball and other arcade games. The bar is close to the entry from the mall as well. In a more secluded corner are more Japanese rhythm games, which definitely sets it apart from other arcades, although some Dave and Busters locations do have DDR now. The rhythm games are naturally of particular interest to us. We do enjoy them, as well as the fact that Round 1 sells Nessica, Banapassport, Konami amusement passes so that you can track progress and connect to the internet so you can compare scores.

What we really miss from the arcades in Japan are the pods and Mecha/piloting simulation games, such as the one that allows you to drive a train. People familiar with the Gundam pods will know what we are talking about. The Round 1 location near us does not have these, and from our experiences and our friends’ experiences, it does not seem that the ones in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have these games either. So we miss these and would really enjoy having access to them.

The screen and cockpit of a mecha simulator game in Japan.

The other complaint that we have is that there do appear to be several problems with games. The Round 1 in Maryland has only been open for approximately 1 month and several games have intermittent malfunctions. We have noted several random people indiscriminately hitting controls on the games. This, of course, affects games that are pressure sensitive more than it does games that use a joystick or gun style controller. Given this, it is not surprising that some of the games have started to malfunction so quickly. In addition, in the month that this location has been open, pinball games have yet to be functional and the bar is not working. We also ran into a few errors with reloading the payment card where the whole system was down. Also problematic is that some of the games have region locks on certain aspects of play which has limited our participation and may impact the longevity of our fascination with them. We will continue to play and frequent the location and see if these changes.

We are really enjoying the ability to play so many games such as Project Diva Arcade and Maimai in arcades when we want. And being able to play these games, with awesome prizes and some really great claw games. Round 1 Baltimore claw prizeThe abilityto engaged in multiple types of recreation, such as an arcade with bowling and karaoke is also not to be overlooked because it allows a fairly large group of people (or even two people who like to do two very different things the way Yosei hates bowling, but Graham LOVES it) to have a wide area of needs met. Plus the prizes that you can earn are pretty darn great!

Anyway, the Round 1 expansion is pretty great and allowing for more people to play games. It is very nice to see arcades making a comeback and we hope to see more in tise vein. Although the gaming lounges that are popping up are also very fun. We are going to keep checking out Round 1 and may update this post or do a follow-up if things change.

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