There are plenty of video game arcades in Hong Kong. Elizabeth Choi descends into the darkness of some of the city's best to check out what crazy fun lies within
Pac man. Space Invaders.Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Shoot 'em ups. Drive-offs. Even horseracing simulations. Whether it's a classic game or a new-fangled treat for the senses, arcades are havens for nostalgia and high octane fun. And, as the summer heats up, Hongkongers are heading for these dingy little dens of iniquity to chill out and take on their pals at everything from a dance-off to a scrap on Street Fighter 4. Why pace around a mall when you can race cars, play football, shoot guns and bang on taiko drums? We've traded shopping arcades for the real deal, so check out these ace gaming spots…
1. Namco Wonder Park
As its name implies, this arcade is filled with wonderful Namco games like Time Crisis and Tekken. Wangan game lovers can find Midnight Maximum Tune alongside plenty of hands-on activities like basketball, air hockey and Rilakumma-themed claw games. We're particularly intrigued by Hopping Road, which involves frantically jumping up and down on a stationary pogo stick. Needless to say, hardcore arcade-goers may find the ratio of photo sticker booths to fighter games off-putting but we like this place because there's something here for pretty much everyone.
Namco Wonder Park, World Trade Ctr, 6/F, 280 Gloucester Rd, Causeway Bay
In the beating heart of Mong Kok, GameZone is a perfect representation of its neighbourhood. Super-busy and super-cool. This arcade is regularly packed to the rafters with gamers vying for a turn at Initial D and Gundam games (we hear the Street Fighter 4 competition can get pretty stiff here). Try your luck on one of the many medal machines and see how many rounds of King of Fighter you can get in. The arcade has several versions of the series along with a few linked Street Fighter 4 machines. Another bonus (for non-smokers)? They enforce their no smoking policy (well, most of the time…).
GameZone, New Town Mall, 65 Argyle St, Mong Kok
Half the fun of this arcade is trying to get into it. It's a tough game in itself – but we've got a walkthrough: take the lift from the ground floor or the MTR floor up to L11-1. No other lift seems to go to it. Once in, though, you're rewarded with a solid number of Sega games like the classic light gun extravaganzas House of the Dead and Rambo. Need a break from killing zombies? Take a moment to go batshit crazy on GuitarFreaks and Drummania, or test your beatmaking dexterity with DJ Max Technika. A good number of classic fighter games like Street Fighter (in the modded console version), King of Fighter, Midnight 3 DX and Gundam vs Gundam are also to hand.
FUN@apm, L11-1, APM Mall, 418 Kwun Tong Rd, Kwun Tong
4. Hong Kong City Game
Let's face it – in Hong Kong, Street Fighter is still king. And it most certainly reigns supreme at Hong Kong City Game. The ground floor of this unassuming building is home to some of the most legendary Street Fighter battles in Asia. Do prepare to fight your way through the smoke before you fight your way through to the Street Fighter final. This is hallowed ground. Avid Street Fighter fans from all over the world travel to this arcade for tournaments and groups like HKFighter flock here for serious high flyin' action.
Hong Kong City Game, 2-4 Marsh Rd, Wan Chai
5. Game Cyber
There are only a few spots in Hong Kong where you can play Sangokushi Taisen – and this arcade is one of them. People come from all over to do battle in this card-based strategy game – one of the arcade's main pulls. But don't worry if card games aren't your thing, get a few friends together and have at it on the music video game. If you've already tried Drummania and GuitarFreaks, venture over to the strange machines that are Jubeat Copious, an animated music making game, or the hypnotic rhyme game, Reflec Beat. Both succeed in making you look and feel like you're from the future. Kinda.
Game Cyber, B/F, Causeway Bay Plaza, 463-483 Lockhart Rd, Causeway Bay
6. Smart Game
Smart Game is smart. And the area surrounding it is pretty cool too – an extension of the gaming paradise that is this two-storey gem. You can find model cars and gadgets along Kwong Wah Street and game shops on Dundas Street. The game hall itself has a diverse selection from medal machines on the second floor to World Cup Championship Football and all the music video games Benami has made in the last three years on the first. If you've ever wanted to play racing boss game Star Horse then this is your venue.
Smart Game, 1/F & 2/F, Newport Cinema, 60-104 Soy St, Mong Kok