Rebirth of the Arcade

Before the Mitsuwa marketplace chain absorbed the Yaohan supermarket chain, Little Tokyo Shopping Center at 333 S. Alameda was called Yaohan Plaza. Back then, Yaohan Plaza had a rocking arcade that was full of cool Japanese games, like the train conductor game in which you started and stopped the train by moving a handle. Unfortunately, like Yaohan, the arcade suffered its own economic difficulties and eventually shut its doors.

But, based on reports from friends, I towed my 11-year-old nephew downtown last week both to raid Mitsuwa for Japanese candy and (more importantly to me) to check out the reopened arcade. Now located on the second floor (didn’t it used to be on the third?), the arcade at Little Tokyo Square is indeed open again and full of a whole slew of cool games. There are, of course, a bunch of variations on Dance Dance Revolution (guitar, drum, DJ and taiko versions, in fact). There’s also a Golgo 13 sniper game which, unlike modern run-and-gun shooters, is all about taking your time and lining up the perfet single shot, and a samurai game in which you hold the handle of a virtual samurai sword and swing it wildly at the screen. And fans of the light-gun game House of the Dead might be interested in a version of the game called Typing of the Dead, where you wield a keyboard instead of a gun. But it’s not all novelty games, there are plenty of straight-forward fighters and shooters, as well as a soccer game that lets you save your own teams if you buy a memory card from the counter for $1. If you don’t read Japanese (and I don’t), it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on with some of the titles. But the place is pretty empty so if you have enough tokens you should be able to get most of them through trial and error. And if you have an 11-year-old nephew in from out of town he’ll think you’re the coolest uncle ever.

4 Replies to “Rebirth of the Arcade”

  1. Rock on! I may have to check that out next time I’m in town.

    BTW, Typing of the Dead was actually released for the PC years ago. I tried it once, but didn’t last very long. Those zombies are tough…

    Few people know there were also the rather less well-known and far less popular games to learn programming, Terminate and Stay Resident Evil and What’s My Linux?

  2. I think that arcade has been there almost as long as the third-floor arcade (Hi-Tech 21?) has not. Sorry you didn’t know about it until now!

    Before the third-floor arcade disappeared (and, I think, before it opened), there used to be another arcade in the bowling alley on opposite side of the third floor (so above Yaohan I guess). I think it shut down sometime in the early- or mid-90s and became a karaoke bar…?

    I don’t know if the mall was ever called Yaohan Plaza…? I thought the faÁade always said Little Tokyo Plaza. Or maybe they changed it to Yaohan Plaza sometime in the 90s when I wasn’t paying attention. I’m pretty sure it was LTP in the 80s when it went up.

    And Typing of the Dead is a freaking awesome game.

    BTW, Hanaichimonme on the third floor makes really good yakisoba. I also used to love their ramen until I ate at Daikokuya and realized how comparatively thin Hana’s broth is.

  3. I think that arcade has been there almost as long as the third-floor arcade (Hi-Tech 21?) has not. Sorry you didn’t know about it until now!

    Curses. I stopped even going to the 2nd floor for a long time and look what I missed.

    I don’t know if the mall was ever called Yaohan Plaza…? I thought the faÁade always said Little Tokyo Plaza. Or maybe they changed it to Yaohan Plaza sometime in the 90s when I wasn’t paying attention. I’m pretty sure it was LTP in the 80s when it went up.

    The facade must’ve said Yaohan Plaza at some point around 1997, when I moved here. If you Google “Yaohan Plaza” “Los Angeles,” you’ll see a bunch of references to it. In fact, Yaohan seems to have secured naming rights to every location they had. Which all went to pot when they folded. The name change for Yaohan Plaza in London sounds like it was a pretty big deal.

    BTW, Hanaichimonme on the third floor makes really good yakisoba. I also used to love their ramen until I ate at Daikokuya and realized how comparatively thin Hana’s broth is.

    Ah, good to know. I’m always looking for food recommendations for Little Tokyo. There are so many places it’s hard to decide where to start.

  4. I’m pretty sure it was LTP

    Oh, and that’s a strange thing as well. It seems to be called by a number of different names. Their web site is “Little Tokyo Shopping Center,” but more people seem to call it “Little Tokyo Plaza.” I haven’t looked to see what the actual signage says now.

    The 2nd floor arcade’s real name, btw, is apparently “Japan Arcade.” “Hi-Tech 21” sounds familiar for the 3rd floor one.

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