Japan Arcade

Best Arcade, February 2005

Love video games but hate all the “Rated M for Mature” carnage? At Japan Arcade in Little Tokyo, combatants can trade in their Uzis and AK-47s for drum kits and electric guitars. The video game Taiko no Tatsujin allows opponents to go head-to-head on large taiko drums (animated squid, badgers, and dragons cheer the winner), while wanna-be DJs and scratchers can battle on Beatmania III Append 7th Mix, where contestants play along to Japanese pop songs on dual keyboards and turntables. Gotta dance? Japan Arcade also has a slew of Dance Dance Revolution–style games. (A caveat: Many of the arcade’s 40-plus machines only have instructions in Japanese, but most are pretty simple to figure out.) Clean, friendly, and relatively quiet, this is one of the least intimidating arcades in town, but don’t come to duke it out on the weekends without first woodshedding at home—some contestants have clearly practiced songs and routines for hours.