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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Seisatsukan, Shinjuku: The City That Never Sleeps

I was driving around with my mother this afternoon when she said a sentence that I don't usually hear. "Hey Chris," she said, "You want to play some mini-golf?"

Yes, miniature golf: the sport of miniature kings. Despite the fact that I live relatively close to Myrtle Beach, the Miniature Golf Capital of the World, I haven't played in years. At the very least, not since the Putt-Putt in the SMT closed down and became an Enterprise Car Rental, an establishment far less friendly to waving golf clubs around.

Fortunately, due to her boyfriend's grandchildren, Mom was hep to Intimidators Indoor Fun Park, a place that thought it would be a good idea to draw attention to their go-kart track by naming themselves after a racecar driver who died in a crash. Even so, I could not resist the sweet siren song of 18 holes of miniature excitement, so in we went.

I'll be honest with you: the place was pretty ghetto. I'm pretty sure that at least four of the obstacles could've been more challenging had they been plugged in, but considering the final score was 60 to 74 (I won, thank you), we were pretty challenged as it was.

Also, the bathroom was easily one of the three worst I've been to this year. It's called "restocking the toilet paper and soap," folks. Look into it.

But I can forgive all of these shortcomings for one simple fact: The place was an honest-to-God Arcade.

Aladin's Castle closed down a few years ago as part of the ongoing plot to make sure nobody ever has fun in this town again, and even though the place was a shithole, I was sad to see it go. As a child of the '90s, I spent my share of Saturdays pumping quarters into Street Fighter II and wishing I had enough money to buy the sweet denim jacket with Wolverine airbrushed on it down the hall.

But this place... this place had it all. Air hockey. Time Crisis. Time Crisis 2. Some crazy Japanese game about cowboys shooting tin cans. And yes, brothers and sisters, it had Police 911.

Police 911 was the object of an intense fascination at the shop last year. Tug and I used to walk over to the Mall for lunch, have a slice of pizza, and then spend the rest of the hour dropping quarters into this game, even though I knew I'd be limping around for the rest of the week because of it.

Let me explain: The deal with Police 911 is that it's a shooting game, like your Lethal Enforcers or your Area 51. But unlike those games, you actually have to dodge bullets.

And I'm not talking about pushing down a pedal to make your guy duck behind a rock, I'm talking an arcade cabinet with sensors that can tell where you're standing, and will shoot you if you don't physically duck down. It's awesome. But if you're a person who doesn't engage in a lot of, you know, movement? It will fuck your knees up hardcore. So you have to decide whether or not it's worth standing in a public place doing stretches in front of a video game before you pretend to be a guy dressed like a crossing guard who shoots mobsters.

Which it totally is.


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