Evening nears on the Akiba horizon, and thoughts turn to dinner and where to go during the night. You do have a keitai denwa (portable phone), don't you? Nearly 1 in 3 Japanese do these days. Why don't I call some-a my friends and see what they're doing tonight?

This is Akihabara Hi-Tech Land, a Sega-run arcade smack in the middle of Chuo doori. Like most arcades in Tokyo, it goes up several floors, each successive floor having older games until you come to the promised land - Donkey Kong, Skykid and the arcade version of Renegade for 50 yen per play.

Today's visit closes with an inevitable fact - Nintendo isn't number one these days. They're relying on one small hit after another to keep the N64 afloat. Meanwhile, Sega has no problems lining up people to buy Dreamcast games all the time. Their arcades are everywhere, and you never know when you might be accosted by Sonic at a train station or video game shop. I went to the Sonic Adventure debut at Yodobashi Camera on December 23rd just to get the true experience of what waiting in line for Dragon Quest was like back in the day. In Japan, when it comes to hit games buying them at Shinjuku or Akiba is half the fun.

It's expensive, and soulless giant department stores are slowly taking over, but Akihabara is still a fun place to spend an afternoon and try to find something.

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