T-Bird’s virtual tour of SEGA JOYPOLIS in Tokyo, Japan

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOLmK-pV6XQ[/youtube]

Greetings from the land of the Rising Sun, TSS! I’m currently over in Tokyo on business, but in between the conferences, work, and copious quantities of sushi, I’ve found some spare time to do some exploring, and like all good merch hunters, I made SEGA JOYPOLIS in Odaiba Tokyo one of the prime places I needed to visit!

Within the halls of the Aqua City Mall lies SEGA Joypolis,  probably the last bastion of SEGA’s hayday in the 90’s. The walls are covered with the signatures of the famous actors and artists who have made a visit to the park over the many years since it’s opening. There’s even the odd advert, picture or fixture that remains, and you can see throughout the park if you look hard enough. Over the years the park has evolved, as has SEGA, with their shift from a market dominating company through to a software developer. Unlike the Trocadero in London though, the park seems to have survived through the hardships and remains a bustling hive of activity and a popular destination for families (and couples on dates!).

As well as the bristling shop full of Sonic plushes and the COSPA line Sonic and SEGA paraphanalia, there’s a whole host of UFO catchers stuffed with Draemon, Disney and other goodies…and unlike UK UFO catchers, these actually let you win occassionally! Upstairs on the second level are the ball games, and this year (to my utter delight) you could pick yourself up a Sonic Mobile plush…which I did after only 600 yen worth of tries. You can also exchange your real money for SEGA Tokens emblazened with Sonic’s face…and so I had to keep a few in my pocket for posterity.

What I didn’t know Was that Night of the Werehog has had a 3D makeover for Joypolis viewing. For a mere 600 yen (about £4/$8) you can sit in on a state-of-the-art showing of the animation that came out just after the release of Unleashed year before last. Some might argue that is quite a steep price to watch a 10 minute short (although the added annoyance is the poor exchange rate), however I am personally overjoyed this little piece of awesome is getting general acclaim in Japan.

The top two floors of Joypolis include a plethora of sit-in rides (including a Prison Break themed-ride) and a line of really, really retro stuff, including some Typing of the Dead cabinets which I think you can actually play for free. These are also complimented by the usual bandit machines and obligatory gambling that seems to prevolent in Japan. Unfortunately the restuarant level called “Joypolis Decks” does not include any Sonic themed food. Disappointing.

The one thing you can be sure of at Joypolis is that if you win something, they will make a fuss, and will insist you take many photos to mark the ocassion! If you’re in and about Tokyo, I think that the 620 yen train ticket and the 500 yen entrance fee is small price to pay to come and check out this place!