Arcade Infinity closing it’s doors January 15th

arcadehero December 28, 2010 14

UPDATE: Arcade Infinity will NOT be closing on Jan. 15th and will stay open for now. Read the details here

I am always happy when I hear about a new arcade location opening their doors somewhere around the world (as we reported about in the post previous this one with two new Timezone locations opening up) – on the flipside I dread reporting an arcade closure for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it means people loose their jobs, players loose a place to play at and hang out, and someone’s dream comes to a close. It’s also depressing as often it seems that some in the gaming press are happy to jump on closure news while ignoring news of places that open.

This particular closure is bad news for arcade fans in southern California as this location has some history not just in the area but also in the US arcade scene at large. The location is Arcade Infinity, an arcade that was among the first locations to import Dance Dance Revolution to the US, something that changed the scene overall for many other locations and players. The have brought many other Bemani games to the US, such as Beatmania, they kept the games up-to-date and overall offered a unique experience to players. They also had games like BlazBlue and DJ Max Technika. Kevin Williams gets into more detail on the history of AI after the break. I offer a salute to the fine folks at Arcade Infinity and wish them the best of luck in future endeavors, whatever those might be. If you live in the area then the people of BemaniStyle.com are hosting a big get-together to celebrate everything AI has done over the past 10 years. Here is a video made by Jared Rea which gives a tour of the location from not too long ago.Not all is lost however as close by a new company has opened their doors called Round 1. They offer a large selection of games and like AI they offer unique Bemani games. They are the only US location I know of to offer the latest versions of GuitarFreaks and DrumMania, along with specially made software for US users. I don’t know if the opening of Round 1 this past September was the final nail in the coffin for AI or not but at least players won’t be completely left out in the cold with them so close by.

Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report

News broken by the bemanistyle.com – that Arcade Infinity would close in the New Year. This famous So-Cal arcade venue is the latest arcade facility to close in the So-Cal territory – most recently the ‘Tokyo Game’ center, or the historically important ‘Southern Hills Golfland’ that closed a few years back. All these were ‘old school’ arcades that had a loyal following of players. No more than at ‘Arcade Infinity’, which was among first US location to import and operate a ‘Dance Dance Revolution‘ cabinet from Japan when no other distributor would consider it, responsible for starting the phenomenal rise of the genre outside of Japan – unsupported by the trade.

While many will point to this news as continued proof of the death of amusement – the reality is that amusement still plays an important part in the heart of the So-Cal entertainment area – one of the many venues that now captures the Out-of-Home entertainment hunger for the social gaming experience – is the ‘Round 1’ bowling and entertainment complex – less than a few miles from the Arcade Infinity location. Opened this year in So-Cal, a facility based on the Japanese model that comprises more arcade pieces in one place than the three or four older closed arcades combined and is incredibly popular!

But also in the catchment of where the Arcade Infinity stood is a Speedzone, Chuck E Cheese, Gameworks (still operational), and Nickel Nickel 5 Cent Games amusement chains; along with another major bowling facility (AMF) and countless cinemas – all these sites comprise an amusement component – not matter how small. It has been calculated that though the ‘dedicated’ amusement site may have dwindled – the reality is that there are more amusement / redemption products in circulation than ever before.


14 Comments »

  1. DarkTetsuya December 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    also I’d heard many people planning to go for one last visit before they close their doors on January 15th… not sure I’ll be able to make it but you never know.

  2. CrackPr0n December 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Not that the article isn’t important, but there’s a lot of mis-information in this article. AI was hardly the first arcade to import stuff, as many many many places did so far before AI. But AI was seen as a haven for bemani players. Places like UltraZone (whose owners took over AI), Southern Hills Golfland(which was THEE arcade in Socal for fighting game players and Bemani players alike and I assume you mean this place as I’ve never heard of “Emerald Hills”), Palace Park, Super Arcade, and many other places already existed. AI became the haven because they went out of there way for their customers. Updating equipment, shelling out thousands for better monitors for their IIDX machines, updating their other games asap.

    The owners of UZ and later AI really made the customers feel loved. Keeping the arcade open upwards to 5am sometimes for us, buying catered food, and asking for our opinions and thoughts about almost everything they could do to make things better. A lot of which resulted in them probably losing money, but it was worth it to make all of their customers happy.

    • arcadehero December 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      No where did myself or Kevin claim that it was the only place to ever import games, so I’m not sure why you would need to claim that the article is “full of mis-information”

      • CrackPr0n December 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm - Reply

        ” No more than at ’Arcade Infinity’, the first US location to import and operate the very first ’Dance Dance Revolution‘ cabinet from Japan when no other distributor would consider it, responsible for starting the phenomenal rise of the genre outside of Japan – unsupported by the trade.”

        I never said that it was the “only”. I said it was “not the first”. As well as Southern Hills Golfland being the major socal arcade that closed, not “Emerald Hills Golfland”

        • arcadehero December 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm -

          I’ll wait to hear from Kevin about those two things, he will probably address it soon and let me know if he wants anything on his part changed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

        • editor December 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm -

          @crackpot – yes I meant SouthHills, the one mentioned is about to make an announcement and we jumped the gun.

          I said the first – as ‘beatmanistyle’ and ‘beatbox’ claimed they were the first to have operational BEMANI games on US soil. I will go and check again – but if this is such a big issue I would gladdy add the statement ‘..one of..’!!

          Your attack on the comments say “..a lot of Mis-Information..” – that would mean that I was trying to point to another matter – rather than made a typo and a generalization? What mis-information other that these two items were you referring too?

  3. CrackPr0n December 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Now us old kids are arguing about it over twitter. I know the first two arcades that got DDR in the US were Palace Park in Irvine and Southern Hills Golfland in Stanton. There’s debate over which got it first, but from my recollection SHGL got it 5 days prior to Palace Park. In the summer of ’99

    Now for the first import kit. Super Arcade in Walnut, or SHGL in Stanton were the first, and none of us can remember which one got it first. As I remember making trips from LA to go to SA to play it. I’m fairly certain that Super Arcade is the first arcade in the US to have a playable JP DDR mix setup.

  4. Crabby December 29, 2010 at 3:46 am - Reply

    I could be wrong but I read that the closing is because the lease is up on the building and\or their arcade license is about to expire. Can anyone confirm this?

  5. igo December 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I hate to hear about one of the best arcades in the US closing up. 🙁

  6. editor December 30, 2010 at 7:18 am - Reply

    @crabby — yes your right, the lease has risen and the attendance dropped. Interesting that the increase in costs came just as new entertainment venues opened in the area.

    I also wonder how much the operation price has increased as they have to maintain older machines. The longer venues keep systems – the harder to maintain and as tech’s are the first to be cost cut then this is a issue.

    Notice we never heard back from crackp0rn so I assume that he changed his mind over the comment about ‘Mis-Information’. There defiantly seems to be an issue with some when we talk about amusement numbers!

    If the console game sale slump continues will the attacks against those talking about amusement from the fanboys increase?

  7. Dave_K. December 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    AI was a bit out of the way for me whenever I drive down to LA, but always convinced the wife it was worth a detour. Sad to see it go.

  8. Eddie Lehecka December 31, 2010 at 1:14 am - Reply

    In my original article I stated that AI was the first to import MANY of the first BEMANI games, not that they were the first location to have DDR. Although, they were technically the first to have IIDX, pop’n music, drummania, parapara paradise, mambo a gogo, dance maniax, etc. as many of those machines were placed at Ultrazone, the arcade that the Tao brothers operated before they took over Arcade Infinity from their former business partners.

    I’ll be writing up a history on AI complete with videos and pictures shortly after the location closes, along with a whole plethora of videos and interviews on the last day of operation.

  9. editor January 2, 2011 at 10:14 am - Reply

    look forward to the article on the history – any chance one of the amusement trade papers would take it?

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