Round 1 USA, a Japanese FEC company keeps on growing. AH correspondent Phil Arrington, who has provided us with some stories on occasion of some happenings here and there, recently made a visit to their newest location. Here are his thoughts and pictures from the Lakewood facility, take it away Phil:
“It’s been three years since Round 1 touchdown in Southern California and what it brought, besides hope, is a new establishment of family entertainment center in America that the public been demanding. For the moment, Round 1 is relaxing in California with 3 locations (Puente Hills, Moreno Valley and now Lakewood) and the rest of America is waiting to see when or if Round 1 will get to their city or state.
Lakewood is a city that is in Los Angeles County between Long Beach and Cerritos. Its a diverse city that is often seen as the bastard cousin of Long Beach, is a somewhat small town with nothing to do. Most of the residents often drive to Long Beach because there’s no entertainment what so ever aside from the mall. That being said, I somewhat expected this mall and location to be the same as Puente Hills…….which in fact it is. Seriously! When you first arrive, you’ll notice that it has a lot of the same stores that are found around the Puente Hills location; Costco, 24 hour Fitness, Jamba Juice, Target, Chill’s and on and on without the Speedzone. So, I expected more of the same of this location; same games, new city and diversity. But, man was I wrong.
The first thing you’ll notice is the escalator going up to the location itself and all the UFO catchers surrounding the entrance. It looks like something you’ll see in Japan or Europe, because those arcades are known for having a front presentation that attracts people. The location is not dark and dim like Puente Hills. It’s bright, quiet and mellow. And when you turn around to see what they have, you’ll probably say “they just took a dump on the competition.”
Round1 went all out of this location and trying to grab whatever crowd that’s still going to “KDB” (Kitchen, Den Bar a.k.a. the former Gameworks) and “Regency Arcade”. For one, there are so many UFO catchers in this place. They flooded this location with them. There are so many redemption games, some I haven’t seen like the new PacMan Ticket Mania from Raw Thrills. What surprised me is how Dragon Punch and King of the Hammer is missing from this location.
Their mix combines the old with the new. How many arcades still have a Final Fight? A Mark of the Wolf that’s not in a bootleg 256 games in 1 board? A Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter that’s not in a laundry Mat? And right next to them is a TTT2: Unlimited (Tekken Tag Tournment 2), Gundam and Super Street Fighter 4 2012? Certainly not many in So Cal these days.
Beyond those…..they went hard on the Bemani and music games; Hatsune Miku is M.I.A. for the moment since the game is not set up. I didn’t take pictures of all the games since there were so many (my Galaxy Note 2 camera is ok. I was not prepared to go to this location so I did not have my normal camera). Tank Tank Tank, and few others I missed. You’ll see in the photos.
They pack so much in this place compared to Puente Hills. I believe a lot of the people from the Long Beach area will travel to this place daily. It seems the focus is going to be more on the games than the other stuff like food since there are not that many tables; there are only 3 Karaoke rooms, 2 ping pong tables. That is probably because there are plenty of restaurants and bars in the surrounding area.
What are the problems with this location? For one……if you’re not a fan of Cinnabon, you’re going to have a problem. There’s a one right above the arcade and the smell is so strong that it flows throughout the arcade. It makes your mouth watery and makes you say “screw it, I don’t mind being obese for a while”. Since the food court is gone (Round 1 replaced the food court) you’re stuck between this and Wetzels Pretzels until they get the fries place open.
Now that I am getting ready to hit the big 3-0 next year, I feel different being here. Actually, I feel like a pedophile, because this place is jailbait city. This location has teenagers…..not kids, Teens, running around, jumping on machines as if they’re 7. Seriously, I was scratching my head wondering when they will have full security staff to enforce the rules. I give this location 6 months. I wonder when I’m going to see the first tagged name on the Gitdora machine. Just to be clear; X-Lanes is more for the night life since it aims at adults with its hard alcohol, live DJ on the ones and twos, and its restaurant. Round 1 is aiming at the kids. You can say that the Lakewood City Council or the mayor, Steve Croft, made the right choice by giving Round 1 the go ahead to set up in the mall location because this city is filled with kids with nothing to do. You know you’re old when you realize there’s a metal detector in the prize area of an arcade. Yes that’s right “A %&#@ING METAL *#@&ING DETECTOR”. I’ve never seen this.
They got it right with mixing the old games with the new but at the same time they did it wrong. How can I describe this? It’s like the people at the Round 1 Japan location sat down and wanted to throw away some old school games that nobody is playing anymore when someone said “Hey, let’s throw these to the new location.” There is Capcom v. SNK 1…..ONE. Not 2, but 1. I can barely let DoDonPachi II slide. It’s a damn good game, but over DDP: Dai-Fukkatsu and Saidaioujou? Whose idea was it to put Strikers 1945 in the arcade? Both games are on the vertical LCD cabinets. Power Smash 1, but not even 4? MSH vs. Street Fighter over Marvel vs. Capcom 2? Darkstalkers……….The Night Warriors, yes I love this game but we couldn’t get Vampire Hunter or Savior 2? Some of the selections aside, the real problem is that all these games are a dollar. I can’t remember a time in my life where I paid a dollar for Strikers 1945 unless the Neo Geo cab took my quarter. How are you going to have the old games at the prices of some of the new ones? It could be an experiment or IGS donated their left over games to them. It seems no one was guiding them when it came to fighters or shoot em ups. Even the Tech was saying that most of these games, if not all, were not new, but came from somewhere else.
But all and all, this place packs a mean punch and it has the potential to be more successful than the other two locations with the right decisions. A few of my friends last night agreed with me and give this place 6 months before it go downhill with a video of parents fighting showing up on World Star Hip Hop. I hoping it don’t, but it might. Some of the people that live in the area never saw an arcade before or a family entertainment center. Some are confused about the content of the games people are playing. It’s all new to them and many have forgotten that arcades exist. The bubble of the console generation (in my opinion) is about to pop where people are moving to PC’s and finding alternative ways to kill their time. With Round 1 being around, it giving people a reason to step out of the house and hang out there.”
Thanks to Phil once again for providing this review with the pics, if you’re anywhere near the area be sure to check it out!