Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi, an internationally published reviewer and reporter about the video games industry, writes the Gaming Guru blog for WRAL.com.
LAS VEGAS – The old days of Mom and Pop arcades and mall arcades are long gone, done away by home consoles and online gameplay that has connected gamers around the world. Sega’s GameWorks, along with Dave & Busters, have sprouted up in their place.
These arcade/restaurant/bar entertainment centers are geared to family and friends. I was able to check out GameWorks in Las Vegas this past weekend. Sonic was there to greet everyone before they headed down the escalator to play games below the M&M World and Coca-Cola Stores on the Las Vegas Strip.
For those who have their kids along with them in Vegas (a town that’s definitely not very kid-friendly), GameWorks does provide a way to spend a day. It’s $35 for an all-day pass that will get unlimited rides and arcade games and even virtual bowling. You can also play by the hour. GameWorks has eliminated the need for quarters or tokens. A card slides through each machine and you have a running timer of how long it’s good for.
While Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii have brought gaming home, the one advantage these new arcades have over those consoles is in the motion rides. I played Sega’s Outrun 2 on my new Slim PSP on the flights over to Vegas. But playing the sit-down version of the game, linked with three other cars in a full motion simulator, blew away that experience.
The tracks were identical, but it’s just a lot more fun to race in a simulator with a big screen in front of you. GameWorks has a lot of driving simulators, including a Sega Formula One game with eight linked cars. I even got a kick out of the old games like Sega’s Daytona USA 2, which I remember playing on Sega’s Dreamcast system back in the day.
The games that were the most fun at DreamWorks were titles like House of the Dead 4, which use lightguns that bring the campy horror shooter to life. They have an entire room with every House of the Dead game together, which is very dark, and great for enjoying the entire franchise. In addition to the gun games, it’s also fun to try out the surfing and skateboarding simulators that actually feature boards that you have to interact with. The same simulators were available for skiing and even street luge.
These are the types of things you can’t do at home – yet. I also got a kick out of the full simulation rides like After Burner Extreme, which replicate the jet fighter experience. There’s certainly enough games to go around, from classics to fighters to the simulator and lightgun games to kill a few hours in Vegas. And at least with this place, you know exactly how much money you’re going to lose going in…