What’s Sengoku Taisen?

Ever wondered what those convoluted Japanese arcade games are all about?

Tokyo arcades are not all lightguns and racers. They’re crowded with fantasy sagas and mech battles hosted by the anatomically distinctive cartoon women of Neo Tokyo.

And those games are complicated. You play Sengoku Taisen, for instance, using collectible trading cards.

The cards show pseudo-historical military units from the age of the samurai. You set some out on the near half of the “flatreader” tabletop, then issue orders in real time by sliding them round the battlefield. You want your on-screen army to breach the opposing fort.

If you win, you capture some enemy troops or recruit some marauders or something – so a shiny pack of cards pops out and you grow your army.

There are hundreds of different cards, with heroes rated in a rock-paper-scissors dynamic. Plus guns. Rock-paper-scissors-guns.

It’s networked for local and national competitive play, as is typical for all those alien cabinet rows filling Tokyo arcades.

It’s complex, but once you’re in it’s so engrossing that many cabinets have a 1-hour limit so other players have chance to get on.

This one’s designated for unlimited play by the yellow notice above the screen.

Get comfy.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people