Gunslinger Stratos

Imagine this: a 3rd-person arena-based team battle that you can play online with headset comms in an arcade.

Now imagine you can customise your character and save it to an IC card to build up over time.

Now imagine the controls are dual analogue sticks on the back of two hefty pistols, which are lightguns, fired point-blank at a 50" screen.

Now imagine you can lock the pistols together in different positions to activate different weapon types.

Now imagine the arenas are all real districts of Tokyo that you can run around in, sneaking down alleyways and blowing stuff up.

Sounds fun?

Oh, and you can fly.

Gunslinger Stratos is so, so amazing. However, when I did a write-up a few years ago for Tokyo Game Centre on, I was sceptical about it catching on. It was like an arcade gamer's dream, I said, but the complexity was too high a barrier to entry. I was writing about version 1. There have been 4 or 5 versions now, whose continued presence in the mainstream game centres proves me very wrong.

Happy to be wrong, though. What a game.

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