In his latest column in Weekly Famitsu, Sakurai talked about going to the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park on one of his holidays. "Inside [the park], there is a 'Game Museum' which houses numerous displays about the history of [video] games, so I took a leap and went to check it out." Sakurai wrote.
One major attraction in the museum is a hands-on area where they have actual retro game arcade cabinets with games like Space Invaders and Street Fighter II and other historically significant games. The games can be played for free and enjoyed by customers there for a taste of nostalgia, or people who have never experienced anything that came out earlier than the PlayStation 2. "However, there is a major problem." Sakurai remarked. "Being made available for free is fine, but the maintenance is incredibly bad."
Sakurai observed that many of the game cabinets were faulty with buttons that didn't work -- most likely from overuse -- rendering them unplayable. "Even if you pushed a button on 'The Return of Invaders' you couldn't shoot anything, so it wasn't even a game anymore, and I saw multiple accounts where people would sit down, be unable to do anything, and walk away with a clouded expression." Sakurai recalled. Considering the historical value of some of the machines that were available, Sakurai couldn't hide his disappointment.
Sakurai noted that had the museum been located in Tokyo, there would probably be more people voicing the opinion that they would be willing to pay if it meant that the game cabinets would be maintained better. "However, I feel that the location seems to be very difficult. A plane to the Nagasaki airport. And from there it takes an hour by car and boat." Sakurai explained. "I think that for most people, this is quite an extraneous distance."
Sakurai conceded that for the amusement park, maintaining such a number of game cabinets is probably quite difficult for a number of reasons, from the work required, to the availability of compatible parts and knowledgeable staff. The fact that the games can be played for free also likely leads to more people using them and more wear on the moving parts compared to if they required money to play.
For Sakurai, the trip to the Huis Ten Bosch seemed to serve as lessons on both the value and the potential difficulty of preserving video game history -- something that has been brought to the forefront with recent developments showing what can happen with an all-digital platform.
The Huis Ten Bosch Game Museum is currently open in the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park in Nagasaki, Japan. Admittance to the museum is free. Hopefully at least some of the game cabinets have since been fixed.