Border Break is currently the number one arcade game in Japan. It's not a new game, it actually came out on September 9th, 2009. Due to the game's popularity, it was updated to version 2.5 a few months ago with some new maps, weapons and mechs, and has been raking in the 100 yen coins ever since.
The basic premise of the game is simple. When you start the game you are connected with up to 19 other real life players via the internet, 9 of which are on your team and 10 of which are on the other. You select one of four available class types and battle it out for control of the map. The classes you can choose from are Assault, Heavy, Snipe, and Support. These pretty much work exactly like you would expect them to. The assault class is light and can move around quickly, but it's primary gun is somewhat weak. This is compensated for though by a giant sword you can use for melee attacks. Heavy gives you a much more powerful machine gun, and a mortar launcher for your secondary. Snipe gives you a sniper rifle and a pistol. Support actually ends up being one of the most useful classes with it's high powered shot gun for close range attacks, and the ability to heal damaged teammates.
Ok, so how do you play this game? Each team has a base at either end of the map, and there are several spawn points that can be captured in between. Capturing spawn points and killing enemy team members does damage to the enemies base reactor. You can also attack the enemy's base reactor directly, if you can get close enough without getting owned. Around the map you'll also find equipment that can help you out, like heath regenerators, wires that pull you up to higher places, lauch pads to shoot yourself across the map, turrets you can operated, and even large armed vehicles that can carry several teammates. Teamwork is absolutely essential to dominate the map. You win the match by destroying the enemy's base, or the match ends in a draw if neither base is destroyed. It all plays a bit like Armored Core meets Tribes with some Battlefield thrown in, and it's every bit as fun and more once you get the hang of the controls.
There is no voice chat in Border Break, so you communicate with your teammates via commands inputted on the arcade unit's HD touch screen. Opening the chat dialog gives you a list of common phases to use like "Good job!", "I'm sorry" , or "Defend our base!". But the touch screen also plays a fundamental role in how the game is played. So much so that it may be impossible for the experience to be the same if it ever were ported to a home console. For example, when firing mortars, you can mark specifically where you want to attack by touching the mini map on the screen. You can mark a specific target as well and advise your team to attack it with you, or mark yourself if you need healing. All of the mech customization and options are handled via touch screen inputs as well, and gives you more of a feel of being in a high tech cockpit than playing a game.
There are also regularly scheduled events where you can compete to earn Event Points (EP) which you can trade for exclusive items in the shop. Unfortunately while playing in this mode you do not earn any experience points towards leveling up and unlocking new weapons and parts, so you have to make a choice on what you want to go for. If you don't earn enough EP to purchase something from the shop before the event finishes, then you've just wasted a bunch of time and money playing that mode with little to show for it.
To play Border Break you have to purchase GP. 1 GP is equal to 1 second of play time. For a 100 yen coin you get around 360 GP. If you put in 300-500 yen all at once, you get bonus GP for buying in bulk. For 500 yen, you can play for roughly 20 minutes. As you play, the GP counts down and once you are out you either enter more money, or your game is finished, even if you're in the middle of a match. The frustrating part is that after a short grace period (10-15 seconds) the GP starts counting down even when you are outside a match and trying to customize your mech or your character's avatar, which means you're essentially paying to do any kind of customization. In addition to the GP counting down, it'll cost you GP to buy parts to upgrade with as well. Playing Border Break can get a bit expensive if you want to really get into it, but it's definitely an awesome gaming experience.
With the game being out in Arcades for close to two years now and proving that arcade games can still be exclusive and rake in the cash, it's unlikely to see a console port anytime soon. Until then, it'll remain something you can only experience in an arcade. For now, that's ok with me, but I wish the rest of the world could experience it as well.