Impressions from Amusement Expo 2011

arcadehero March 2, 2011 1

Amusement Expo 2011 started yesterday in Las Vegas and I was there for the day to take a look around and see what was new. If you are new to modern arcade gaming, there are usually two conventions held each year, Amusement Expo in March and IAAPA in November. Amusement Expo wasn’t a large show so I’ll be able to keep most everything to this one post, videos will be coming later in the day. Also with it being small, if you follow my Twitter feed then you probably noticed that there wasn’t much in the way of news – the rest I didn’t get to in the feed I’ll get to here. Click to keep reading on!

I had thought that the event would be underway at 10AM like any other show, but I was quite mistaken and ended up having to wait until 1PM for it to start. I was able to check out what was going on over at the International Pizza Expo for a little bit and that was interesting – it was much larger than Amusement Expo and had a lot of energy to be found throughout the show. They had pizza making competitions, live musicians and DJs manning some booths, plenty of samples from everything to cheeses, breads, meats, olive oil, wines, buffalo wings, pizza slices and more. There was a small booth showing a couple of arcade games, Namco had a pair Dead Heat machines and Sega had a few redemption items including Super Monkey Ball Ticket Blitz.

But once Amusement Expo finally got underway, there were a few things to see out of the gate. Let’s cover the newest items first, but before that I need to mention that for some reason the volume on many games there was very low. My ears aren’t complaining about that as there are shows where some games are set much too high for comfort but I came across several games where the volume was so low that I could barely hear the game at all.

UPDATE: Videos have been added to a new post, click here!

GlobalVR

You weren’t able to see it from the waiting area but after wandering in a little bit you caught a glimpse of one of the few really new products at the show that no one knew about beforehand – a light-gun shooter at the GlobalVR booth called Frightmareland. While killing zombines is a popular meme in games, you also can’t go wrong with killer clowns and this game has plenty of that.  In some ways it reminds me of Midway’s CarnEvil but with more of a Japanese take on the genre. This is actually the US version of Taito’s Haunted Museum II (the first one is known as Panic Museum in the US), but as Panic Museum is being handled in the US by a different company, there was a name change to avoid confusion over the products. While I didn’t care a whole lot for Panic Museum, I did find more to enjoy with the sequel here. Maybe it has to do with the clowns and carnival theme, but they have changed a few other aspects of the game too. You use machine guns now with limited ammo and you are supposed to rescue as many hostages as possible. The game actually tracks those hostages you save. There are many hidden items and ammo pickups to find and it also has a few “mini-games” you occasionally come across as you play, which generally involves changing you gun to a single shot laser sighted weapon to take some clowns. There is some cheesy voice acting and the graphics are quite colorful, which can help make up for the lack of geometric detail in the 3D objects throughout the game. As you can see in the flyer above, there are two cabinet configurations to pick from, using the same cabinet design as Aliens: Extermination. The deluxe version can have any TV fitted to it that the operator wishes. I did find the game to be rather easy but I did not ask about what the difficulty settings were. Stay tuned for a video of this game – GlobalVR says it’s shipping now so you could find one soon at a venue near you.

GVR also had a couple of NASCAR Team Racing Standard machines, and their King of the Big Wheel redemption game.

Pentavision Global

Pentavision also had a surprise at their booth – after a row of Mr. Vaccum crane machines I came across a new standard version of DJ Max Technika 2. This sports a smaller cabinet than the other version, lacking the second screen built-into the unit (although an operator can connect a second screen to it if they wish). It also was running the latest software, which includes built-in Twitter features. As Eddie at BemaniStyle.com told me, this game really can’t be experienced properly if the operator doesn’t connect it to the internet as those stats tracking features and unlockables are essential to the overall experience. The Standard cabinet features attractive lighting and should also sport an attractive price when it’s released soon – they are aiming for $2000-$3000 below the deluxe version so between that and the smaller size, it will be great to see a music game made for smaller venues for a change.

Adrenaline Amusements

(Stock photo – video coming soon)

We did hear about Fruit Ninja FX prior to the show but this is the first time this cabinet configuration has been seen at an industry event. While I had wondered if they would be showing off some of the other games that have been discussed for it (such as Age of Zombies or the Chop Chop sports games), they decided to focus purely on Fruit Ninja, which was probably a good move since that is a best seller on the iPhone. While I haven’t played the iPhone version I have to imagine that anyone with that in their pocket would gladly give the FX version a try since it’s on a great 46″ multi-touch screen that is a bit easier for 2 players to enjoy. The great thing about this game is that A) It’s different than anything else in the video market B) it’s very intuitive so anyone can approach it and play without a problem. This is already shipping in 1, 2 or 3 screen configurations, I also will have a video of this up on Youtube shortly.

I would like to note that Adrenaline is looking for more developers to create TouchFX content and it does not have to be based on an iPhone game. Hopefully we will see some other neat ideas made for this platform very soon.

Sega

As Sega revealed prior to the show, they had a few new products to show – first was Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Arcade as well as the new up-right standard version of Let’s Go Island. To get to the Sonic racer, this is such a cool looking cabinet, I really like the design. I hadn’t played the console version before and it’s a fun game that follows the “Mario Kart formula” where you have power-ups and speed boosts. It also has a variety of Sega characters, tracks and with the three game modes there is plenty to come back to. It’s obviously being targeted at a younger demographic, who won’t complain that they didn’t add a little content not found in the console version or the 30 fps rate. I guess I just feel that they could have taken the opportunity to improve upon the console version in those aspects which would please fans of the other versions of the game. That said, I can’t imagine playing this with a gamepad and it being as fun and the drift pedal is a nice touch that turns out to be very useful on a number of tracks. I felt a little feedback from the subwoofer in the seat but this was one game that they had the volume very low on so I don’t think I got the full experience out of this game. It will be available this month in case anyone is wondering.

I also warmed up to Let’s Go Island this time around, they didn’t change anything from IAAPA that I could see but after giving it some more time I’ve changed my tune about it. It’s nice that they have three cabinet configurations to pick from so a variety of locations can pick what best suits them.

They also had Giant Tetris, the quirky Golden Gun, a pair of GRID standards, a HUMMER MDX, a Let’s Kinect Game Gate unit and several redemption games on hand to play.

Namco

The latest version of Robotic Amusements/Namco’s Robo Restle was on-display, now sporting a robotic announcer to dish out some commentary during a battle. The game is a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the completed version of the game later this year.

Other than that the only new product I noticed at the Namco booth was a new redemption piece called Frog Frenzy where you pull on frog tongues to win tickets. They also had Dead Heat, Deadstorm Pirates, Pac-Man Battle Royale and Pac-Man’s Arcade Party there.

Raw Thrills/ Konami/Betson

The only new piece I saw here was the 42″ deluxe version of Fast and Furious Super Cars, which looks nice on that large screen. The colors were quite vibrant on that screen, which is good for attracting attention. Other than that there wasn’t anything new to talk about – they had Super Bikes 2, a couple of Terminator’s, a couple of Big Buck World cabs and Konami’s DDRX2  was stuffed at the back of the booth.

Incredible Technologies


I didn’t see any new video games at the booth here but they did have some new video slots on hand. I didn’t get a picture of that though.

IRRobot/Brady Distributing

Speaking of robotics, Robo Restle wasn’t the only game at the show – Korean based IRRobot brought back their Marubot Soccer game but with a new name and some new features. Now called Break Away Robot Soccer, it comes in two versions, a 2 player and 4 player cabinet. The robots are powered by the floor and they have a cool feature built-in to each one – an LED face that changes according to what happens in the game. they normally move around with a smiley face but if the opposing team scores the face changes to mad or sad. The controls haven’t changed though where it takes some getting used to as the turning is rather sensitive.

Andamiro

I snagged a picture of Andamiro’s sleek new GX cabinet whcih was on display, running the latest Fiesta 2011 software. They also had a Pump It Up Jump and Fiesta 2011 running in the larger TX cab.

Coast To Coast Entertainment

While most of the products found on this booth are redemption in nature, they brought along Friction in the Time Crisis II cabinet. This game is already shipping as a kit, so you could very well find it at a location near you right now.


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