(Big thanks to Anthony Aguilar for the tip, information and pics!)
Well as we get close to the next trade show, we are bound to hear about some new games for Western audiences. not long ago I caught on Twitter that Namco had a “secret” game on test but that is all there was to it, no details beyond that.
Then today we received a tip from Anthony Aguiar which just so happened to clear it up for us. I had thought that it could be Mario Kart Arcade DX but I couldn’t have been more wrong – it is a completely original game and the genre this fits into is also non-standard these days (which gets some extra bonus points in my book) as this is a jet fighter combat game by the name of Sonic Storm.
Just in case you missed that, yes I said jet combat. While this doesn’t appear to be Ace Combat 7, it is probably close. The most striking thing about it you may notice off the bat is that the cabinet is the same that Namco uses for their famous “Gundam Pod” games in Japan. The same that use a huge curved screen to give the player a feeling like they are really immersed in the action. I am not aware of this cabinet showing up in the US before but giving it an original title is certainly one way to make it stand out (much more so than it already does). This is the first aerial combat arcade game we’ve seen in a while – aside from Sega’s Afterburner Climax and GlobalVR’s Blazing Angels, this genre has been fairly empty since 2008. Click on the pics for a larger view.
According to Anthony who already got a chance to play it:
“In terms of gameplay, it’s quite similar to Sega’s Afterburner Climax except the world is more open, for lack of a better term. You’re not solely flying forward like Afterburner. However, your weapons are a machine gun and lock-on homing missiles like Afterburner. It also has a massive domed display that covers your entire field of vision. The game actually has a cockpit with a door on the outside that you actually step inside and sit down. In addition to the massive display, they took the experience even further and added fans that blow air in your face to add to the sensation of speed kinda like Arctic Thunder. I don’t recall if the air speed changed based on your in-game speed, though. It seemed like the throttle and flight yoke had force feedback on them, too. I’m not sure if that was an actual force feedback mechanism or they were just shaking around from the powerful sound system inside, though. The game is score based, and you can rack up combos by taking down enemy jets in rapid succession. There are also bonuses for quick kills and shooting down enemies with your machine gun. There’s also a “Clean Kill” bonus but I couldn’t tell what triggered it. At the end, the game gives you a military ranking based on your score, like Lieutenant Commander for example, and comments on your skill. I can’t remember what mine was, but it told me I was “The Demon Lord of the Skies”! The levels in the game are all real world cities. In the test unit, they had Miami as an “easy” level and Tokyo as an intermediate level. It’s a LOT of fun, total adrenaline rush the entire time! I’m really hoping to see the full version somewhere around here when it launches! “
Here is the demo display:
Of course the question now is – when will it be available and for how much? Given the features discussed here, this is certainly fitting into Namco’s recently unveiled strategy of targeting FEC locations with their games. As such I expect it to be something that they are using to fit into the lines of a simulator experience type event machine, like Dark Escape 4D. Hopefully Sonic Storm makes its way to Amusement Expo next month, where I can get some hands-on time with it.