UPDATE: Part 2 is now live.
It’s been a little quiet on the site for the past couple of days, which was due to me being out in Las Vegas for the annual Amusement Expo 2014 trade show. For those who didn’t attend IAAPA, it provided a good hands-on opportunity to check out many products that were read about in November but there also were a few new things to check out. My thanks to those who were gracious and accommodating, it was great to meet up with old friends and make a few new ones in the process. While the focus on trade shows on the site here is usually on the new products, trade shows really are a great networking opportunity as well.
I have begun uploading some videos to Youtube from the event but it will likely take a few days to get through everything. In the meantime here is a rundown starting with a video showing of most of the games I saw at the show, which serves as a good visual aid to this post:
(I am working on more complete videos of what is above, this is just what I filmed in much shorter pieces)
Adrenaline Amusements – Had a smaller booth than at IAAPA or EAG but featured their main new videmption products: Jetpack Joyride Arcade, Fruit Ninja FX 2, Skylanders Cloud Patrol and Black Out Ticket Version. Jetpack Joyride’s cabinet stands out pretty well, it giving the mobile game a very different edge. On Fruit Ninja FX2, the figurine aspect allows you to choose the game character, just a little merchandising touch to the concept. They mentioned it was a busy show for them as all of their brochures were snapped up.
Andamiro – Among the video options, the newest item to be found was the two player Hit The Beat drumming rhythm game. At IAAPA this had Spongebob Squarepants licensing but strangely it was entirely missing now and it’s simply Hit The Beat. This uses the mash-up idea of slicing objects like fruit with rhythm and it seemed like adults had plenty of fun giving it a spin, even though it’s more of a kid friendly design. Otherwise the video side was taken up by the Pump It Up games Infinity and Fiesta 2 which have been covered before and Andamiro’s more redemption-centric games.
Bandai Namco – They had Deadstorm Pirates Special Edition as the newest product, with Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, Super Alpine Racer, Mach Storm, Dead Heat Riders, and some of their redemption products like Goal Rush to fill out their booth. The new content on DSP:SE is good and fills out the game better although it has a stronger focus on boss battles than the levels that had previously been a part of the game. Mach Storm is a neat experience although you have to get over a little sea sickness. It’s interesting in that the curved screen causes an immersive effect that is similar in a way to stereoscopic 3D but without the glasses. Its not quite the same feeling or special effect as 3D but it is noticeably different from watching a flat display. The game feels on rails but you do have some movement control. My run at it I did pretty good on a Normal level, nabbing 1st place on the leaderboard and completing the area without needing a continue. Because I’m that good 😉 Mach Storm was released last week along with Super Alpine Racer.
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX is a fun game, it’s Mario Kart Arcade with more options than before. Getting first place does not win you a free game though, so that has remained the same from the previous titles. The combo kart mode is cool and that is what I got some video of to be uploaded soon.
Super Alpine Racer is nice, I had to get accustomed to it a little and it’s been such a long time since I played AR but it is a straight forward game – hit the gates for a boost to make it to the finish line faster. Good simulator game but high price could hold it back – fairly simple with only three tracks. It does have QR code score uploads as well.
Barron Games – A new, final version of the Galaxy Collision which has improved readout displays, some Martian Mania themed games (air hockey, basketball and whack-a-mole) and InJoy Motion’s Allied Tank Attack. This game surprised with the amount of game modes and content – Story Mode you can play through for about 15-20 min then there is a Battle Mode which works even if the game is not linked with another cabinet (you just play against a CPU controlled opponent) and the Survival mode where you have to survive for 5 minutes against increasingly aggressive enemies. The motion on this is good – it uses the cost effective air bladder technology and it does not make you feel sea sick in the slightest. There are some difficulty and time adjustments that could be fine tuned. I will have more information on this one soon as it will be showing up at my arcade by next week.
Baytek – I had mentioned in the preview post that Baytek doesn’t really do video arcades so they had a surprise on hand that I wasn’t expecting – a Battleship videmption game. This follows the go big idea that they used with Connect 4 as the cabinet is huge. It has two screens facing away from each other at an angle and you can play against the computer or another player. Graphically it is very simple – not that Battleship needs a lot of graphics horsepower but it was surprising how simple it was, little color or flare. The flare is done with the cabinet, the marquee does have a cool radar beam effect. It was a short video and I was able to get this uploaded already:
Coast To Coast – Always strong on crane games, they had a single ReRave Plus at the booth to accompany their new crane lines. From what I played, this is a strong followup to the original that adds some changes to scoring (it now has note scaling so there are notes of different size; the smaller it is the more points it is worth) and a “live” announcer that comments on the gameplay (50 combo, combo broken, etc.) along with providing voiceovers for the tutorials that was present previously. This version did not have the Wild difficulty active but there were new songs from what I saw of the selection. It is a 1 player game but it also will be working with the mobile versions in some manner allowing people to compete across platforms.
Coastal Amusements – Temple Run 2 Arcade was on hand which is similar in play to Temple Run but with more characters and obstacles. One issue with it though is that the graphics are pretty poor. I know its coming from a mobile game but on the bigger screen the N64 level graphics (well, minus the fog) are painful to see in a 2014 arcade game. It’s too bad the arcade build didn’t get some better improvements here but it plays smoothly at least. They also had Zeroplus’s Sharpshooter there, which is a shooting accuracy kind of game which also had some CA branding on it. In the video I got of it has Eugene Jarvis giving it a spin.
ICE – I had been hoping to see IGS’ Overtake at their booth but unfortunately it did not make an appearance. Their main focus was on their midway style games like ICE Ball FX, Down The Clown and a couple of others. Harpoon Lagoon, Monopoly and some new crane designs were there as well.
Incredible Technologies – Among their standard setup of games with Golden Tee, Silver Strike and Powerputt, they had a new, unexpected item there, a videmption piece called LoonyTix. It’s essentially a virtual money grabber game (where money is blown around in a chamber) but for tickets. Swipe the screen to nab as many tickets as possible in the time limit. I’m not sure if the cabinet is final as it didn’t appear to be but otherwise the software appeared complete.
Kalkomat – Their booth was similar to that of the Amusement Expo last year but with some redesigned products such as Speedball with a different looking cabinet and their Skate air hockey table redesigned with a different skin that otherwise maintains the unique curved playing surface.
LAI Games – They did have their videmption items, Ghost Town (introduced a couple of years ago) and the newer Pinata game. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to spend time here.
Raw Thrills – Their booth was filled out with a pair of Batman cabs, some Aliens Armageddon, a couple of Barrel of Monkeys then some of their older lines like Big Buck HD, Snocross, Wheel of Fortune, etc. I’ve covered the main games quite a bit already so I didn’t nab video of their booth this time around. In case you missed it, here is the review I uploaded this week before heading out to the show of Aliens Armageddon:
Sega – Main focus was on Transformers Human Alliance which was launched at IAAPA, the final production version of Plants Vs. Zombies The Last Stand, Wahlap’s Storm Racer G and Storm Rider and a few other redemption products. Plants Vs. Zombies features more content/variety than most other videmption games out there, in particular with a variety of levels and power-ups to find. It also has a QR code activated scoreboard. Storm Racer G as a sequel to Storm Racer holds up pretty well, adding a stronger focus on drifting but also adding a camera to the mix. Overall this maintains some Ridge Racer feel to it and I would say it’s a step down or two in technicality from Grid but was surprisingly fun to play whether against the CPU or the opponent.
Stern Pinball – I like seeing some of the Premium models on hand at these shows since those are harder to come across. Stern had Pro and Premium models on board for AC/DC Luci; Mustang and Star Trek and a Metallica model. Unfortunately the trade show jet rumble covered up a lot of the sounds for these so I couldn’t hear any music from the music based models and it didn’t seem like the Star Trek models had the Karl Urban Power Pack installed. Of the units, Star Trek played the best, even the Pro model played nicely although the Vengeance model certainly takes the cake thanks to the more complete LED effects. It also has a neat laser light show that goes off when you get one of the multiball modes and the fire button lights up in the center that allows you to “shoot” the Vengeance starship. There is also a kicker on the left hand lane that can save your ball once a round, nice touch there. Mustang is ok from what I played but I suppose it felt less exciting than Star Trek as ST also has three flippers and you notice that when switching from one game to the next. But Mustang has a cool double ramp feature in the upper left that was a nice idea and these games are heavy on the bright LEDs and associated effects.
UNIS – Their focus was on their videmption products including Pirates Hook 4p, Frost Island, and Fun Fair Bash. They did not have their Crazy Speed 2 video arcade racing game on board which they had at IAAPA. UNIS has plans for launching a lot of product around the end of this year so we will certainly keep an eye on that.
Unit-E – With their first visit to an amusement industry event they had a pair of their new NEON FM rhythm game along for the ride. I wasn’t very good at this one, the button layout takes getting used to since it is different than where the notes are placed on the screen but you just have to memorize that the two buttons on the top are the notes second to the left and second from the right. IOf course if you play in Beginner mode then you only have the three on the bottom to worry about, fortunately this has a lot of difficulty options which can cater the tastes of a varied audience.
As mentioned in previous posts, companies like GlobalVR and Jersey Jack Pinball were not at the show, although Jersey Jack did bring a couple of Wizard of Oz machines to the Nightclub and Bar show which was adjacent to Amusement Expo and The International Pizza Expo. After last years showing, I thought Toccata was going to have a decent booth but if they were there I must have completely overlooked them. Aside from Unit-E, I didn’t catch any other first timers for the video arcade market, no surprises there. There were no pro-simulator, VR or AR systems that I noticed, motion simulators were few, I only noticed TrioTech. Overall it was a good show for me, it was great to meet up with a lot of the people behind the games and I hope it was likewise a good experience for the rest of you that went. Granted if you went to IAAPA then there wasn’t a whole lot of surprises to come across but I know there are a lot of things in the pipeline for later this year and 2015. And if you didn’t get a chance to get there, I hope this rundown has filled you in!
Stay tuned for more videos!