Continuing our IAAPA 2016 coverage, today we are going to focus on two categories of titles found at the show last week: Gun games, Rhythm games. I was going to put Pinball here too but the post was becoming too large 😉
Assorted IAAPA Items
But before that, let’s highlight a new Air Hockey game by Great American. This was the only new-new air hockey design I noticed in my wanderings, a refresh of an old favorite, the Boom-A-Rang. Now with a more modern look and RGB color-changing LEDs. They’ve applied the same to their Laser Hockey table you see behind it. A larger version can be seen here.
For some weird reason, a photo booth took home the IAAPA award for best new arcade product – 2nd year in a row for the company. Not to diminish the work that those companies do for their products, I think photo booths are more vending machines than arcade games. It just doesn’t seem to fit the category but it is an odd grey area since many booths make a production out of the experience now. There were many new photo booths found outside of the coin-op area (most photo booths don’t even bother with coins anymore since too many are required to make a booth operate) but there are enough at this point that they could probably get their own special section. The same will probably be true for VR/AR by this time next year.
The Walking Dead (Play Mechanix/Raw Thrills)
The highest profile gun title to make an appearance was AMC’s The Walking Dead. We saw a preview of it before the show through the official game trailer but getting hands-on time with a game, particularly arcade titles, is always more informative.
The crossbow controllers work just as well as any other mounted gun but they certainly look nicer and fit perfectly with the theme. The reload feature is very easy to use as well, since there is no pushback from that lever.
Since I’ve yet to watch the TV show that this is based on, I look at it purely from a zombie shooter game point of view. I don’t get the references but you don’t need to when it comes to killing zombies. The game plays differently from other Play Mechanix games (Aliens Extermination & Armageddon; Big Buck; Terminator Salvation) and I think this is a good thing. It also is not trying to be the House of the Dead. There is a storyline and character interaction but the game is pushing for you to escape the zombie hordes while saving people instead of investigating the source. There are four chapters – no boss battles that I saw but I didn’t get a chance to play through the whole game.
There are three things that help this stand out on the software end – frequent use of bullet time events; saving people events and numerous uses of melee weapons.
On the first, this is used to help you take more accurate shots. Since your primary weapon is a crossbow, this is welcome. Zombies only die with headshots so that’s where this also helps. The bullet time is also occasionally used to highlight a dramatic moment, such as a character throwing a hatchet into a zombie’s head. There’s nothing about the game having performance issues, which some online uninformed whiners who never heard of the “bullet time” effect have decided the game suffers from.
Saving people is tied to the bullet time – you are given a few seconds to quickly get in two or four headshots on zombies attacking people. Nail it and get a health bonus; fail and lose health.
Then there are the other weapons – explosive arrows, fire arrows, propane tanks, knives, hatchets, crowbars, nail guns, hammers and probably more that I didn’t see. I assume that the TV show uses a “use everything to survive” kind of approach and if that’s the case, they have it here. From a game perspective, I really like that about the game as it livens up the pace from just sniping the undead the whole time.
It’s a solid game that I think will do well – I’m trying to get more info on it especially on the technical level but I can say that anyone who thinks that the game looks old or dated doesn’t know what they are talking about. This looks great in person (1080p resolution; 60 fps; HDR lighting; many active characters w/ no choking slowdown). The dynamic ambient lighting system is a nice touch and the cabinet looks great.
Target Bravo: Operation GHOST
When Sega announced that this was headed to IAAPA, it was a surprise. Operation GHOST was released in 2011 but hasn’t been sold new on the market for a couple of years at least. They only thing we were sure about at first however was the new cabinet – here’s a render that was released of that cabinet:
Other information was held until IAAPA, where Sega showed the game off with two cabinets. As we found out, this is basically the same idea as Ghost Squad Evolution – add more to the core game so while not a full blown sequel, there’s enough to bring some players back.
Regarding those additions/changes, you are presented with two choices at the beginning: Mission and Wave. The Mission is the story mode that you can now pick your level on; Wave mode is brand new where you pick from different short missions that present you with a wave of enemies in a particular situation (kill so many of the wave before the timer runs out). This latter mode is interesting and fun, especially if you have someone to compete against.
One oddity for the cabinet is that it uses the same guns as the upright version – typically environmental cabinets have fixed guns. It takes a little getting used to but I didn’t hear any complaints. Fortunately the LED targeting/radar system in the marquee bezel is still present as well.
The biggest expectation I had was that the graphics would get an upgrade too. Operation GHOST is a fine game that scratches the “Call of Duty” itch for the arcade market but graphically it is well behind the curve. Target Bravo looks exactly the same as Operation GHOST, which also wasn’t the most cutting edge from that stand point. I didn’t hear when this begins shipping but here’s hoping that at the very least a change can be made to the hardware/software to maintain 60 fps but increase that resolution to something like 1080p.
But again, it’s still a fun game so perhaps going the environmental cabinet route (which most games are these days) is the way to go.
Let’s Go Island Dream Edition
Along the lines of Target Bravo, Sega has brought back Let’s Go Island but this one really is just a cabinet upgrade, I was told no additions to the software have been made. The cabinet design is a re-skin of Dream Raiders that was released back in 2012 to compete with the likes of the Typhoon motion theaters.
Beyond the traditional light-gun game, there has been a sudden uptick in larger format video shooting galleries. UNIS had one called Outback Hunter on site behind the Omni Arena VR. I thought I had snapped a short video of this one but I’m not finding it on my devices so we’ll have to rely on the photo provided to the press:
There was another Chinese company there whose sole focus was on these large scale video shooting galleries but I can’t recall their name. They had three separate games setup, one was large and handled 8 players; the other two were for 4 players each. I did snap video of this one but it’s lacking in quality in such a way that I’d rather just delete it than share it. Instead, here are a few pics:
Yes those are chainguns and the barrels spun around. There were two standing up, and a pair you could sit down at. One of them as I recall had large bullets mounted to the side but they didn’t move. The game itself looked forgettable with 2004-era chunky 3D graphics and a choppy frame rate.
The game next to that used rifles and had an alien invasion theme of “Mars Sortie”.
Pump It Up Prime 2 (Andamiro)
The latest version of the popular Pump It Up series debuted at IAAPA and fans were eager to check it out. I saw it setup but shut off for the first couple of days I was around but come opening day for the show, several PIU fans were on hand to stream gameplay to the community. One of those included long time AH contributor Phil Arrington.
The latest version of Pump adds in many new songs, a card system, a camera, new modes for the fans and fortunately, a tutorial for newcomers. The latter is good for operators who may not have a dedicated player base at their location to keep earnings strong.
World’s Fastest Drummer (Unit-E Technologies)
One surprise that came along via email before the show was that World’s Fastest Drummer was returning to the arcade scene. This had first teased us way back in 2010 but with Unit-E Technologies (of NEON FM fame) taking over, the new package is much nicer and definitely ready for locations.
According to Unit-E, there are a few changes left to make to it including the addition of a camera to integrate into the online leaderboards. They may also add more “tracks” to the software (the game had a single race car style theme to the level as you see above). It does have tickets as an option but for locations like mine that don’t care about tickets, I think the competitive nature of it and the online features will draw attention by themselves. This is slated for a release Q1 2017.
Also as that video shows, the “Andamiro” version of the NEON FM cabinet has now replaced the original cabinet of the game. With a sharper and more colorful design, perhaps that means more locations will be grabbing one in the near future.
For whatever reason, I’m finding myself busier with this IAAPA than any previous. So apologies for the slower than usual updates. That said, I might be doing a podcast about this tomorrow 😛 We’ve got more to come so keep staying tuned! Perhaps I’ll throw reminders to particular posts after Thanksgiving, just in case.
Next post will cover Pinball, Videmption and Redemption then after that, VR/AR. Thanks for reading!