There have been many legends in this business, one of which is a Japanese company by the name of Taito. With around 500 arcade machines to their name over the past 45+ years, you might be wondering what they have been up to lately. The answer: “not much”. Their parent company, Square Enix, has been releasing more and more titles under the SE name in recent times, keeping the Taito name alive with a couple of releases in Japan but certainly not at the through-put that we used to see out of the brand. Most recently they are responsible for Groove Coaster 4; they still operate their NESiCAxLIVe download network in Japan but even there the number of releases has been minimal. They also tried their own VR arena idea a little while back but it sounds like that didn’t go anywhere.
Today they sent out a reminder that they are still around with several June location test announcements of a mixed reality shooting game by the name of GunArena. Using the Mixed Reality term seems appropriate – customers take a real (but specially designed GLOCK 18C that can only fire during gameplay) AirSoft BB pistol and use it to fire shots at the “BB bullet proof” 55″ LCD screen. There are a number of mini-games available in location test versions, each of which is about testing the user’s accuracy and timing. These include: two types of target practice (one for single player, the other up to four can take turns), can/bottle blasting, police training range, and 301/501 dartboard games. Users can bring their own AirSoft gun to play but the game is restricted to users 18 and older. This is accomplished by the game requiring a special QR code to play, something that is printed onto a Guest Card that is printed and handed out to the player who agrees to the terms and conditions. I do not know if there is some legal requirement behind that in Japan or if it is just Taito and the location covering themselves in case of trouble.
This reminds me in part of a couple of target shooting simulators we’ve seen in recent times: there was SharpShooter by Coastal Amusements; also Shooting Star by a defunct Korean company called Rassen, the latter also using AirSoft equipment (pistols or rifles) fired at a giant projection screen. Both titles have been memory holed after failing to make a splash on the market but there’s always a possibility that something along these lines will “go viral”, so to speak.
One other tidbit about this worth noting is that Taito isn’t doing this alone – the project also has the name NatsumeAtari attached to it. They have nothing to do with Atari Inc or SA (Atari is a Japanese word after all) and have been known for their work in the home console business for titles like Wild Guns Reloaded and a couple of Godzilla titles. They’ve done pachinko and gambling titles as well so perhaps they felt it was time to expand into the wonderful world of arcades.
It’s hard to say if this is a title that will find its way imported to the States as it sounds like it needs an attendant to manage it. Round1USA has brought some of Taito’s efforts to the US and Electrocoin in the UK has long been a partner for them in Europe – so it is possible. FECs have also been jumping onto the ax throwing bandwagon as of late; or something like this would also work at a place like a gun range. What do you think about GunArena?