First unveiled in February 2010, we got the first hands-on look for it the next month at the Amusement Expo, it made a big splash at e3 2010 and finally the game was found at IAAPA 2010 in Florida. That game is Namco’s Pac-Man Battle Royale, released for public venues to get their hands on in January this year. It’s only now that am I getting my hands on one, but better late than never. Read on for my sort-of-unboxing of the unit as it arrived today at my arcade.
Why did I decide to get my hands on this game? There were a number of things behind it really. I already had a chance to play it a few times previously so I knew what to expect. It’s unique as far as new games go and I like that. My arcade also has been needing something a little more family friendly that is not a redemption game as for the most part we’ve been a “testosterone charged” arcade with several light-gun and fighting games rounding out a good chunk of my collection. We get a lot of kids that wander down this way due to a Kids Zone placed a few doors down and while often they don’t buy anything, it does mean we do get some families that come in on occasion and not just the hardcore players. It’s a Pac-Man game that’s arcade exclusive which is not just appealing due to name recognition but it’s important as well, as I learned harshly from Street Fighter IV. As joystick games go, a strong brand name attached to the game goes a long way in drawing in people to play – as long as it’s arcade exclusive. I also have been very impressed with Namco’s efforts to market the game via Facebook, iPhone and iPad apps. They don’t diminish player desire to go out and play the game but they enhance it while assisting the player to find a local venue to check it out. Honestly, every arcade game should have some sort of social media location finder attached to it now, which is more important than ever considering how the economy hasn’t been seeing decent growth for the past few years and it doesn’t appear to be improving by any means. And last but not least it’s a great price for a brand new arcade title which means it’s easier to buy in the first place and it shouldn’t take long to pay itself off. I also happen to be the only location in my state (Utah) to have the game and while I’m sure that will change sometime in the future, it’s nice for now. So if you happen to find yourself in the Salt Lake City area, drop by the Valley Fair Mall and look for The Game Grid Arcade. If not, you can still take a look for a machine near you using Namco’s PacMan Battle Royale Location Finder. From the map (which doesn’t have 100% of the machines although they are trying to get them all there), there are a growing number of locations out there to get one.
I have to say sort-of-unboxing as when I got it, there was no box it came in (full machines rarely do, unless you’re talking a pinball machine). I actually got a chance to check it out the day it arrived at Mountain Coin, a local distributor I purchased it from and it was there in the back with a plastic cover over it. I’m not sure how it arrived to MC themselves. We pulled that off and it still lacked the marquee bar that attaches to the back. We turned it on and after a brief moment it was ready to go, already set at 50¢ a play (I use tokens but they are the same price as quarters). There was a small issue with two of the start buttons on the right side of the unit not responding but that was an easy fix as the harness for them had become partially loose in shipping. No biggie.
The first thing to stand out for me from having seen this game at the shows was the attract sound volume. The default is 10 but it was quite loud, with plenty of bass to satisfy. We turned it down to 3 and it still was plenty loud – I guess the overall show noise always had drowned that out for me. There are two internal cabinet speakers that don’t look like much but they certainly do a great job.
I had to wait a couple of days after that to get the machine delivered to my location but the time has passed and here it is. I set it up in the center of the first room (my center is split into four rooms total, two of them for arcades, one for PCs and arcades and the last for a storage room/office) where previously I had Atari’s Warlords placed. I guess it’s fitting to have Pac-Man assume this spot since Warlords is a real blast for four players, and it’s a classic game too. It was only recently that it started actually making a little money every week as more people have discovered it but finding a good spot for it now when my place is already a bit cramped is something I am still trying to figure out. In reality, I need to find a bigger place to keep expanding like this.
(Click on any image below to enlarge)
The manual can be found stuffed into the coin box in the lower part of the cabinet. I was surprised by how much information is packed into it, you would think that a simple game like PMBR wouldn’t need a juicy manual but I do like my manuals to be thorough (another recent game I purchased a few months ago, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition is one of the worst manuals I have come across, lacking details on plenty of stuff).
Here’s the inside of the coin door with switches for your test options.
And the inside of the PCB bay where the hardware is. Namco tells me that the mainboard is called System 157 and it’s the same hardware that runs their Pac-Man’s Arcade Party 30th Anniversary Edition games.I don’t know the exact specs for it but it gets the job done for what PMBR needs quite nicely.
The marquee bar attaches to the back of the unit and you can set the marquee itself parallel or perpendicular to the screen below. Because of how this is positioned, I kept it parallel as it came. It took three of us to install it although I imagine you can do it with two. The only complicated bit is getting the bottom part of the pipe in just right as you also have to thread a wire through to connect the marquee box lighting to the unit, which is where a third person came in handy. It’s just a bit awkward since the marquee box is where most of the weight is so someone had to hold that, another worked the bar and then another for threading the wires. The blue film on top of it was just for scratch protection during shipping. Also as the first sort of shows below, the marquee bar came wrapped in paper packing to keep it safe from scratches and such. When lit up, the marquee brought the ambient lighting up a couple of notches, we’ve been a pretty dark arcade but this marquee alone has made it brighter. I do plan on adding some extra track lighting sometime soon so we are more appealing, I just don’t want it too bright to start affecting play with glare.
There aren’t a ton of options to go through but that’s because the game itself it’s needlessly complicated. The default is 5 rounds to play, normal speed, 50¢ per person to play. Those can each be adjusted and I will tinker around with them a little to see what works best. You can actually go up to 9 rounds of play, which could be great for four player matches but I’ll leave it at five for now.
I also have gone ahead and informed Namco America about my purchase so they can add the machine to their national arcade finder on Facebook. This is such a great idea that is a huge plus to arcade operators out there. It certainly helps consumers find their favorite game and is advertising for locations too. I’m apparently the first and for the moment only place in Utah that has a Pac-Man Battle Royale. There was supposed to be a flyer inside of the game telling me how to go about getting the game registered for FB but I didn’t find it and the guys at Mountain Coin said they didn’t see anything like that.
One thing I am quite interested in seeing unfold here is how PMBR competes in interest and earnings against some other machines I have. I’m not the largest location with the best spot in the mall but I’ve been striving to obtain some of the newest games out there. This will be up against a Terminator Salvation Deluxe, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (which is currently out on repair in Japan. Yeah, the hardware for it sucks), Blazing Angels, House of the Dead 4 Super Deluxe, Friction, Big Buck Safari, and Tokyo Drift. Until the console version of SSFIV came out, that was my number one game and then of course it broke down a month later. I’m not sure how it will recover when I finally get it back. Otherwise Terminator has been towering over everything else pretty consistently, despite costing more to play than other games I have. Tokyo Drift is usually right behind.
So there you have it! I’ll make a video of it before too long. The only thing I could complain about is that the attract mode is so short that the very catchy song that plays during that period has already become stuck in my head. I know the easy way to fix that though is to turn the attract music off but I’m not sure if I want to – not yet anyways. It hasn’t been a terribly busy Friday afternoon so far but Pac-Man has pulled in a couple of people to it already, what should be telling is how it does on our busiest days of Saturday and Sunday. To help a few people out in understanding that this isn’t the typical Pac-Man game, I placed the flyer on the marquee pole.
Otherwise this game has a lot going for it – great online marketing, an excellent price, the attraction of the most recognizable arcade character ever in an entirely new setting that for now is arcade exclusive. Here’s hoping that Namco keeps it that way for a nice, long time as it’s not like there aren’t plenty of unique renditions of him available just for consoles.
Also for anyone interested in purchasing one, one of our sponsors has the game available, BMI Gaming, which you can check out here.