Kits have long been a cheap, easy way for arcade ops to get a new game in place without breaking the bank (well, unless you are dealing with Capcom’s latest fighters) but they have not been the most common item to come across in recent years. This year quite a few are being made available, so let’s take a look at what has popped up so far:
Fast & Furious SuperCars (Raw Thrills) – This was unveiled at Amusement Expo 2012 last month but the cabinet it was in was professionally done to a level that I didn’t realize it was a kit at first. This does require a bit more butchering of the cabinet than an operator might be used to – it involved removing the top area where the monitor is completely so the operator can place an HD monitor of their own choosing to the mount behind the cabinet. This is the first time we’ve seen this kind of design be professionally pushed and after my own experience with converting some old Crusin’ USA cabinets to Tokyo Drifts (and eventually adding my own HD monitors to it anyways), I’m finding it easy to warm up to the concept.
FrightFearLand (GlobalVR) – GlobalVR & Taito’s latest light gun game also has a kit now that does not require the cabinet to already be a mounted gun game – it comes with its own pair of guns. It can also convert any GlobalVR Paradise Lost or Aliens Extermination game easily but the JAMMA side of it is appealing as well. Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report suggested to me I try converting my Super Deluxe House of the Dead 4 over to it – that would be a fun project although the horror I would have to possibly make out of the control panel to do that might be a bit too much.
UPDATE: Koihime Musou (Pentavision) – I learned from Kevin Williams yesterday that the new 2D fighter that was shown off by Pentavision last month was advertised as being made available in both kit and dedicated forms. It is unknown when they might release either one but when they do, there is another kit to enjoy.
UPDATE: GunLord (NG:Dev.Team) – I also can’t believe I forgot this but if you have an old NeoGeo MVS cabinet and you want to spice it up with a very different game for what the NG usually offered, Gun Lord is available, probably for a limited time. Side scrolling platform game with plenty of shooting to enjoy.
Virtua Tennis 4 (Sega) – This is actually what triggered me to writing this post as I received an email from a company saying that they have Virtua Tennis 4 kits in stock but there had been no announcement from Sega about such a thing. I checked with Sega Amusements USA and they have not released a Virtua Tennis 4 kit at this time. That doesn’t mean who is selling kits couldn’t have pulled it out of an existing machine or got them somewhere else but as far as I know they haven’t released this in Japan at all so where the kits are from, I have no idea. Virtua Tennis 4 was an arcade conversion of the home console game to arcades but there hasn’t been much fanfare for the arcade conversion that I know of so far. The dedicated cabinet was released to the market recently, offering a 4 player sports game to arcades in a sleek, iPhonish kind of cabinet. I think a kit would be a good idea for the many 4 player cabinets out there – I have one in particular where the Capcom board that was in there recently committed suicide and with an LCD monitor it would make a good VT4.
UPDATE: Since I first posted this, a few other sites, like CoinOpExpress has added VT4 kits to their sales. So I guess this is something available in Asia and is trickling out over here.
Kits from last year:
I may as well throw in some reminders about a few other kits that were released last year.
Friction (Coast-To-Coast Entertainment) – This kit came out about a year ago now that let you turn pretty much any CRT cabinet into a brand new gun game that was independently developed by Friction Game Studios. Some have put it into Area 51 type cabinets and there was a trade show model that had been put into a Time Crisis 2 cabinet but I myself picked one up and converted a Tsunami motion cabinet over to the game. I just ditched the seat part (I have the parts for sale if anyone cares!) and just used the monitor section and it wasn’t difficult to do. It has done really well, often beating House of the Dead 4 and often getting pretty close to Terminator Salvation in terms of weekly earnings.
Big Buck World (Raw Thrills) – If you have an older Big Buck Hunter Pro, Safari or Open Season then converting over to World makes perfect sense. They offered it in a couple of formats as well – a disk upgrade or full computer w/ guns and art upgrade. This is something that I still should do on my Safari cabinet although Big Buck HD is right around the corner. Not sure if they will release a kit for the older CRTs though, I doubt that would make much sense as the new game has been tailor made for 1080p screens.
R-Tuned Racing (Sega) – Sega Amusements released a kit for this often overlooked racing title late last year. I’m not 100% sure which cabinets support the conversion but if you need to refresh an old racer, it’s another great alternative that looks really good and plays well (from the little I have played it myself).
Pump It Up Fiesta EX (Andamiro) – If you have an older Andamiro PIU cabinet, they made kits to upgrade your game to the latest version. There is a version with the MK9 I/O box if needed for the older model cabinets.
UPDATE: BlazBlue Continuum Shift II (ArcSys/Taito) – I also spaced on this one, Taito did make available an offline version of ArcSys’s BlazBlue Continuum Shift II last year that could be purchased directly from Taito. I’m not sure if this sold well at all as I have not heard of anyone picking it up but perhaps they still have them available.
Could be kits:
This is just fantasy on my part but I will try to back it up with some logic.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Namco) – nothing has been indicated that a kit might come for TTT2 but depending upon the final price of the dedicated cabinet, this could make good sense. Getting a hold of those Noir cabinets isn’t too difficult these days.
Dirty Drivin’ – There was a trade show once where I saw that someone converted a Hydro Thunder to an H2Overdrive but I didn’t hear about any kit for it being available after that(H2Overdrive was made by same guys who did Dirty Drivin’). I think Dirty Drivin’ would be a great candidate, although I would happily shell out a little extra to get the crank to install on the side of the seat.
Pac-Man Battle Royale or Pac-Man’s Arcade Party (Namco) – This might sound a little crazy but given that someone is trying it with Virtua Tennis 4, maybe it could work for PMBR as well. The latter could be a good way to provide something out there that is legal and can compete with those XX-in-1 kits that are out and about.
Terminator Salvation (Raw Thrills) – I am a little surprised that one isn’t available for TS (there aren’t a lack of cabinet and price options for this already though, which could be why) but I think it would be doable.
HUMMER (Sega) – The game isn’t being made anymore but I liked it and wouldn’t have minded seeing a good kit for it being made available.
RAMBO (Sega) – Also not being made anymore but it would make a great update for my aging House of the Dead 4 since the same guns were used on the first standard version.
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4 (Namco) – It looks like this won’t be getting a release out West but a kit seems like a decent way to upgrade locations that have the older WMMT3 cabs still around. The same could be said of Sega’s Initial D6AA.
Border Break (Sega) – Let’s take a dive off the deep end into Happy Fun Land for a little bit. This hugely popular Japanese arcade title would need to be modified to no longer use a touchscreen and require an English translation but I could think of some arcades out West aside from mine that would be interested in being able to offer this game in some form. While a dedicated version would be much better, that is the case all of the time and kits are better than nothing at all.
Giant Tetris (Sega) – Let’s tread around the Happy Fun Land pool for a little bit longer and consider a game that deserved some more attention but was hurt by too high a price tag. A kit could solve that but the major cost issue with this would be the joysticks, as they or a variation of them would have to be included. But it would be great to convert an old big screen game over too. I could envision converting my HOTD4 to this as well, again just as long as there was some way to get those joysticks installed and that the game would cost quite a bit less than it’s dedicated cousin.
ReRave (Step Evolution/Coast-To-Coast) – Along the same lines of Giant Tetris, there would be a problem on this one since big touchscreen game cabinets are not common whatsoever. Including a 46″ multi-touch screen could pose a big problem as well as expense that could negate the purpose of a kit as it were. But if it were possible, this would be a great way to get a new rhythm game in the arcade for less.
Tank! Tank! Tank! (Namco) – If you used an idea similar to what Raw Thrills has done with their Super Cars unit – making a kit where you add your own monitor – I think you could stretch this one to work. That way you could get the vertical screen in a sitdown game but you would probably loose the great force feedback the dedicated version uses. Still, I would love to have a Tank! Tank! Tank! but I won’t be able to afford one for several years most likely so a kit would be an acceptable alternative.
Dariusburst Another Chronicle (Taito) I know that is out of the question to do as a dual monitor setup as the cabinet is just too different but I suppose they could always do a single screen 2p kit. It wouldn’t be anywhere near the same but it would give more people a chance to get some sort of arcade experience out of the game which will not be found too often in dedicated form in the US or Europe.