UPDATE: This game is available world-wide now and in addition to the multi-puck feature described below, it also allows players to plays “classic” style with just a single puck if they so choose.
Back at the Japanese trade show, AOU 2012, Namco had a new concept in air hockey to show off called Big Bang Smash. Unfortunately at the time we weren’t able to find out much about it aside from some pictures of the flyers which did indicate that it was going to be much different than any other air hockey concept we had seen previously. I had guessed that we would see this one show up outside of Japan, seeing how popular air hockey is over in the West. Fast forward some months later and my guesses have been confirmed but in a slightly different way than expected.
(Click on the image for a full view)
Namco America has been testing the game seen above in the US for a little while already, rechristened as Pac-Man Smash. It is a four player air hockey game that instead of giving the players one or two pucks to go after, the game has a mechanism on the side that constantly shoots out dozens of mini-pucks during the game. It’s a sort of “multiball” that is applied to air hockey which also uses the advantage of the Pac-Man license, building upon what Namco has done with their recent Pac-Man Battle Royale arcade game. It is always great to see new concepts come along in air hockey, which is still a necessity for arcades to carry. I say that from experience as an air hockey table was one of the best investments I made into my own place when I opened. New ideas for air hockey isn’t a common occurrence although we have seen a few innovations over the past few years such as Sega’s Heat Up Hockey or Barron Game’s Quad Air. It looks like Pac-Man Smash will continue that trend and I imagine that coming across one won’t be too difficult (if the price is right), especially if Namco gives it the same marketing push as they have with Pac-Man Battle Royale.
All has been quiet on this game from February until now where Namco has finally released Big Bang Smash in Japan. In mentioning the release of that, they also went ahead and brought up how Pac-Man Smash has been testing overseas. According to this document released by Namco Japan today which details the Japanese release of Big Bang Smash, they include this about the Pac-Man version: ” [it] is very popular overseas as well, is our location on the response of test was performed in the United States, countries. Will continue to expand the deployment of sequentially.” Where it has been testing exactly we do not know and what that means in terms of a release date isn’t clear but I would venture to guess that we’ll see it before the year is out. We will have to wait on Namco America to see what they will do with it, but I’m fairly confident that like Dark Escape 4D, we will see it at IAAPA 2012 in November.
UPDATE: Namco has released a trailer showing Big Bang Smash in action. So the play should be the same, but with a Pac-Man theme.
Interesting, I hadn’t realised this machine was not yet common – Clacton Pavilion actually had one of these!
It’s not even available yet, just released today in Japan so it looks like you came across the UK loctest!
What was show at GALA??
No idea so far, I have not heard a thing. If they wanted to keep the stuff there under wraps from the public, they have done a great job at it so far.
This game is great! I played a test version at a local arcade about 2 months ago. It’s a awesome concept, and myself as well as the kids loved it.
It vanished about a month later.. they said it had to go back to Japan.
I sure hope that pucks flying off the table won’t be a problem as much as it is with the 4p air hockey at Dave and Buster’s. Would be a pain to go around collecting several at a time.
I just played Pac-Man Smash at the Pop Century resort in Walt Disney World in Florida. I had never seen nor heard of it before. It’s an amazingly fun game, worth the cost they charged to play. The employees at the arcade said it’d only been there two weeks, but had already become a huge money maker.
Played on one in Southend in the UK must have spent over £5 because they are so great and addictive much better than the regular air hockey
Played on one when I visited the UK last year and it was a great experience, I wish I had one at home or close to home.