With slow news this week I am going to do something a little different here. This post is for laying out some information then seeking your opinions on it, along with a little bit of my own conjecture. I do not like to discuss rumors, but often sources out there will provide some credible evidence as to things that are coming to our industry. We have enough information now on a new project by Bandai Namco Amusements to warrant a discussion, so here we go.
EDIT: I did remove some of the linked sources of information that had been placed here so as to not cause confusion with Namco overseas corporate management. Just know that this information was shared without any violation of ‘breaking street dates’ or other confidentiality. There IS something big coming from Namco, which is the main point.
The main piece of information comes to us today is that Bandai Namco has plans to unveil a new video arcade game at the New York Comic Con which takes place Oct. 9th-12th at the Javits Center in NYC. Now this is an unusual for Namco’s amusement marketing – standard procedure is for games to be unveiled at amusement industry trade shows like IAAPA or Amusement Expo. Sometimes we find out about something early on because of a location test but the “official” channels have preferred the trade show in most cases. For a new arcade game to be announced at a Comic Con, this means it is big. In the original post, this game was mentioned as coming to IAAPA2014 and it would be a “huge” deal. Most likely this means it would be the main focus of Bandai Namco’s IAAPA booth.
There was another tweet out there from earlier this year(which appears to have been removed) stating that what Namco had coming near the end of this year was going to be bigger than “Dark Escape 4D, Mach Storm and Mario Kart”. Now as much as the first two games were talked about, they do not have the marketing caliber that Mario Kart has. So that combined with “huge”, should indicate that it is based upon a property that consumers are familiar with, something licensed or a remake/revival of an old property.
So based upon this scant information, what is my conjecture?
Time Crisis 5 – My #1 guess is that it is going to be the latest installment of Bandai Namco’s very popular Time Crisis series. The reasons being 1) Competing with Mario Kart on the namesake is a tall order. Of the games I hear people ask for at my own arcade, Time Crisis is always a top request. At trade shows, I’ve heard people grilling the Namco reps for a new Time Crisis. The last time we had an official TC arcade game was Time Crisis 4 in 2006. Aside from me needing to resolve that, it is a series that a lot of people love and from Namco’s view, something that is big enough to warrant all of this attention. 2) Through “source” channels I have been hearing that Namco does have some light-gun “games” in development, the first is the already announced Lost Land Adventure but with me hearing the word games, nothing says they can’t have more than one cooking at the same time. 3) Among light-gun games Namco has in their roster, Time Crisis has the name. I doubt that something like Point Blank or even Razing Storm (which was more a sequel to Crisis Zone, a TC spin-off) would warrant this level of upcoming press. They already did a sorta-sequel to Deadstorm Pirates this year with the Special Edition update and that received little attention outside of our circles. I can’t think of any other Bandai Namco game to fit this bill.
While I do think that a Time Crisis would warrant a press event at a Comic Con and a huge thing at IAAPA, it could be something else.
Pokkén Tournament – This was recently announced and for that day, Pokken Tournament became the top trend on Twitter. Pokémon still has a strong following in the US and the fighter idea seems to have been well received by various media outlets. The trailer had mentioned in English that it was coming to Japanese arcades in 2015 so this press event at a Comic Con could be a perfect way of hyping that up for the North American release. Of course most are hopeful that it will make the expected jump to a console like the WiiU but an arcade release with enough time and a reasonable price could make some waves here. Even more so if they decided to give it some arcade exclusive content, but that is usually a pipe dream on my end for what I want to see in arcade fighting games. Either way, a Western release of this game would make news.
Starfox – There is another bit of information from the source that could point to all of this being something to make use of Namco’s dome screen. It refers to a patent that Namco has which can be seen here http://t.co/E6h20H6Ge3
Once again this was certainly referring to Lost Land Adventure however it does say “games” once again and by the context, it seems to indicate that more than Mach Storm and LLA are on the plate.
Starfox comes to mind as it has name recognition, especially where Miyamoto announced at E3 that he and his team were working on a new iteration of the IP for the WiiU. Nintendo and Namco have a very cozy relationship going on right now. We’ve already received Mario Kart Arcade GP DX and Japan is getting the aforementioned Pokkén Tournament. Nintendo has nabbed headlines lately by letting others take their famous IPs in directions they couldn’t (see Hyrule Warriors). That said, given the info above, especially the dome screen games if I was to place a bet on any Nintendo property I could imagine them finally getting Starfox Arcade done. As that link shows, the idea was on the table about 10 years ago although it was canned because of technical issues (apparently the arcade build suffered from a terrible frame rate from what I have been told by a consultant who saw the game in action at the time). If Namco was to do a new arcade version of the game based loosely upon the WiiU title, it could focus on straight-up action with a dome screen. That would certainly turn a lot of heads and be bigger news than something like Starblade. But that is complete guessing so worth a grain of salt, if that.
I would love to say Starblade because it was the never released Starblade 2 that led to the development of the current dome screen tech. While I like that game, I do not think the general populace remembers it at all. Hardcore gamers will remember it and talk about it but the game would need more than the name alone to drive the hype train. It would be an awesome fit for Namco’s dome screen technology so while I think it could still be on the table at some point (maybe as an upgrade kit to aging Mach Storm units when those have a few years on them), I don’t see it fitting the bill for an announcement at a Comic Con event.
Granted, this could still be referring to a gun game. Lost Land Adventure could be the first step in testing the waters for trying the same thing with the bigger name of Time Crisis. TC with a dome screen would definitely turn heads. If that was the case however, I would hope that a standard model (maybe using one of those curved TV screens instead of a full blown dome) would exist to provide a reasonably priced game like this for smaller venues to get their hands on.
Something else? – Sure, this can be the case. I could be totally off on my guesses here, which is why I don’t really like to do posts like of this nature (I’m not trying to become a clickbait site like Buzzfeed). I was thinking of a possible Soulcalibur but Namco already has Pokkén Tournament, Tekken 7 and supposedly Tekken X Street Fighter to deal with so that is a pretty full roster. It’s too early for something big like a Star Wars game, although I hope that someone has the sense to have a new arcade Star Wars game out in time for Star Wars 7.
Either way we will know in a few weeks. What are your thoughts based upon what we know?