The dust has settled on IAAPA 2015, the big industry trade show where the latest products and ideas for the US arcade market are shown off in all their glory. Since that is a lot of news that comes out at about the same time, this post is designed to compile the news into one spot so you don’t miss a thing.
Game categories are separated into Video Games, Redemption/Videmption & Mechanical/Simulator/Other. Just click on the tab and go from there.
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With video games always being our primary focus on Arcade Heroes, first here are the new video concepts that are making their way to North American and European venues through the beginning of 2016 or in a few cases, are available now.
Dido Kart 2 AIR (InJoy Motion) – This new version of InJoy’s kart racer features a new software package with a smoother more consistent frame rate and operates on their new “Air” motion technology. Available now.
Galaga Assault Amusement Mode (Raw Thrills/Bandai Namco Amusements) – While this game is primarily being touted as a new video redemption piece, it does have a full fledged “Amusement Mode” that the operator can set so players can enjoy a modern take on the classic Galaga game. That includes Challenging Stages and enemy patterns just like you remember them but on a big 42″ screen and some HD dazzle thrown in for good effect. Available Q1 2016.
Luigi Mansion Arcade – Enjoy the Nintendo 3DS game now on the big screen with this effort by Nintendo, Capcom & Sega. The environmental cabinet blocks outside sounds while the unique vacuum controllers help you suck up some ghosts and coins in the haunted mansion. English version coming Summer 2016.
Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Arcade Edition (Sega)- With more than a long title going for it, participate in various Olympic events as beloved characters from the Mario & Sonic The Hedgehog universes. This game sports a unique control scheme with two large joysticks and a footpad and overall feels like a modern twist on the old Track & Field concept. It will be available in 2-player and 4-player designs starting in January 2016.
MotoGP (Play Mechanix/Raw Thrills) – The first racing game from the Play Mechanix studio is also one of their more ambitious arcade titles, featuring licenses teams, tracks and bikes from the popular MotoGP motorbike racing sport. The cabinet also features a camera for user avatars, a wind blower and free online play so that players in different arcade venues can compete with each other. Available Dec. 2015/January 2016.
NEON FM (Unit-E Technologies) – This hand controlled rhythm game should remind Bemani players of a Konami game or two but this design incorporates some new ideas, newer songs, free online updates and some innovative smartphone integration. Available now in black & whine cabinet models.
Piano Passion (Sheng Hua Technology) – Also hearkening to Bemani games of the past, this game brings the piano/keyboard back into focus for rhythm gaming in a cool looking piano shaped cabinet for one or two players. Available now.
Point Blank X AMUSEMENT MODE (Bandai Namco Amusements) – Point Blank is returning to arcades, using the same style of play that gamers loved about the older versions but now with HD graphics. I did find a video posted by Highway Games that shows the game without the obtrusive reticles showing up, but it is unknown which version of the software that happens to be.
Showdown (Sega Amusements) – Unveiled last year, this high end demolition derby game is now available in the deluxe format for 2 cabinets instead of just 4. That deluxe (or Special Attraction version as Sega deems it) version also has a motion seat. Available now.
Star Wars Battle Pod Flat Screen Edition (Lucasfilm/Bandai Namco Amusements) – Without the dome screen or wind blower, this version of the Star Wars Battle Pod will show up at more locations, particularly movie theaters in time for Episode VII. Software also features a team play scoring system. Available now.
Storm Racer G Deluxe (Wahlap/InJoy Motion/Sega) – The latest version of this Ridge Racer-style game comes in a bigger cabinet and enjoys motion base support. Available now.
Tekken 7 (Bandai Namco Amusements) – One surprise at IAAPA was the latest in the Tekken fighting series. Graphically it is top notch and has that Tekken style play that gamers crave. The guarantee that this will be out on consoles in later 2016 combined with the high price place some doubt over the viability on this one but those with the fanbase and the capital will want to order now.
Time Crisis 5 Standard (Bandai Namco Amusements) – Stop Wild Dog and his terrorist pals in the latest in the popular Time Crisis series. This new cabinet has 42″ screens for a slightly lower price point and can fit easier into more locations. Available now.
World’s Largest Pac-Man & Friends (Raw Thrills/Bandai Namco Amusements) – Sure you’ve played Pac-Man and Galaga often enough but how about on a unique LED screen that’s about 100″ in size? That’s what this game offers, plus a unique “co-op” mode for each title where you can play classic Pac-Man or Galaga with a friend at the same time. Possible that more games will be added to this one, will have to wait and see.
This area is for games whose main purpose in life is to be played for tickets. Videmption titles are ones where they are pretty much a video arcade game with a ticket dispenser on them, although for certain games the software has a strong focus on working more like a short redemption game than a deeper arcade title. As you can tell, the market for videmption has heated up to the point where it feels a little crowded but it is important to keep in mind that there are thousands of locations out there and many prefer redemption over pure video.
Ace Angler (Bandai Namco Amusements) – This new videmption game has been available in Japan for a while now and the play is similar to the many, many fishing games out there that generally come from China. The main difference is this had realistic fishing reel controllers and different hooks you could choose to enhance the game. With two 55″ screens and 6 players, it reportedly has been a top earner. Available now.
Angry Birds Arcade (Play Mechanix / ICE) – Unveiled earlier this year as a Dave & Busters timed exclusive, this unique twist on the familiar Angry Birds concept is now available for other locations to pick up. Launch the Angry Bird ball at the screen to knock down the pig structures.
Balloon Game (Coastal Amusements) Continuing to carve out their niche for videmption gaming, this simple game was showcased in a new large screen cabinet. The game itself has you controlling platforms with nails – push the button to let the balloons through. If a balloon pops, game over. Available now.
Bandit Express (UNIS) – This takes the concepts of a mini-train track ride, a light-gun game, a mechanical shooting gallery game, ticket redmeption and 8-person multiplayer to give us something unique.
Crossy Road Arcade (Adrenaline Amusements) – The popular mobile game and modern twist on the Frogger idea comes to the arcade now sporting a huge 65″ screen, simplified controls and support for simultaneous two players. Available now.
Dolphin Star (IGS/Barron Games) – I was unable to catch this one being played but it is a racing arcade game with dolphins and very cutesy graphics along with a ticket redemption option. Available now.
Fishbowl Frenzy (Team Play) – One of the most popular videmption games from last year was at the show again, in the 4-player linked bonus configuration. Available now.
Frog Around (Coastal Amusements) – Frogs can do more than avoid getting ran over in the road – in this simple game, push the button to attach your frog to the rotating log. The more frogs attached, the more tickets won. Available now.
Funky Gators (Bandai Namco Amusements) – This is a video version of Namco’s older whack-a-mole variation Wacky Gators. Now without the fuss of fixing mechanical parts. Available now.
Galaga Assault (Raw Thrills/Bandai Namco) – While I gave this more attention on the Amusement Mode, the primary focus for the manufacturers is to promote this as a redemption piece to the industry. With a simple play style the redemption mode probably won’t win over classic fans but for new players it offers a colorful shoot ’em up that can be enhanced by the ability to buy up to 12 ships for overwhelming firepower.
Ghostbusters (Play Mechanix / ICE ) – It has been a while since the Ghostbusters had an entry to the arcade market but the same is true for the silver screen. This videmption game features different scenarios to suck up some ghosts and a challenge battle with the Stay Puft Marshmallow man for the jackpot.
Grand Piano Keys (Baytek Games) – First unveiled last year, the game was released this year in a drastically different cabinet. It is a basic rhythm game, hit the colored keys to progress and win tickets along the way of course. Get one key wrong and game over. Available now.
Graveyard Smash (Ocean) – Blast the Halloween themed baddies with your ball launcher in this two player game that has a similar shape and design to other ball launcher games. Nice frame rate in the game though.
Gridiron Blitz (Baytek Games) – This game got a bit of promotion via Dave & Busters commercials earlier this year before it was available in distribution. For those unfamiliar with American Football, it is essentially an obstacle training course that is pretty straightforward to play – run, stop or jump are the only needed actions. The obstacles get more challenging as you progress through the three total levels. Available now.
HopStar (Baytek Games) – Shown last year with a different software build, the concept is the same but now with smoother, flashier graphics. Jump on the tiles as they approach the center of the screen, one foot for a single tile, two feet for the pair. The further you get, the more tickets you win. Available now.
Kiddy Dido (InJoy Motion) – First unveiled last year, this kiddie ride/videmption game was on hand with the latest software build. Drive in a go kart with cute characters collecting musical notes to play a song and win tickets. Available in non-motion and motion versions.
Pink Panther Jewel Heist (Play Mechanix / ICE) – Blending a classic cartoon character with a classic style game can work out well. Collect the coins as you descend the building, avoiding the police, dogs and the laser. While I heard it described as a ‘reverse Doodle Jump’, I can’t but help think of this title released for the Atari 2600 several years ago. PPJH is available now.
Point Blank X (Bandai Namco Amusements) – While this will be thought of first as a video game, Namco has added a ticket redemption option to this for locations that want it.
Polar Igloo (UNIS) – This is a new pegball/sorta-pachinko game with a winter/polar theme and in a much smaller package than some competing ideas. Available now.
Quik Drop (Baytek Games) – This mechanical redemption game has a video component to it but just to explain how to play and tell you how many tickets you won. Otherwise it is a redemption game – you get 50 softballs and you have to get as many into the buckets as you can to win tickets.
Ski Racer (UNIS) – It has a generic name but features arcade-style skiing with boosts, rail grinding, coins, a swivel foot controller and of course it rewards the player with tickets. Available now
Snaky Tickets (Adrenaline Amusements) – A lot of classic arcade/video games concepts are getting a new wind thanks to the videmption trend and here the “Snake” or Nibbler concept gets its chance. Instead of eating dots for points, eat tickets for…tickets. Compete against another player to up the stakes. Available now.
Sonic Dash Extreme (Sega Amusements) – The most famous hedgehog in the universe is back to collecting rings while running along at breakneck speeds. Based on the mobile game, the arcade cabinet sports a 55″ screen, well-placed animated lighting and a unique controller that represents a giant D-pad. An amusement mode is available for locations that might not want to vend tickets. Available now.
Strike Pro Fishing (UNIS) – At first glance this might appear to be a game like Sega’s Bass Pro Fishing as it has a really good graphics package for this kind of game and a unique fishing rod controller that you push forward to cast. When the hook is under water it plays like many other fishing games with a 2D perspective instead of a 3D one. The fishing part of reeling the catch in is fun and I could imagine that this would do fine as a video-only title with the right kind of leaderboard setup.
Tickle Monsters (Incredible Technologies) –
Timberman (Magic Play) – Here is another premise that hasn’t been seen in a while on the arcade scene – a lumberjack cutting down virtual trees. Simply avoid the branches as the tree comes down, jumping to the right or left side to chop. The more you chop, the more tickets you win. Available now.
For those items that don’t snuggle into the other two categories, particularly those which are mechanical amusement games (EM games) or simulators.
Here is a video that covers many “odds ‘n ends”
Motion Theaters – Before I get to the individual items, I am going to cover some general thoughts on the various interactive motion theaters which have become popular but there was one issue all of them had which bugged me – I’ll call it the ‘light-gun disconnect’ until I can think up a better term. To describe what this is, in arcade light-gun games, your reward for shooting a target is instant – you get the points and the target reacts right then so you know it was hit. When you have eight guns pointing at a screen instead of one or two, the path that developers have decided to go with is this: most of the time I had no idea if I was hitting the targets as you could shoot something all you want but it had a canned animation as opposed to a dynamic, reactive one to help you know if you were making hits or not. “Bullet sponges” are known in many games, generally being a boss but when your general fodder enemy is a bullet sponge with 7 other people blasting it, the effect feels strange. When that happens it kind of ruins the “magic” of a simulator.
Each theater system had a different way of helping you track your gun – sometimes via a constant on-screen target reticle, others by a color when you shot. I am probably spoiled by arcade games as well as dynamic damage to objects in high-end PC games but it feels like there should be a better way to manage the shooting chaos that goes on in these multiplayer experiences.
One other pet peeve of these systems are barrel rolls. Just because that’s a Star Fox meme doesn’t mean it should be done in every motion theater out there – since the effect feels out of sync with the actual motion and what your brain is processing, it always feels to me like a cheap gimmick to try and get someone to vomit. Perhaps that’s what the developers want but I loathe it as that feeling is usually what I remember the most from these and it doesn’t make me want to ride it again. Maybe that’s just me.
Onto the other items:
Black Hole Air Hockey (Dynamo) – This was recently featured on the cover of a Replay Magazine but oddly enough the spread on Dynamo barely mentioned this particular game. Poised to be Dynamo’s new star table, this features a unique overhead score bar that has a full color LCD screen on each side and a camera. So it can show animations to the scores but also it shows “instant replays” of when a player scores, which is a nice feature. Top it off with a wind blower to give a little feedback puff at a player when they get scored on and a black-light, the rep said that this was outearning Firestorms on location.
Catch The Light Combo – An affordable alternative to the ‘hit the lit button’ twitch type game that is also compact and has a strong focus on being a competitive game. Can work as redemption, amusement only or even non-coin.
Crimson Wings (Holovis) – I had read about motion theater/dark ride attractions company Holovis before but this was the first time I was able to try out their technology. They featured a new game for their Motion Dome theater which had a motion platform with 12 seats. Using some custom-designed guns, you play as a part of a mining crew on another world where a dragon attacks your boss who also flies around on a smaller dragon. There was an interesting sequence were you did actually mine some crystals in an ice cave, your gun serving as a futuristic “pick”. The gun would tell you what color your shots were on a small LCD screen but I noticed other riders didn’t catch that; then it felt like the targets were off. Having a dome screen made it feel like an interactive planetarium which was a little different but one little ‘con’ from that was you could sometimes see the seams in the fabric if the image was too bright. Finally the motion felt very different from other motion theaters as your feet do not touch the ground. The problem I personally had with this is it exacerbated a vertigo feeling I had when it had to throw some barrel rolls in there. So as I have to say with the other motion theater rides, with the right adjustments to fix the ‘cons’, it could be a great experience.
Galactic Force (UNIS) – UNIS’s first step into the interactive motion theater starts with a custom made sci-fi story that is sort of Avatar meets Dragon Wars. All 8 seats were on top of a single motion base and the guns were mounted to the bar in front of you. Fortunately the screen wasn’t in 3D so no glasses needed, they used a curved screen instead and had the added effects of wind. Using fixed guns that are just like those found on Sega’s Dream Raiders, some adjustments are needed with the calibration and the curved screen since there is an area where your reticle will jump, which causes you to have to adjust mentally to get the shots right. This was an issue on another curved screen theater by TrioTech I’ll get to in a moment. One perk for Galactic Force is that it always shows you were you are aiming with the targeting reticles which makes it easy to adjust without having to go crazy on the trigger. The disadvantage is that the reticles become distracting as they were not translucent and some reticles were giant while others not so much. For the motion, it wasn’t synced properly to the action so that also needed some work and there were several barrel rolls thrown in there I personally could do without.
The oddest thing about this work-in-progress is the length of the experience – about 7 minutes. Perhaps that is an attempt to be different but most interactive movies are about 3 minutes long so as to prevent long lines. Maybe an adjustable movie length would be an innovative way to approach that, so the location could adjust game time based on lines. Otherwise, UNIS is promising a price point at half the cost of other similar motion theaters so if they can sort out the software issues then it will be hard to compete with.
Game of Thrones Pinball (Stern Pinball)- Enjoy playing as one of your favorite houses in the only pinball machine to bring the Game of Thrones TV show to life. Features a cool video mode where you play a sword duel and a neat animated topper with a dragon. Available now in three models:
The Hobbit Pinball (Jersey Jack Pinball) – The latest and near final version of The Hobbit Pinball was on display, giving attendees a change to challenge Smaug the dragon while guiding Bilbo Baggins through his adventure. Available soon
Jet-Ball/Jet-Pong/Jet-Blasteroids – I’ll combine these into one listing since the names all start with J anyways 😛 They use the same tech but in different and interesting ways. The Jet games use jets/puffs of air to move ping pong balls around – except for Jet-Pong which is more their take on the beer pong concept. They are all for quick play but stand out for what they are. Available now.
KISS Pinball (Stern Pinball) – If you love KISS and pinball then this is the perfect combination to rock out to, which includes a sound system to pump out select KISS songs. Also has an optional KISS LED topper to help the game stand out a bit more. Available now in three models.
Lazer Frenzy (Creative Works) – This game has been seen at IAAPA before and has been available for a while now but the company has upgraded the software to have different game styles to drive repeat play.
Maestro (Trio-Tech) – I wasn’t able to try out the new Maestro technology for interactive dark rides that Trio Tech debuted at the show but there was a lot of talk about it in being a step forward in motion gesture technology. Being tied to a Lego IP also doesn’t hurt for some high-profile marketing. Since I can’t speak to how it works in person, here’s the trailer:
Pac-Man Air Hockey (Bandai Namco) – As a cheaper alternative to the Pac-Man Smash table that Namco sold for a while, this table is a little more traditional, featuring Pac-Man art all over it along with Pac-Man arcade sounds. It is a nice looking table and looked like a wider table that could handle 4 players.
Project Hades (Valkyrie, Simuline) – This was at the show again and had long lines so with my shorter time at IAAPA I skipped playing it but it did have a sleek new enclosure structure for the outside. Simuline said that they have another game in the works for it, which really is needed for any of these interactive theaters to gain traction as only a single game is a lot to ask for the cost.
Road Fighters (XD Dark Ride, TrioTech) – Using a sterescopic 3D curved screen for 8+ players, the XD Dark Ride has been around for a little while and has at least five other films available for it. This new feature had a Mad Max-like theme to it as you drive along blasting post-apocalyptic punks for a few minutes. As mentioned you have to compensate for when the reticle gets on the sides by constantly firing to ensure where it is where you should be shooting. It isn’t a problem when you are focused on the center region of the screen. This game also had the disconnect problem I mentioned occur plenty of times but it looked good and the motion was synced well with only . One thing I do like about TrioTech’s games are the offerings of additional films, something that their competitors still have a lot of catching up to do on. Last year I played a Godzilla-like game but they do have several others with more on the way. Here is an older video to show the XD Dark Ride in action:
Here is myself getting a #1 score on the game:
Robot Mission (IRRobot) – I have come across this company in the past where they seem to have had trouble getting one of their products to really break-out into the US market. This time they were showcasing a new game that combines projection mapping with RC robots on the playfield for 2 players. The game needs some work on the frame rate as the ball doesn’t move around smoothly as you can see here – also would be great for some additional games to be featured on this:
World Tour Foosball (Barron Games) – Foosball (or table football as our friends on the other side of the pond call it 😛 ) is what it is but it becomes noteworthy with a few small improvements such as we see with this game – LED lighting that changes, sound, auto loading system and more. Available now.
If I missed anything on accident, let me know and I’ll add it to the lists!