IAAPA 2016 PART 4: Pinball; Videmption

arcadehero November 25, 2016 0
IAAPA 2016 PART 4: Pinball; Videmption

It’s been a week since IAAPA 2016 closed up but there’s more to cover so with this post, let’s check out Pinball and some of the Videmption/Redemption games as seen at the event!

Previous coverage in case you missed it

IAAPA 2016 #1

IAAPA 2016 #2

IAAPA 2016 #3


Dialed In! Pinball (Jersey Jack Pinball)

The latest work by the legendary Pat Lawlor was on hand and was actually one of the first things setup at the show. By not using a license, this one is a little odd to approach at first but you quickly figure it out. A futuristic city is suffering from a number of ‘natural’ disasters (including the occasional alien invasion) so you are working to keep things under control.

Apart from that theme, the game is full of toys (Bob the moving target; the worker woman; three drones with moving propellers; the Quantum Theater, etc) and introduces features that are new for pinball including a camera and smartphone connectivity through NFC. I wasn’t able to get it to do anything with my Blackberry Priv (it saw the tags but that was it). Jack was showing games that worked with phones to be able to interact with the machine such as making the flippers work and a couple of other things.

It’s a fun game that looks sleek and is innovative. Curious to see how it performs on location with every day players.

Stern Pinball

Stern was there with 8 games but it was a little odd. They had the banner touting their latest games, including Batman 66. But it was nowhere to be found. They did have 3 Ghostbusters units including a Premium though which was nice – unfortunately I did not get a chance to try that one as it was always being played when I stopped by. The Premium edition does look very good in person, with the extra toys filling it out nicely. So overall, disappointed that Batman 66 wasn’t there.

Arcooda Video Pinball

As mentioned on the site previously, this Australian manufacturer had a booth to showcase their product line-up. They were a little ways off the beaten path – had Kevin Williams not showed me where they were I would have missed them. Their showcase was their new Video Pinball system, which also serves as a install-your-own-hardware box to play PS3/360 games and more. Aside from that, the system was designed for Pinball Arcade and some other software, the company working on licensing for commercial use. As it was, the Game Wizard hardware is mainly intended for residential use at the moment. They also had the home-use only Taito Arcade History. With an upright design, perhaps that could compete with the likes of the Arcade Legends 3.

Pinball Factory/Zen Studios

This was a last minute surprise that I stumbled across at the last day of the show. You may be familiar with Pinball FX2, a video game available on various modern consoles. They have created many original video pinball tables, some of which use popular themes like Star Wars and Marvel. They are now bringing their software into the home and the arcade space using a full-sized pinball machine cabinet as you see here. (Official website is here for the curious)


Called Pinball FX2 Championship Edition, they had several machines setup – 3 residential models and 4 commercial ones. They also had a couple of models open so you could see the internals – the hardware looked solid, along with several solenoids to give you that force feedback that one likes to feel in a real pinball machine. They also set them up with a drainage system in case a drink is spilt on the game. The software between the two versions does differ – the commercial version only presents the player with nine games to pick from instead of 65 to cut down on the confusion that many multi-game systems present when in a public space. The operator can switch games out and download new ones to keep the game fresh. It also has a user switchable 3D screen, just push a button and throw on some polarized 3D glasses for depth. This also works with the cashless payment system Freedom Pay and has various online features for tournaments. Commercial Beta Testing will begin on this one in Jan/Feb of next year; licensing is also less of an issue since these are original tables designed by Zen. Exceptions might fall for those licenses like Star Wars, Marvel or Walking Dead but that also might be solved with the right licensing agreements behind the scenes.

Also There: Medieval Madness

We’ve seen it before but Chicago Gaming Co. had a few Medieval Madness remakes on hand, including a couple with the color screen upgrade. Still an excellent game.

Not Present: Alien Pinball

I had hoped that Heighway Pinball’s latest title, Alien Pinball, was going to make it but alas, it did not. Oh well again. At the very least, Heighway Pinball did put out a teaser for the game, showing off the Bug Hunt mode:


Redemption is always a big part of any arcade show but as many of you long time readers know, it’s never been my… best subject. As such there were some pieces that I didn’t film or get a chance to play. I guess you have to make the time for certain games 😛 With videmption, that has changed slightly since many arcade games throw the redemption option on as it has become quite the fad. There were a few that I did see and play so let’s check them out in alphabetical order:

Breakout (Coastal Amusements)

The return of the Atari name to the arcade industry is something that I was looking forward to seeing although I am in no way a fan of the present Atari with its current ownership. That said, I can appreciate that someone there remembered their arcade roots. As it is, this is based on the iPad release from a few years ago, now improved by the use of a rotary/spinner controller and 2 player co-op. This does not have an amusement mode to it – it’s ticket redemption only. And for that type of game, it’s a bit longer than your typical 5 second redemption experience. You pick from one of many level designs and win tickets by clearing the bricks out. Power-ups and power-downs are present, making it feel like Arkanoid, which was Breakout with the power-up system anyways 😛

The paddle movement is nice and smooth thanks to the spinner and in the huge cabinet it looks nice. Although when you are that close to the screen, they could bring it down 10″ to 55″ and not really lose anything, from my view.

Crazy Tower / Shooty Skies (Adrenaline)

2-for-1 special here since both games are in the same video. The main title that most people were talking about at the show was the new Crazy Tower, a Stacker-style puzzle game for 1-4 players. When I first saw this on from a distance, it looked convincingly holographic but up close some of that luster was lost as you realized it was using the good ol’ mirror trick. That said, it’s still very cool to see the other player on the other side and to have a “pyramid” screen. This will definitely stop people in their tracks to play and the game is great for some quick ticket fun.

As for Shooty Skies, it’s good to see a shoot ’em up get attention and the current trend of auto-firing shooters makes sense for redemption gaming. But the thing I didn’t like about this one is the use of the 65″ screen (cabinet re-purposed from Flying Tickets and Crossy Road). It’s so large when you are this close that you can’t see everything like you need to in a shooter and they ended up putting enormous score bars on it so your focus is more centered. There was a smaller version of Crossy Road at the Adrenaline booth…I think going full screen on Shooty Skies would work out just fine in that cabinet. Otherwise the game plays fine once you are used to it:

Fly O’Clock (Barron Games)

One ‘trend’ that this new app-to-arcade port is participating in along with Pop The Lock below is the circular screen. Granted they aren’t using a true circular display cut to that shape (the cost would be high then the worry about replacements) but the use of the monitor bezel overlay is clever and it allows for a digital marquee from the other part of the screen. Given that this game is based around a fly jumping around a clock, the round display also makes sense.

This is a simple game where you control a cartoon fly jumping around a clock with electrified hands. You consecutively jump from one of four points on the clock face, accumulating time and collecting tickets in the process. Every fifteen minutes that you build up it launches the Ticket Fiesta where the hands don’t move for a few seconds and you can rack up the ticket score. Overall, it’s a simple game that looks nice and has some character to it; bonus for allowing two players which helps it stand out further from the app.

Lane Master (UNIS)

While I did grab some video of this one, it ended up being horribly out of focus and unusable. Fortunately, UNIS themselves grabbed video of the setup and posted it to Youtube this week.

This is a Mixed Reality bowling game if you want to get technical about it – you throw a real ball along the lane (not unlike a skeeball/alley roller) and the sensors beneath the screen detect the angle and position to convert into the game. You bowl on different themed lanes and the game comes as a pair. It has a colorful design that changes colors on the lane itself but not the rest of the cabinet (which is fortunate – the entire cabinet flashing would be a little too much IMO)

Launch Code (Team Play)

Following up on their wildly popular game Fishbowl Frenzy is the sci-fi alien themed Launch Code. The screen setup is not quite like FF – the former had plastic fishbowls attached to the front of the screen along with a transparent display that the balls fell behind. This one places the targets at the bottom and in front of the screen. By not using a transparent display, the contrast and detail on LC are very crisp by comparison and the pinball-like color display above is also a nice touch. That said, the novelty of the pieces attached to a transparent display still stands out on the FF.


Pop The Lock (Baytek)

Along those lines mentioned above of a circular display and a simple game is the app-to-arcade game Pop The Lock, brought to us by Baytek Games. I would say that this is simpler than Fly O’Clock but in that it does lose the ‘character’ that Fly has. It is in a very flashy and eye-catching cabinet though, so it won’t go unnoticed by any means.

The objective here for this lock themed game is to push the button when the line is within a yellow circle. The line will move faster as you progress and the circles will become smaller, increasing the difficulty. Thus it requires great timing and attention on the part of the player. The build shown only allows for single player; while I can imagine it would work as a two player game by using a different colored line, perhaps that was tested but proved to be confusing. Either way it is a fast game which tends to do well in redemption on location:

Space Invaders Frenzy (Taito / Raw Thrills)

As a recent surprise in finding out that this game was not only under development but that it also was appearing at IAAPA 2016, the return of Space Invaders to the arcade. This has been developed with redemption in mind and while it does have an amusement mode, I was told that amusement plays the same way so it’s not going to be a slightly upgraded SI like Galaga was in Galaga Assault.

The different dynamics for SIF is that this is a single screen light-gun game and attached to an enormous screen at that (12′ I believe). The seat was placed a few feet away from that but it still feels a bit large. They did raise it up though so you can see the bottom without straining. As with World’s Largest Pac-Man, classic arcade games look great on this screen. The re-use of the Jurassic Park gun base is also familiar and easy to use off the bat.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about keeping your eye on your tank so much as they sit on the sides and cannot be hit with enemy shots. The software at the show added the green bases and enemies firing down but that looked purely aesthetic from my observations. The real point here is to mow down the invader hordes before one can reach the bottom. The Frenzy in the title comes from the massive numbers of invaders that will begin to populate the screen after a few waves – it also using an Asteroids mechanic by showing an occasional giant invader that breaks down into smaller ones when hit. A bouncing bomb will show up often to help clear the screen out but it isn’t always the easiest to hit.

Other Redemption

Companies like Benchmark, ICE, and LAI GAmes also had showings of new redemption game concepts. Videmption has taken a bit of attention away from traditional EM redemption games but there are still plenty of ideas to use there.

Benchmark was showing off a game that had appeared at Amusement Expo 2016 called Crazy Claw, a video game claw title. They changed the cabinet but otherwise the game was the same.

At first I thought that ICE didn’t have anything new but they actually did bring a joint project with Dave & Busters called Bean Bag Toss (the D&B version is called Tailgate Toss as AH writer Sara reported on not long ago) where you throw bean bags into the moving targets. Dave & Busters also told me that they developed a new giant Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game but that wasn’t at the show (you can see it in this video though, thanks Jdevy). ICE also had a new piece called Screwball that I will post a GIF of later.

One that was briefly mentioned on the blog not long ago that LAI had on hand was Let’s Bounce. I heard quite a few people talking about it, it’s a cool twist on the beer pong idea but without the cups (which works better for family friendly venues anyways). LAI also had a very flashy basketball game called Hyper Shoot.

It was mentioned at the end of the Pump It Up Prime 2 video but Bandai Namco’s “mystery game” that they touted was a new coin pusher/card vendor called DC Superheroes. This follows along the lines of other popular coin/card games we’ve seen lately like Wizard of Oz and Spongebob Pineapple Express. This one was done in conjunction with Andamiro.

There was probably more but since I spend most of my time looking at video, I probably overlooked it 😛

We’ve got one more post for IAAPA – it depends on a video file I’m fighting with. Whether that works out or not, our final look at IAAPA 2016 will cover teh hype known as VR

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