A few weeks ago, some big news came along that Taito was testing out a new head-to-head pinball concept by the name of Space Invaders Pinball Jam. Readers were so interested in this story, that despite being published on the last week of 2018, it skyrocketed to become the #1 post published within the 12 month span.
Having the Space Invaders theme certainly helped – that and Taito had been quiet for so long, so fans of the brand were also happy to see them becoming more active again.
Today, we have another concept in the head-to-head pinball/multiball game that is on test in Japan, something that by one source I heard online, was first seen in Taiwan or China before Space Invaders Pinball Jam (SIPJ), and very similar in the concept. I present to you: Super Panic Ball:
Now before commenting on this with a few more photos, I just wanted to go off on a quick tangent that this is not the first time that such a concept has been done. In fact, arcades can order such a blend between pinball & air hockey for their venues right now by the name of I-Hockey. Brazilian manufacturer Imply has been making them for years and I have had one at my own arcade for over a year now (it’s a decent earner, definitely unique). Perhaps I’ll have to make a video of this one soon.
Anyways, back to Super Panic Ball. The basic design is similar to SIPJ, but this one has a much more attractive marquee. It also takes a page from their Big Bang Hockey/Pac-Man Smash air hockey designs, namely the self-loading container on the side that will reload the foosball/ping pong-like balls back onto the playfield. Users attempt to land as many points as they possibly can within the time limit; operators can breathe easier in that you won’t have the balls flying off into the arcade (a problem with most air hockey tables, especially multi-puck games like Pac-Man Smash).
This one appears to lack the star-shaped pop bumpers that SIPJ has, but incorporates a pop-up wall mechanism on each side and some sort of hexagonal & circular target or platform in the center area. The game starts with one ball, then kicks into “Panic Time!” multiball after the wall goes up.
Calling itself a “fighting pinball game,” (I like that term) I think there is a chance that this could appear in the states, although there is no confirmation of such at this time. I say that as the game has English prominently placed on the cabinet in a way that is more “Western” than many of their Japan-focused products, such as in the primary gameplay instructions. It would be easy for the company to rebrand this with Pac-Man, just like they did when Big Bang Hockey was turned into Pac-Man Smash. Or it could be another Batman Vs. Joker product, since the American division has been making use of the DC Comics license as of late. I would also expect a US version to incorporate redemption.
We’ll have to wait and see, if it is destined for the international market, then perhaps we’ll see it or a Westernized version at Amusement Expo in March. I find it interesting this increased interest into EM games – enough that I think I’ll do a vlog about this subject today or tomorrow. What do you think of this based on what we know so far?