JAEPO 2019: The Exa-Arcadia Thread

arcadehero January 24, 2019 7
JAEPO 2019: The Exa-Arcadia Thread

The Japanese Amusement Expo (JAEPO) has begun, and with it the world gets to see what Japanese game makers are cooking up for locations there. Most of the time, announcements and games are not officially destined for a Western release – this is a trade show primarily aimed at Japanese arcade operators. But things are changing this year with Exa-Arcadia, and in more ways than one.

Exa-Arcadia – A Quick Refresher

Before we get to the news, let’s get into what the Exa-Arcadia platform is, in case this is the first time you are hearing about it.

The short version is that this is like a modern Neo Geo MVS. Using modern PC-based hardware (“comparable in performance to a PS4 Pro”), the system can be installed into a JAMMA or JVS game cabinet and support up to 4 games at a time that are provided in small cartridges. While the system can connect to the internet, online connectivity is not required. This means that even collectors can get in on the action.

Exa-Arcadia Strania EX Edition

The Strania EX Edition of the Exa-Arcadia system. The red/blue cartridges are the games than can be switched out.

The reasons why this system has come into being and who is behind it require a bit more detail, so if you’re interested in that story, click here for an interview I did in July of last year with Exa-Arcadia CEO Eric “ShouTime” Chung.

Exa-Arcadia made it’s debut at JAEPO 2018, showcasing Tanoshimasu’s Aka & Blue Type-R. Soon after that announcement, additional games and developers were showcased as throwing their support to the EXA. From developers like G.Rev & Seibu Kaihatsu, to several other games including Super Hydorah AC, Infinos EXA, Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ, Strania EX, Nippon Marathon Turbo Hyper Running and more.

While much of the focus on this platform has been on the Japanese market, it needs to be stressed that this intends on receiving worldwide support – North & South America, Europe, Asia – anywhere interested. Games that exist on home platforms must also offer arcade/EXA exclusive content, so as to differentiate themselves from the home release.

Comparison in size between an EXA board, NAOMI cart and STV cartridge.

JAEPO 2019 – New Arcade Games For The Whole World

A year later and the Exa board is back at JAEPO, armed to the teeth with new games and additional developer support. Announcements are coming through a video stream, where we can expect about 20 new titles to grace the system. CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES – I will also send out an alert on social media as to when they are complete; I’ll also probably do a vlog to summarize and discuss everything we’ll have heard about. Latest announcements will be posted at the top, so scroll down for older news.

For the previously recorded livestream, you can check it out here on Exa’s Twitch channel

Last batch of announcements – [Jan 27th] – Exa has wrapped up the show and with it we have even more games to discuss.

While few details were provided, the last announcement of the show for JAEPO was that Psikyo’s The Fallen Angels will be returning to arcades on Exa. We don’t know who is developing it, but in case you have never played it, here’s some footage. I imagine that the Exa version will include some of the unreleased content for the game, which included 4 characters that were found in the ROM, but not included in the game itself.

Bayani is a built from scratch 1v1 fighter by Ranida Games. The name of the game itself means “Heroes.” This was first funded on Kickstarter, where it is described as “the first fighting game that is heavily inspired by the Philippines’ rich history, culture, and mythology.” The game will be released this year on PC; not sure what differences the Exa version will enjoy. The official website is here; here’s the trailer:

My Slam & Jam is bringing sports to the platform, also by Ranida Games. Based upon a mobile game from 2015 called Philippine Slam! (the official game of the Philippine Basketball Association). This has a strong NBA Jam vibe to it, and allows the user to customize the faces and team logos; it also features exaggerated slam dunks, no fouls and more. This also fills in another slot on the 4-player titles that will be available for Exa. Check out the official website here (which doesn’t mention the arcade version yet).

Arcade Belgium also posted some screenshots and info on Alien Field 3671 (mentioned below), showing it is a remake of the obscure Alien Field; this tweet also has screenshots of Lightning Knights.

Annoucement #14 – [Jan. 26th; 10:30PM] – One genre that has been sorely lacking in modern arcades is that of the RPG. Lightning Knights by Tikipod is bringing that kind of fun to Exa, The tweet below calls it a mix between Gauntlet & Smash TV, indicating that it is a fast paced game; but we’ll certainly want to see this one in action. It also supports up to 4 players.

Announcements #11, 12 & 13 – [Jan 26th; 9:00PM] – It looks like the livestream isn’t happening tonight, although recording is taking place and announcements are still happening.

First, since this is happening in Japan, Exa-Arcadia has announced two distributors in Japan – Safari Games (which is where Exa has been sharing booth space) and Kyowa Corp.. While pricing and order details will remain with them, the system will begin shipping “before the summer.” We’ll be sure to update you on when and who is carrying it internationally.

In the meantime, more game announcements are headed our way.

Fight of Gods certainly ruffled some feathers when it was released on consoles, and now it will be available in arcades through Exa. This tweet includes a trailer so you can see it in action, This makes it the 3rd 1v1 fighter confirmed for the platform.

Devil Engine has appeared at the booth, with the game developer having been on yesterday’s stream (although he wasn’t at JAEPO). You can click here for the photographic evidence of the game at the booth; here’s the trailer for it that was posted last year:

“But that’s not all!” A new game has been announced by the name of Alienfield 3671. This is designed by Mindware, the same company that has created Cosmic Digger 3671. We’re not sure on any other details for this one beyond this tweet, but I do imagine that it plays like a late 70s/early 80s game would (judging by the UI and how Cosmic Digger works)

Announcement #10 – [Jan 26, 8:15AM] – More shoot ’em up gaming goodness is confirmed for Exa as City Connection (the current IP holders of  Jaelco’s old content) announces Psyvariar Delta. I’ve been told that this is a working title,indicating that it will probably change due to the arcade-exclusive content requirements that Exa has (that is also why so many games have a different name on the platform). Note that in this tweet the marquee wasn’t changed over; the translation does state that it was Psyvariar being played; it also indicates that the JAEPO show director is the one playing it here:

Announcement #9 [Jan 26th, 8AM] – Another developer joins the “Exa Developer Alliance.” RS34. RS34 is comprised of individuals who worked on shoot ’em ups like Radirgy, so you can safely assume that they will be bringing more of that shmup goodness to Exa. If it isn’t apparent by now, the phrase “Shooters are back” as stated in the Exa-Arcdia stream b-roll, Exa is a shmuppers dream (also to the chagrin of Housemarque, who is still clinging to that “arcade is dead!” nonsense).

Announcement #8 [Jan 26th; 7:30AM] – I stayed up until 1AM last night watching the Exa-Arcadia livestream from JAEPO, but I have to work today and needed to try and get a little sleep in 😛 Unfortunately I didn’t get much, so here we are for more updates.

As I left, the latest game to be shown off was Rival Megagun XE by Spacewave Studios. This is an interesting concept; it’s like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo or any other competitive puzzle arcade game from the 90’s, but instead of clearing out blocks or bubbles, you’re blasting enemies on your side of the screen. This will send enemies and sometimes shots over to your opponent in an attempt to wipe them out. The game can be played against the CPU or another person; here’s some footage of a 1p match:

Announcement #7 [Jan 26th; 12:00AM my time] – Sunsoft has unveiled Gimmick! exAct Mix for the Exa-Arcadia. Gimmick! was a platformer on the Famicom/NES that came along later in the NES’s life. Now, it will be an arcade game, which will mean that retro arcades can offer something that is both old & new. All of the graphics have been redesigned in HD for this release, allowing for smoother movement; you can also switch between old and new graphics at the touch of a button.

Announcement #6 [Jan 25th; 1100PM] – For another shooter, Vritra Hexa has been announced. Created by Neotro, this one has a Dragon Spirit vibe to it, but is a side scroller instead of a vertical shmup. Here’s footage from the Exa stream!

Announcement #5 [Jan25th; 930PM] – Next up, Axel City 2, a 1v1 fighter developed on the 2D Fighter Maker engine by Project Atsuki. It features 40 fighters and uses licensing. Announcement tweet below the video; video came from the JAEPO 2019 livestream:

Announcement #4 [Jan 25th; 7:45PM (my time)] – The next game is the Contra-like run’n gun game Blazing Chrome by Joymasher. You can see it on Steam here; the game has not been released yet for PC either. We’ll have to wait to hear what Exa exclusive features there are, but it will support 2p.

Announcement #3 [Jan 25th; 1:50PM] – The Exa Twitter account posted this trailer below that announces another shoot ’em up, Akyrios EXA, for the platform. After a quick search, I’ve not found any indication that this is an existing IP, so it looks original.

Update: This is the new name for what was called Valkyrius EXA, which had been previously announced for the platform. Thanks to everyone who pointed that out.

A second video was then posted that shows more content we’re familiar with, although with more recent footage. For Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ, it is looking smoother than what we saw at CAX:

Game Focus #1 [Jan 25th: 9AM] – While most announcements will be hitting the web later today, with more shoot ’em ups, a Contra-like game, more fighters and so on, let’s take this opportunity to focus on the Exa booth and some of the content found there. Attendees can enjoy titles like Aka & Blue Type-R[check out the official website here], Super Hydorah AC, Valkyrius EXA and the Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ, although new titles will be switched out on certain cabinets as they are announced.

It is also worth highlighting that Tatsujin (Toaplan) has stated at the show that they are working on a “new shooter” for Exa, so no new Truxton yet 😛 But it’s great we’ll see new, original content.

Announcement #2 [Jan 25th: 7AM] – Osaka-based Natsume Atari (zero relation to Atari Inc. or the current Atari SA) also joins the developer “alliance.” In particular, the dev group, Tengo Project, is supporting the Exa; they were responsible for the creation of games like Wild Guns Reloaded and and the upcoming The Ninja Warriors Once Again title (which I hadn’t been aware of until looking into them). If both of those games come to Exa, that means they’ll have arcade-exclusive features/content, but also some name recognition to boot.

Announcement #1 [Jan 24th; 11:20PM] – Tatsujin joins the fray of developers. While a game has not been announced at the moment, this company manages the TOAPLAN catalog, which includes games like Twin Cobra, Snow Bros., Truxton, Knuckle Bash, Zero Wing (All your base are belong to us), FixEight, Batsugun and others. Which one of those (or another Toaplan title) do you hope gets the reboot or sequel treatment? UPDATE: The company has said at the show that they are “working on a new shooter.” We look forward to hearing more about it in the future!

CHECK BACK HERE FOR UPDATES!


7 Comments »

  1. Brian Houck January 25, 2019 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I’ve been reading about exa for quite some time,I’m on board and want one for my arcade no doubt.When can a US operator actually buy one seems to be the question I can’t get answered at this point.Anyone?

  2. arcadehero January 25, 2019 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I will certainly be spreading the news as to the availability once that is unveiled. All I know at the moment is that it is “Q2” this year.

  3. JBRPG January 25, 2019 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    That announcement about Akyrios EXA is renamed from Danmaku Unlimited 3 Valkyrie. I have no idea why that name change has been made.

  4. Dustin Wilcox January 26, 2019 at 5:37 am - Reply

    So far, Gimmick! exAct Mix and Vritros Hexa look really cool. However, I’m a little concerned by one detail. When the player dies, it’s just…Game Over. Do exA games not allow continues, or is that just a feature of the demo software? Only asking because forced 1CCs are a bit antiquated, and I’d assume most players wouldn’t put in the time to learn all these games like that. Also, I’m really hoping Nippon Marathon keeps the story mode in the arcade version. It’s hilarious. Even with some questions still unanswered, It can’t be denied: I AM HYPED!!!

    • arcadehero January 26, 2019 at 7:47 am - Reply

      You’ll notice many games say “Event Mode” on them, which typically enforces a no continue rule, but as JB said, there will be options for that. Lots more to come!

  5. JBRPG January 26, 2019 at 6:39 am - Reply

    What you see are the demos for JAEPO and they’re all work in progress.Some of the demo versions end after 1 credit so the next player can try it out. The developers themselves can decide whether to allow continues in the final product or not can be set by operators. Pretty much most, if not all, of the games pretty much allow continues at any point in the game should they be at final release.

    I am glad that Exa Arcadia is really seizing the opportunity for worldwide marketing with a very accessible and modular motherboard so operators can simply keep the games as long as they want.

  6. JBRPG January 26, 2019 at 6:46 am - Reply

    After examining the closeup on the top banner with the same ship flying in from Danmaku Unlimited 3 Valkyrie, it has been renamed to Akyrios EXA. Maybe that name is for Japan release? I have asked that question and hope for answer from Exa Arcadia soon.

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