Following up from the Day #1 post, I was so busy that I couldn’t do a Day #2 and Day #3 post like I had wanted to do, so I’ll just call this Official IAAPA 2019 Post #2.
With the show now over, I can offer a review on my thoughts and impressions from the event from an overall perspective. Per the preliminary numbers, this was the busiest IAAPA Expo ever, with 42,600 people registered to attend (it is difficult to nail down the exact number of who was actually there). The first two days were incredibly packed, with things calming down for Thursday and Friday.
Before we get too far in, let me say a big thank you to every one I met, who provided info or just chatted. It was an enjoyable show, and I am grateful for all of you who read the site and for your compliments. If I missed you, then hopefully we’ll be able to catch up at the next event (probably Amusement Expo in New Orleans).
Outside of attendees, the thing that impressed me from the show was the product variety. You had your driving & gun games of course, but new takes on some of those, along with rhythm games, retro-inspired games and more. Combining mechanical with the virtual continues on strong, as does the combination of VR onto traditional arcade cabinets.
While Post #1 covered a lot of the games, it wasn’t everything, so let’s get you up-to-speed on the rest. NOTE: I captured a lot of video from the show, but it’s so much, and writing this all down also takes time, that I won’t be able to wait just to cut & render all of the videos together before writing about it. Just stay tuned to the AH YouTube or Bitchute channel for those updates and when it’s finally all done, I’ll figure out the best way to blog about it 😛
Also, this post still does not cover everything, so be sure to check back for more soon or be on the look out on our social feeds for those updates.
I’d be remiss to not mention something that took place throughout the show – the Outnumbered Tournament. To show how their Forge app works, they organized a tournament using said app. Everyone who logged into the game using their app during IAAPA was entered into the tournament (150 people did so over the course of three days), and LAI Games picked the three 1st place winners for each stage. That just so happened to include myself (#1 on Quarantine Zone, a zombie themed level), Angel from Plush Time Wins (#1 on High Noon) and a woman named Stacey (#1 on Deep Space).
Huge congratulations to our winners!!
— LAI Games (@laigames) November 22, 2019
LAI will be offering Tournament Kits as well. They have been made as “a premium promotional tool with everything needed to run your own tournament for Outnumbered and use as an opportunity to drive traffic to your venue and leverage it with additional marketing initiatives of your own.
The kit includes trophies and prizes for winners (which locations can add on to with their own prizes, like a pre-loaded play card for XX amount for 1-3 place for example), rules, best practice on the awards ceremony, etc, along with promotional materials to drive signups in-store and online.”
As our reward, LAI put together a really nice prize package – it was a pleasant surprise, as I really didn’t think I was in the running for anything, I just played each level a few times and worked on improving my score (moving up from an A to an S, which is what probably did the trick). I’ve found the app to work really well. Everything is polished and works seamlessly, and operators can easily organize tournaments just like this to drive play. It’s nice that you can see how well you did on each level at any time, and the app can send you notifications (if you like) as to things you’ve unlocked or won. The XP ladder is another aspect that give you reason to come back, as you need to reach level 5 to unlock a higher difficulty mode; you also have to climb the ladder to unlock new guns and components. Also to correct one thing, Outnumbered should be shipping by January, not immediately.
Series 3 Cards For Injustice Arcade
Raw Thrills was happy to announce the arrival of Series 3 cards at the show, and I had a chance to meet the artist/designer of the cards, Rebecca Smith. This latest round includes bosses, which have the equivalent power of three characters in one for a team. Like the other cards, I’m pretty sure that these will be highly valued; the game was constantly being played throughout the show (even when other games weren’t getting some action on the same booth).
Raw Thrills’ VR Project – King Kong of Skull Island
I’d been hearing rumblings about a secretive VR project over at Raw Thrills for a while now, and while they didn’t bring the actual machine to the show, they did tease it with a banner and a looping trailer video. This looks like it will be a motion ride+VR, using assets from Jurassic Park Arcade (at first I thought it was that Jurassic Park as it showed similar tropical environments and dinosaurs before I noticed the banner). We’ll probably see this one in person at Amusement Expo 2020 in New Orleans. Sorry for the blurry pic…
Speaking of VR motion rides, Trio-Tech had their latest VR & motion ride at the show by the name of Storm. Where they are looking to stand out is in using a Kinect-like gesture sensor to detect hand movement (I believe it is the Maestro gesture tracking system) while you ride. Colored balls of energy appear during the course and you need to capture more than the person sitting next to you, incentivizing both interactivity and competition to make it more than just a ride. It also features motion, face mask dispenser and wind; it initially ships with 3 ride films, but like with the Typhoon, adding more films will likely be in the pipeline down the road.
Super Firing (Luck Amusement)
I’d never heard of Luck Amusement before, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to come across the single video game that they had on their booth called Super Firing. While the name sounds pretty generic, the game is anything but. Some of you might know of a little Sega obscurity released in 2006 by the name of 2Spicy. Here’s a product video that shows it in some detail; there are other videos on YT that show it recording the screen and not the foot panels. Super Firing takes that concept and works on it to avoid some of the problems that 2Spicy had, mainly the zoom-in feature, which was a little tough to pull off. 2Spicy also made you point off of the screen frequently and Super Firing doesn’t need that, so it feels more seamless.
What also surprises me is how well done it is, given that this company does not appear to have much interest in video games until now. Their website doesn’t show any video games as a part of their product line-up; and the graphical fidelity of this game is among the best at the show (someone did point out that they might have been using an asset store for the objects, which does “cheat” compared to having someone make everything just for the game, so that’d be a minus). The resolutions of the game as well as the textures is high, there are no jaggies, it has HDR lighting, it runs at 60fps…it’s like this bizarre, wonderful anomaly.
Now it’s not perfect of course – there’s no storyline I noticed, like 2Spicy had. I’m not sure how your casual gamer would handle it since it just throws you into the mix, although it seemed easy to pick up after a moment. It would also make more sense for them to release a twin cabinet design like Time Crisis 5, than to try the single cab+link that Sega did in 2Spicy’s case. While it has not “powerful blow” mechanic, I would think that you could just change that – once your opponent’s health is at zero, have them stand in place in a daze, then you fire and it can do a dramatic animation or something like a fatality then. Here’s the video; I also have emailed the company CEO asking more questions (we talked for a short time) and we’ll see what they say:
Speed Driver 5: New Generation (IGS/Wahlap)
Every IAAPA, people want to know what Namco will be doing with Maximum Tune, and unfortunately Namco didn’t have any updates to offer there (or much else, sadly). But for fans of more serious racing games, a company out of China had something worth checking out, the 5th installment of Speed Driver. Developed by Taiwanese company IGS, the SD series has never had quite the same enthusiasm that Initial D and Maximum Tune get, but it’s still a really good racer from what I have played.
The graphics on this are very nice to look at – there are no jaggies like you find in MT5, and the lighting system is more advanced. It uses a 4K monitor(I believe this is the first racing arcade game to do so), so that might also employ HDR. The environments are also a little more interesting too, with driving along the beach, then into a town nestled among the mountains, etc. Between that, the handling, and some of IGS’ other racers like Storm Racer, I’m pretty sure that someone at IGS really, really loves Ridge Racer. The one place it wasn’t the best was in the sound department, I mean it’s passable, but lacks a lot of the same “engine growl” and tire screeching depth of the others and the music wasn’t as memorable.
The game does connect to the internet, but there is no card system in place. It integrates WeChat (much more popular in China than in the US), cloud-storage, a mobile companion app and global race battles. It mentions that you can create a profile, but it has to be online to do that (which the IAAPA version wasn’t). This ties into features like car customization and screenshot sharing, but again, if it’s offline, you don’t get to enjoy that stuff. It also has something that I appreciate as an operator – a casual “Play Now!” mode where you get a maxed out car and a Normal Mode, where you can select your car, transmission type and course to race on. Granted, it doesn’t have the ghost battles nor the soundtracks of something like MT, but I imagine that with a machine online, it has enough to stand on. It also has a live camera system, similar to what Sega has done with Daytona Championship USA and ATV Slam.
Here’s a race between myself and another showgoer, he was really into the game and it was fun racing in VS. mode. I’ll do another video on this with vocal commentary later (at the moment, I’m at my noisy arcade, which isn’t really good for recording such a thing):
Taito & UNIS Join Forces
I already mentioned that Taito was joining forces with UNIS, so let’s get into a little more detail about that.
Not all of the products will be manufactured by UNIS, some will only be distributed. They didn’t say which, but it does allow Taito access to more markets, something that they’ve been chomping at doing for a long time (their US arcade division shuttered in 1995, making it a challenge on their in-house games to get noticed).
Of the three games they had on the booth, two of them were getting constant, almost non-stop play – GunArena and Space Invaders Counter Attack. Festival Hero (known as Omatsuri Quest in Japan) was unfortunately overlooked at times, but it shouldn’t have been, as it’s a fun “party game” that’s like the Mario Party games in style. It uses very unique pump-action controllers and handles up to three people at once. The arcade equivalent to compare it to would be Panic Park, although I know that didn’t sell a ton of units either. Still, you get three people going on that game, and you’ll hear plenty of friendly shouting and laughs.
GunArena for it’s part is impressive – I can see it as being the more advanced cousin of axe throwing – but it needs a little work. Not the on the software side, but the hardware one. The primary concern of everyone is the safety mechanism. It’s supposed to sense if the gun is pointed at the screen or not and not allow you to shoot, but people had said that you could put your hand in front of the gun and it would fire (no, I did not try and test the limits of it’s sensing ability 😛 ). I don’t know if this is part of that problem, but while playing, sometimes the pellet did not come out, so making sure if doesn’t fire blanks is important. UNIS did say that they would be looking into some things, such as putting an enclosure around the sides, to also prevent issues. But I didn’t experience any pellets flying back at me or witness anyone getting shot with a pellet. The kickback on the gun is really nice too – these feel like real guns, being made out of metal. Not like what you find on most arcade machines.
On the software side, it’s fun target shooting with some variety. I posted videos of the levels in the past (Bottles/Plates / Police Trainer style / 301 Darts is below), but I was thinking afterwards that it would be pretty cool of Taito to make a level based on Elevator Action Death Parade.
Space Invaders Counter Attack is a unique twist of the Space Invaders Frenzy concept, but they made it clear that it’s still a prototype and will probably chance in some way before a release. That didn’t deter interest though; It was always being played, enough that I actually didn’t get a chance to try it. It was even being played before the show was open.
First off, it looks like a typical ball shooter videmption game – you sit on a bench and have a mounted ball cannon as your controller. Balls fire at the screen as a feedback mechanism, although the software senses the position of the gun like any other mounted blaster game. That said, this (and another game at the show using the same concept called Zombie Night) actually gives a practical purpose to the balls. When the invaders clear out your bases, there is a row of physical targets shaped like Invaders, and backlit with LEDs, that begin to march towards you. There are two per player; four overall. If they reach the bottom, it’s game over. Beat them back with the balls, and you move on to stage 2. It’s a cool variation that I imagine will soon be replacing all of the fake grass water games that are all over the place soon.
Ok, that’s all for this post – I had a bit written up about pinball, but I figured that it’s better to have some media on that done before getting into it, so it’ll be in the next post (probably). Let that serve as a reminder that there is a lot more to talk about than this, but I’m already 2500~ words into this one, so let’s take a break for now.
What are you most interested in from what you’ve read about so far?