Let’s continue our coverage of the IAAPA Expo 2019 event, but before jumping into that, here are links to the first two stories (In case you missed them)
This post will be media heavy, but should include some tidbits of news that was not covered in the videos so far and in the previous IAAPA posts. This also won’t still cover everything that was at the show…perhaps by Post #4!
As I was putting this post together, I remembered what it was that I really liked about this IAAPA – variety. While I heard some say “oh, it was just another trade show, nothing interesting,” I guess that’s one of those “eye of the beholder” opinions. In my view, this was an awesome expo, driven by a larger number of unique releases than we’ve seen in a while. I like light-gun and driving games as much as the next guy, but it’s the stuff that tries to do something really different that I am drawn to. I keep seeing complaints from a vocal minority online about how the industry doesn’t do anything “really crazy anymore,” but so often the complaints are not verbalized with a solid example of what “crazy” is or why things have to be that way to make this business “valid.” Not everything has to be a full-blown simulator to be fun or interesting. We still have those, but there’s plenty of good to be found if you look for it. That all said, let’s dive in to Part 3.
A Quick Note On VR At IAAPA
Since I haven’t had a chance to compile everything on VR yet, this Forbes article can suffice for now, with the Barron Games Koliseum Foosball VR table getting the strongest nod of the IAAPA VR bunch.
I’ll get to pinball on the next post, just putting this here to let you know that I didn’t forget or overlook it 🙂
I believe we mentioned this before, but among the many card reader options that are out there these days, game maker Unit-E Technologies was at the show with the release version of their RFPay system. This purports to be the most affordable card system on the market, where you can go here and see prices (I haven’t shopped around on the various systems to compare). They had an unfortunate placement at the show, being put behind LAI’s tall booth wall, so I’m not sure how many people came across them.
Mario & Sonic At The Olympics Arcade Edition Tokyo 2020 – It’s a mouthful, but still a fun minigame sports compilation. The buttons worked fine – I would just suggest for a final release that they be put a little closer together and a little higher up from where they were on this show model. This software wouldn’t let you pick the event, but I got a feel for a few of them, including the Tokyo 1964 events that have an old school 80s/90s 2D look to them. These were converted from the 2016 models, with no new dedicated cabinets in sight yet, but it was done pretty well (it didn’t look like a conversion)
ATV Slam – Even though I got a chance to play this earlier in the year, it only had a single unit and I think that the software wasn’t 100% complete (maybe 98%). The game was released in the Spring, so it was nice to finally get a chance to give it another go. If you like your racers requiring more skill from the player, then this fits the bill, at least from what I could tell. The graphics and sounds on it are great, I like the motion, although wouldn’t mind seeing a slightly smaller/cheaper standard cabinet too.
On Point (formerly GunArena)- I’ve talked about this one a bit, but it was a different name up until the other day when UNIS began touting it with a new (and better) name: On Point. This was among the most popular games at the show and here’s some video in case you missed it:
Space Invaders Counter Attack – Another very popular game, one that I found difficult to capture any footage of without someone sitting at it as it was always being played. They made sure to point out that this is early in development; one aspect I noticed was in need of tweaking was the physical targets. It seemed to focus on the right player a lot in terms of how much you need to blast those moving targets, and the backlight behind them wasn’t always on. But I don’t think it would need too much else in terms of work to complete.
Festival Hero – If you enjoy games like Panic Park or Hyper Bishi-Bashi, then this is the game for you. Festival Hero is known as Omatsuri Quest Hippare Q in Japan, but employs a unique pump-action control scheme in the service of a variety of mini-games. That and the party game nature of this game helps it stand out in the crowded field of games, although it wasn’t the center of attention at the Taito section of the UNIS booth (wedged in-between the two games mentioned above). I also forgot to mention in the video that this is powered by the Taito Type X4 hardware, something that I had forgot existed (granted, it’s just upgrades of PC hardware, but I still like to geek out over hardware specs anyways 😛 )
Bandai Namco Amusements
A few people have asked about Namco, and while they were at the show, there is nothing major to report in video games. Their main attraction was Red Zone Rush, a redemption game they first showed at Bowl Expo, but now ready for prime time. They did have a charity version of Pac-Man’s Pixel Bash(pictured below), but that’s not exactly what one would expect to see out of a company about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most recognizable mascots in the world. Perhaps they’ll do something Pac-Man related for Amusement Expo, but it’s hard to say. Pac-Man Panic was not there; no news on Maximum Tune (which is now about to roll out version 6R in Japan, leaving the US MT5’s further behind). They did eschew VR this time (apart from some flyers touting their VR Zone pop-up venues), but there was one new thing at their booth of interest – it just wasn’t made by them – called Zombie Jam. I’ll get into that probably by the next post. It’s a much more compact answer to Bay Tek’s Connect 4 Hoops.
— Bandai Namco Amusement (@BandaiNamcoAM) November 20, 2019
SpaceWarp 66 – TouchMagix (a site sponsor as you probably noticed) introduced 3 new games at the show, and of the three I kept hearing people bring this one up when discussing games that they liked at the show. All of their games currently feature simple premises, although they seem to have discovered their niche in terms of these videmption games (they had more games with more elaborate tech in them like Mannequin Challenge and Mystery Island, but seem to be eschewing that trouble and cost in favor of these concepts). YouTuber Arcade Matt and his crew seemed impressed with it, who stopped by to play while I was talking with the Touch Magix staff. The gameplay reminds me of Ballistics and Yoomp!; I think a non-ticket version would work out just fine if you had the levels change their color/design after you reach gate 66 and you just keep going for a high score. Also add a 2nd spinner and have two player competitive play. They did indicate that a non-ticket version was possible and likely, since they have clients who cannot operate redemption due to local laws/regulations:
Ultra Motor VR – UNIS has also pulled back on how many VR games they have available from what we saw at IAAPA 2018 (they had a range of VR for kids coin-op games), but instead of trying a bunch of different ideas, they’ve focused on just this one right now. Ultra Moto VR is a motorbike simulator with some over-the-top hyper reality events that you expect to find in modern arcade racer. While the game can be played without the VR headset, they need to do some adjustments on the calibration process to automatically understand when a user opts to play this way, as you need an attendant to keep picking it up and recalibrating until it figures it out. That aside, the motion base & wind effects work out well, the graphics are solid and it’s fun to play.
Cosmotrons – Found at the PrimeTime Amusements booth (another advertiser on the site as you can see on the side), this indie game was available in it’s two flavors – the standard Woody and the Deluxe-O-Tron. Both were sporting a new software upgrade that features a casual mode with completely new settings that an operator can put in place in case their location sees a lot of casual players (like mine). Shane Gutbrod, the game’s creator, was also there to promote it. Here’s the explanation video for it:
Hot Wheels: King of the Road – This is a rare case of a game starting out as an indie game, but getting picked up and reworked for a release through a major established manufacturer. On the latter, that would be Adrenaline Amusements, who has really come a long way from when I first saw them 10 years ago (they now have over 100 employees, although they don’t bring them all to a show like this). We’ve mentioned King of the Road before, as well as the Hot Wheels model, although Adrenaline made sure to pull out the stops on promoting this by bringing a real and road ready Hot Wheels vehicle to the booth. After the show, they unveiled that a 4-player version is available for this, in addition to the six.
StepManiaX – You say “Step Maniacs,” I say “Step Mania X.” Whatever you call it, there was a new dance machine in town, with StepManiaX finally making it’s debut to the industry at large. This was very popular by all accounts that I saw, with a lot of normal show buyers stopping to look or try it out. This game was initially made available on a non-coin basis to gyms, schools and private buyers, but this model is fully location ready. For places that want to feature a brand new dancing rhythm game that doesn’t break the budget, this is definitely an excellent solution.
Ok, that’s all for now, but keep in mind, there is more news from IAAPA to cover! I am trying to get to it as fast as I can, but it’s always a challenge when working a busy week. Thanks for reading and catch you on the next story!