Hello there boys and girls, and welcome to another exciting edition of Newsbytes. It’s been a little bit since we’ve done this due to the work needed on IAAPA videos, but note that I am pretty much finished on that end. Just need to finish work on the VR game supercut and then back to regularly scheduled programming.
Before we get started, it’s also worth noting The Game Awards that were held the other day. It’s too bad that arcades are still treated as anathema in that part of the business, but hopefully that will change with time. Arcades will be making a strong representation at GDC 2020 this coming March, as I have been in the process of working with GDC management and several different arcade companies to setup an arcade there. More details on that to come once confirmations are all in place.
Don’t forget – there are only a few days left to vote for your arcade & pinball Game of the Decade! Be sure to share that around to any arcade/pinball loving friends, as the more votes, the better the results!
Anyways, onto the news
A Blind Gamer Recounts His Arcade Experience
Earlier this week, a reader by the name of Aaron Danvers-jukes posted “a long read” on the Arcade Heroes Facebook group. This was an amazing & humbling read for me, as he detailed his history of arcade gaming as a blind person and how this site, along with those who contribute such as The Stinger Report, have allowed him to truly enjoy arcades. I have an aunt who was born blind and understand to some degree the challenges that the blind face in society, but enjoying video games in this state takes dedication to a level I’ll never be able to fully comprehend. Granted, being blind doesn’t prohibit anyone from developing a talent or enjoying – my aunt does some crocheting on an advanced, professional quality level. But it still makes it a challenge when games are not always designed with the same level of detail on the audio cues as they are for the visual ones. Reading Aaron’s story of how he enjoys games just leaves me awestruck.
You can read it on the aforementioned FB group, but if you’re not on there (or don’t care for FB), then I’ve embedded the post below along with some minor edits, such as hyperlinks to some of the games he mentions. Just click to expand. I may also do a VLOG about this later this week, if I can find the time, where I’ll read it.
Thank you for being here Aaron – YOU are a true Arcade Hero.
I don’t know if I’ve introduced myself here or not.
I’m a blind person in my 20’s from the UK. I was introduced to arcades from an early age. But before I go into all of that, I’d really, really like to thank Arcade Heroes for everything you do. I don’t know what your name is, it just says Arcade Heroes, the only name I know of is know Kevin Williams, who posts in here too, as part of Stinger Report. Can I please say thank you to both of you because you are making a blind person very very happy.
Right, where was I, oh yes, my arcade story…
It started out with kiddie rides like the Mr. Blobby Sea Saw and Postman Pat Van.
But then it moved onto pinball. We had some local arcades and each one had various pinball machines, I liked all of them. The only way I could play though, was to flip the flippers in sort of rhythm and hope it was enough. I didn’t even know about rule sheets and table styles until years later, when all the machines are gone. Thank goodness for YouTube because there’s people playing both old and new pinball on there, it’s a godsend.
I also loved, still do, fighting games and side scrollers back then.
My parents would help me move my character around the screen. This was mostly my Dad.
He then taught me about side scrollers and the joystick. It was great for me to be able to follow his directions and do some battling. For fighters, I was a bit of a button masher back then. I’m better than that now.
This all came to a bit of a head recently. Specifically August 2019. On a trip to California, on the Santa Cruz boardwalk they had some fighting games. Using the knowledge I’d learned from consoles, for the first time ever, I was able to pull off a hadouken as Ryu. A real, hadouken, on a real, arcade stick, scratch that, a real arcade machine. I don’t know if my parents realized how big of a deal it was because I did actually yell out a little. Trust me when I say that this was, absolutely, worth, the payoff. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve never been able to do that before. I wanted to try this, and what I did not expect, was that I was able to pull it off… the first time I tried the motion. Then it got better. I successfully pulled it off twice… tried again… three times, and again… four times, in a row. Seriously, this was truly magical. I know I said it already but I don’t know how to explain it properly. I’d been reading sites like Arcade Heroes and fighting game fansites for years and heard about fight sticks and such, and heard about that arcade experience, but to actually get the chance, this year… truly unexpected. I wish I had the audio recording of my reactions, but the recording got corrupted unfortunately.
For lightgun games, my Dad aims the gun, I could feel the movement, and he’d tell me to fire. It is quite a tactile experience because, of course, he’d be moving my hand towards different parts of the screen. Sometimes, depending on the lightgun game, and the person I’m with, they would actually let me take the reigns completely and tell me when to stop aiming or which direction. This is actually harder when that happens, I think it’s easier if someone aims for me.
For driving games, this is where things get unique. My Dad lets me play, but he will not control my car *unless* I also put my hand on the wheel. This means that I get the tactile experience of driving, it’s a bit tricky to sometimes keep up with the wheel in sharper turns.
One of my favourite types of attractions are simulators. It’s now gotten to the point where if there’s a coin-op sim, my parents would just take me to the doors and give me some pound coins and wait outside. It’s just me, and the machine, for a few minutes. I wish Trocadero still existed. Sega Mini Rider is amazing, and it’s gone, and I miss it so, so much.
While arcades are a place of joy, for me, they also became a place of fear. I am proud to say that i conquered two absolute nemesises of mine, in arcades. Are you guys ready for some ridiculous fears?
Prologue: the mysterious “ha ha ha” machine
Dateline. Around 1997. My Mum takes me to a local arcade with some kiddie rides in their own section. We ride the musical mushroom, that’s fine. Although there’s a difference this time. As I’ve been riding my favourite rides, I kept on hearing a whistle, a bang, and something laughing. There was a new machine here. I don’t remember my initial reaction accept I never asked about it. As I was riding the rides though, I kept on hearing this thing. It all came to a head when I rode a kiddie train. The machine went off right next to me!
I don’t think it was until I got home, that I talked about it. I ended up calling it the ha ha ha. Now, I think to make this easier for everyone, I am putting the name right here. It turns out this machine is Cosmo Gang, a redemption piece by Namco. This might make you realize why I was so scared of it, if anyone here is familiar with this old machine. Read on for what ended up happening to me and how I conquered this.
Conquering the “ha ha ha” part 1: the truth and explanation, and first go.
It took me around six weeks until I could step foot in that local arcade again. This time, it was my Dad, and I think this time he was made aware. We got to the kiddie ride bit, and we found the musical mushroom. But before I could insert a coin into the mushroom… that attract mode goes off. I don’t say anything, but I do feel fear. So, after riding the mushroom, it was time. My Dad took me over to the ha ha ha machine.
Now, this was when I was much younger so I don’t remember every detail, but he took, I don’t know how long, but he took a long time out, just describing this thing to me and showing me it. We were there for quite some time. Interestingly, during this time, there was no noise from it. So, we put a coin in. What I do remember before pressing the start button, was my Dad saying that the seat felt like my toy box. So I sat down and sure enough, he was right, and we pressed the start button. It was all fine, I had a cassette recording to prove it as well. Now, back then I didn’t actually know this was a fear, and from then on out, it was fine.
part 2: Learning the name, and playing.
I don’t know how, but I learned the name was Cosmo Gang. We spotted the machine in another arcade as well and just to prove how fine I was about it now, my Dad just said hay, Cosmo Gang’s here, and I honestly made no fuss. I heard it, thought it was a bit quieter than the other one, and of course played. I found it a little amusing it was in another arcade, but I was absolutely fine with it. Little did I know, this wouldn’t be the end.
Part 3: Cosmo Glitch!
We went to the original place a few years later. Of course, I’d been there many times since the ha ha ha/Cosmo Gang, and all was fine. So we went into the area with the rides and, hay, what’s this? We’ve got an Old McDonald’s chicken game, we’ve got Busy Bee. Oh, and we got Cosmo Gang. So I played all three. Cosmo Gang last. Ooooo boy. We got to the end… and the thing glitched at the most inopportune time. “we made it, we made it! we made it, we made it! we made it….” etc, etc, this thing went on and seemingly would not shut up. There was so much clanging as the mechanics were also moving. The thing got stuck. This went on for a good 20 seconds…and thankfully…stopped.
But that was it. The fear had set in once again.
Every time I heard the attract mode coming from down the stairs, I would pull my parents arm to get me out of the range. Yes, even though I was a little older now, maybe around 11 or 12, I dunno, not a teenager though, well, that fear had truly set in again.
I did not touch Cosmo Gang until I was a teen. They’d fixed it by the time I touched it again.
Or so I thought. The last thing I remember about this machine before it vanishing, was it glitched once again, although this time I was just amused by it. So now, I’m left with the memories, of me conquering a fear.
But it’s far from over. I shall save the ultimate fear conquering for another post, as this one’s getting long. Let’s end this with something very happy.
I’d like to end this post with the point Arcade Heroes has been responsible for some of the best arcade moments in my life, and I’d like to provide those examples right now.
When Batman was announced on this website, there was me thinking oh cool, I’m looking forward to going to the mainland next year to experience that, probably. Or, I might not ever get to experience it. Definitely not in a local arcade. We’d have to travel to the mainland, as said earlier.
Fast forward to March of that next year. I saw the post that Batman had been released to distributors. A couple of weeks later, we went to a local arcade, just because we hadn’t been there for a while, and we had some time to kill.
My Dad was reading off the game names to me as he always does, and he said Batman.
My heart literally skipped a beat. I asked wait, what is it?
He showed me the seat.
Now, keep in mind, I can’t see cabinet art or promos or anything like that, but I’ve listened to videos and I also read the stuff and so I knew it was a driving game.
To touch the seat, and to realize… hold on, is this really happening… Well, let me just say right here, right now, that I was genuinely surprised to the point of sort of… yelling out. I did not expect to be playing this game the same year of release… in a local arcade of mine. Honestly, this was one of the best experiences ever, my Dad just rolling the name off because of course, he had no idea what was new, and me realizing… what was about to happen… me touching the seat… and the total shock of it all. Then putting in that first coin… and that bassy credit sound playing. Just… wow.
I’d also like to offer you another example, probably the best one ever, most ridiculous reaction ever as well.
Jurassic Park Arcade by Raw Thrills.
We went to my local arcade, this time, it was me and a carer.
We were on a mission, I wanted to tell them about the new game.
I got to see someone, and I told them, and he said they’d pass it on.
My carer was reading games to me, and he suddenly said, Jurassic Park.
I asked, oh, is that the Lost World?
He said Jurassic Park Arcade.
It’s the only way I can describe my reaction.
It was there all along. I had no idea, the carer had no idea, this was utterly nuts.
He described the cabinet. No joke, One credit went in… I waited slightly… Two… Three… Kept on going until I had five credits and I hadn’t even heard what happens when you press the start button yet.
Then I pressed the start button.
Yep, spent the next half an hour playing the game and really enjoying the experience. If it wasn’t for Arcade Heroes I don’t think these experiences would have had as much weight as they did. As I said at a point in this post, these two experiences, are probably some of my arcade favourites, and it’s thanks to you guys. You’re truly a part of my arcade story now, so thank you so, so much, for making a blind person happy. Thank you so so much.
Custom Making An Exa-Arcadia Cabinet With Fun Company
This coming Monday, I will have a new arcade cabinet in my possession – something designed by the Wisconsin-based cabinet maker Fun Company. After the Exa-Arcadia pre-orders opened last month, I started searching for a cabinet solution. I did contact someone who imports Japanese candy cabs, particular Vewlix’s, but the model I was in need of wouldn’t be available until late Q1 next year. I also reached out to Fun Company, and they had a solution that was able to come together in just a couple of weeks (well, +1 week on top of that due to IAAPA delays).
I opted for the FunGlo Pedestal design, since that would allow me to purchase my own monitor. Games like fighters and shooters need to have what is known as “low input lag,” otherwise you end up with a small delay between when you push the button and the action happens on the screen (this wasn’t a problem with CRTs, due to how the tech works).
I purchased a TCL 55R625, which per research has one of the best ratings for gaming performance out there, and it doesn’t break the bank. I also am working on creating a monitor bezel, so that it doesn’t just look like a TV sitting there. Exa does support 4K resolution, so that also gives me a leg up on Vewlix’s, which hit a max of 1080p. All-in-all, my cabinet will end up costing less than a Vewlix anyways, and I think it looks great. I’ll know for sure on Monday when it arrives at my location. I don’t have the Exa board yet…still patiently waiting for the notice on shipment for those. But the cabinet is wired for JAMMA, so I’ll run something like Street Fighter III or Metal Slug 6 for now.
For fun, here’s a pic of the Exa-Arcadia game cartridges & shipping boxes. This was not taken by me, but shared by ShouTime while I was at IAAPA, and I just didn’t have a good chance to share it with you until now:
Konami Unveils Beatmania IIDX Lightning Model
Thanks to Kevin Williams for initially sending me an image of the cabinet, later confirmed by Konami on the official Beatmania IIDX account. There’s supposed to be a teaser site here, but it’s undergoing maintenance as I type this. I wouldn’t expect to see this in the States excepting Round1USA, but you never know. Lirodon on Twitter offered more details, emphasizing that it’s a new cabinet for existing BM 27, offering a 120Hz monitor, improved controls, headphone jacks and more.
— 【公式】beatmania IIDX (@IIDX_OFFICIAL) December 13, 2019
Upcoming IntelliVision Game Console Showcases Arcade Remakes
A new game console is jumping into the fray next October, one that has a familiar name among some retro gamers – IntelliVision. I personally never had one and didn’t get to play it until a game party about 20 years ago, but INTV certainly left their mark on the early 80’s gaming scene. Now they are back, sans the Mattel name, and prepping a new console for launch called the Amico. Per the CEO’s own words on forums like AtariAge, they are hoping to recapture the gaming market found with the Nintendo Wii, but as a part of their strategy, it includes revamping a number of classics for today’s audience. That includes new versions of Asteroids, Missile Command, Breakout and Moon Patrol, all of which will be exclusive to the Amico platform. This week the company posted a new trailer of Breakout, and they also have launched a very short demo of Moon Patrol via their Amico Club app (available for Android and iOS devices). What do you think?
Lost To Time – Sega’s Execution
Have you ever wanted to simulate getting your head cut off? I can’t say that I have either, which is why Sega’s prototype of a guillotine simulator never made it that far. It is true that a variation of the idea exists at Sega’s Joypolis in Odaiba, but the machine shown in the Twitter thread below was going to be intended as a novelty arcade machine. As a novelty, it’s short & simple – stick your head in, it blows some air at you and screams. Not much else for it to do, but I’m glad the information on it has been preserved. H/T to Ted for pointing this one out to me:
So here it is the moment you've been waiting for… This is the story of the never before seen SEGA arcade game EXECUTION
This has been at timezone surfers paradise for ages now. So I asked @sonictoyhunter if he could hook me up with some info and what I got was nothing… pic.twitter.com/mLN9Pd1tzC
— IAMAMAZING100 (@iamamazing100) December 3, 2019
Cosmotrons: Casual Mode
I am finishing up on the videos cut from IAAPA 2019, posting a video of Cosmotrons to the AH channel this morning. Next up is VR. But one thing that I missed in sharing recently is the new Casual Mode that was put into the most recent software build. Here’s an explanation of what it entails:
Motion Sphere – The R360 With Today’s Tech
Given that the Sega R360 was released way back in 1990, what could you do with the concept by using today’s tech? Enter in Brazilian company Motion Sphere. This combines the tech used in the Sega R360 with Namco’s dome screen setup. Now do note that this video which was making the rounds this week (shared with me through Kevin Williams) is from 2015, and the company’s YouTube page hasn’t seen an update since last year. Still, if they are around, then is should provide ample evidence as to how we can still see really cool things in arcades & simulators (saying that to those who claim that there’s “nothing cool anymore” in arcades):
Next Generation Boxer?
Kevin Williams shared this one on the Arcade Heroes Facebook group – I dunno if this is the future of the interactive punching/kicking game or not, but it’s doing something different at least. They just really, really need to load up on the padding on those exposed metal bars, as that’s an injury waiting to happen. Granted, anything you’re taking a swing at has that risk to you…or an unsuspecting bystander.
Ok, I think we’re all caught up. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you next week, where I should have a new locations post up, and a review & full-playthrough of the Star Wars Battle Pod.