Welcome to another mind-blowing edition of Newsbytes, a weekly blog post that curates a bunch of arcade news from around the web for you to chew on over your weekend. This week is admittedly a little light on news, as there still isn’t a whole lot happening in the wonderful world of arcades, but there’s enough to discuss so let’s get to it:
Diving Into The History Of A Legend: The Sega R360
I know that many readers, including AH site writer SaraAB87, are big fans of the Sega R360 that was launched back in 1990. I’ve only come across one once myself, and it was quite a sight to behold, with a side of intimidation. If you have ever wondered how the game came into being, then I highly suggest that you check out this interview with some of the R360 development staff on 4Gamer.net. Penned by a former Sega employee, it is in Japanese so an online translator is imperfect, but you should be able to glean enough from it, including the story of how it was inspired by a device in Perth, Australia to how the first prototype was made from a wooden cable drum, the cabinet molds, testing and so on. It’s a really fascinating piece that also touches on some other “mid-scale attraction concepts” that Sega put together back in the day, so give it a read!
Pengo! Online & Rolling Gunner Have Been Released In Japan
Speaking of Sega, they have decided to jumpstart their arcade-based digital content distribution network with the release of two new games this week. The first is a name that should be familiar to classic gamers, that being Pengo. The original was released in 1982 and was essentially Sega’s first mascot game, although the series hadn’t received much attention outside of early ’80s console ports. This changed back in 2010 when Sega released an 8-player version of the game to Japanese arcades, although I always thought it odd that they never gave the game a proper 8-player cabinet release (something like a fishing game cab would work out fine for it IMHO, and would have provided Namco’s Pac-Man Battle Royale with some friendly competition). This new version is essentially the same game as seen in 2010, but it now features an online component so you can play against users in other arcades.
The second game is a scrolling shoot ’em up called Rolling Gunner. Such “STGs” have been enjoying a resurgence in the country as of late, thanks in good part to the success of Exa-Arcadia’s Aka & Blue Type-R. This one seems to combine photographic backgrounds with 3D objects, along with plenty of bright pink & blue bullet action.
Unfortunately, I would not expect to see either of these games finding their way to arcades outside of Japan, although as the saying goes…never say never.
Blaze Added To Mario & Sonic Olympics 2020 Arcade
Last but not least from Segaland is a content update to Mario & Sonic At The Olympics Games 2020 Arcade Edition. A character from the Sonic universe, Blaze the cat, has been added to the game. It isn’t mentioned whether or not the US/EU versions of the game will get the same addition, but I would hope so. I don’t recall them adding more characters to the 2016 version, so this is welcome news. This game was released back in January of this year, although I have no idea how prevalent it is out there thanks to how things have shaken out. Here’s the JP trailer for the game’s release:
Step Mania X July 2020 Update
The song updates for the dance game Step Mania X continue, here is what you can expect with the latest free update:
In The Scene Podcast
If you want to dive more into the wonderful world of indie arcade gaming, then here’s a new YouTube channel/podcast focused exclusively on that from Indie Arcade Wave. They have eight episodes so far, and I imagine that will be expanding soon. Thanks to JBRPG for the tip:
Home Port Updates: Robotron: 2084, Qix, Avalanche and Nibbler
It might be odd to hear that there are still people out there putting effort into porting old games to equally old gaming platforms, but many people with the coding skills enjoy the challenge. For me, there are still some ancient gaming systems I still play occasionally, and I do like seeing these machines being pushed well beyond their supposed limits into doing games long thought impossible to pull off (although I have to admit that I like original homebrew content over arcade ports).
First is a port of Robotron: 2084 for the Atari 2600. Robotron was ported to a bunch of systems back in the day, but as far as I know, it wasn’t even considered for Atari’s 1977 game machine, given it’s limitations. Champ Games found a way to make it work though and the results are quite impressive (for a console that doesn’t have a sprite-based graphics system, 128 bytes of RAM and plenty of other limitations).
Also from Champ Games, Taito’s Qix is in development for the Atari 2600. This one is in a similar boat to Robotron, enjoying ports for numerous platforms except for the VCS. I’m curious to see how this one will pan out…doesn’t seem like it should be playable. 😛
Then a 3rd title from Champ Games is Avalanche, based on the obscure Atari arcade game of the same name. Most people know this one as Kaboom! on the Atari 2600, but it was ActiVision that created that one after being inspired by the arcade. Granted, Kaboom! has a little more ‘character’ to it.
Moving on from the world of the Atari 2600, we have the Commodore VIC-20. I’ve never come across one of these computers, but it seems to have a graphical style similar to the ZX Spectrum (which I also have never seen in person 😛 ) The arcade port now available for this one is Rock-Ola’s Nibbler, available as a download or a real cartridge.
A Little Tease From The Upcoming Arcade Heroes Trivia Video Game
It’s been some time since I updated you all to the status of my upcoming trivia video game for PC and mobile, but a major milestone has been reached in it’s development that I wanted to share. Here is a 30 second preview of a song I call “Blue, Blue Skies.” I had a thought for this some time ago, and I figured that one way I could help my game stand out from being a generic trivia title with arcade questions would be to create some unique music for it. I commissioned my friend Rob Howard of Rob Howard Music to flesh out and compose the song I had in my head, and he delivered the final version today. He’s playing one of his guitars in this intentionally intense song, which I hope you’ll enjoy when I release the game here sometime soon (got a few more features to figure out on implementation, then testing begins):