It’s rare that we have a post to do on Christmas Day, although where I’m at it’s still Christmas Eve. Either way, if you celebrate that, then Merry Christmas! If you celebrate something around this time, then have a happy holiday. Either way, make it a good day. To help with that, here’s another round of arcade news from exA-Arcadia that will hopefully give those remaining locations a boost going into 2021 as we have three new releases to discuss:
I’d never heard of Mr. Gimmick until this remake was announced, given that it was released at the very end of the NES’ lifespan in 1993, getting little to no attention in the US at the time. Had it come to the SNES instead, that might have been different, although it was developed to try and compete with the more complex games of the time. If you also aren’t familiar with it, the game is a 2D platformer that follows the story of a creature named Yumetaro, who is on a quest to rescue a young girl kidnapped by her own toys who became jealous of the bond that she and Yumetaro has together. The game mechanics involve more than just running and jumping though, as Yumetaro has a natural star attack – that you can also bounce on top of (while also being able to hop onto/ride a bunch of other creatures/objects). You’ll also grab items and there are a number of secret areas & items that one needs to find if you want to unlock the best ending.
This remake was specially crafted from the ground up by TEAM EXA-AM1 and stands as a full exA/arcade exclusive. While maintaining the same gameplay and level design as the original, it does include a number of improvements, fixes, and additions that will truly make this the definitive Gimmick experience. The additions include:
…smooth and detailed new graphics [which supports up to 4k monitors], an arranged soundtrack, and emphasized scoring mechanics to the original cult classic. A new Time Attack mode has been added, allowing for both new players to practice later stages…
There is also a Stage Edit function which will certainly make for varied play and hopefully serves as something to bring players back to the arcade; It also enjoys the same 2 frames of lag that the NES original had.
While you can play it with the new graphics and sound, the original graphics and sounds are also accessible in the game. Just pick Original when going through the game. Where I did pre-order this one, I’ll have some video of it possibly by next week or the week after, depending on when it arrives.
To accompany next week’s shipment of Gimmick kits to pre-order buyers, exA has also put together this great new game trailer. These animated sequences are full screen and complete cutscene animations…overall looks like a ton of fun. I’m sure the calls for a console port will be plentiful on this one, but exA made it clear to me that they have no intention of doing so.
Units begin shipping on Tuesday.
PSYVARIAR DELTA AC
One genre that certainly hasn’t been ignored on the system is the shmup, or STG, in particular “danmaku” (bullet hell) style shooters. Perhaps the biggest name to grace the platform so far is one of those, the new remix of DoDonPachi, which has lead to many locations in Japan to grab an exA board. This success was the reason for a delay on the release of Psyvariar, as the company needed to focus on DDP first.
Originally developed by Success and released to arcades on Taito’s G-Net platform in 1999, Psyvariar has done well enough to span some sequels, carving out it’s own fanbase. The main gimmick (hey) it employs is the “Buzz System,” where players are rewarded by risks taken in grazing bullets. The Delta release is the 4th in the series and launched on PC/PS4/Switch back in 2018/19, but avoided arcades – until now. The exA version comes with enhanced graphics, a new soundtrack by Wasi3030 and some other game balancing changes. You’ll also be able to run it in either horizontal or vertical mode depending upon the setup.
THE EXA I/O BOARD
Last but not least is a new piece of hardware that I think is welcome for ops to get their hands on. ExA systems support the JVS wiring standard, something that has been used in Japan for the past 20 years, but is not terribly common-place in territories like the US, where it’s much easier to come by a JAMMA wired game. To convert JAMMA games over to JVS, a number of I/O boards have been made over the years, primarily by Sega and Capcom, but they’ve become more scarce in recent times, and in various configurations (some of which really don’t work for what you want to do with an exA system). They also vary in processing speeds, which can affect “input lag,” an important factor in high-action games like fighters and shmups, where you want that lag to be as low as possible.
To alleviate that problem of relying on old hardware, exA has launched their own JVS I/O board for $75USD. The board was recently launched in Japan and it looks pretty simple at a glance, but I think it will be appreciated for what it brings to the table.
As you notice from the pic above, it features two JAMMA edge connectors on it, which serves two configuration purposes: 1) Allows you to operate a 4-player cabinet (2 sets of joystick controls per connector) 2) Allows you to operate a “VS. style” cabinet, a popular setup in Japan where cabinets sit back-to-back. This “socially distant” style of cabinet is mainly used in competitive fighting games. The white connectors are for installing a kick harness to support up to six buttons (which as far as I know, none of the released games so far have done more than four).
Of course, if you don’t want to use the I/O for either of those and just run your cabinet off of 1 connector, that’s fine too (if fact, it’s what I’ll do with mine, as I want to replace the Sega JVS board I’ve been using with this, since the exA one is faster). This also lays the groundwork for upcoming 4-player releases such as Nippon Marathon Turbo, which lands next month to join the likes of Lightning Knights.
That’s it for today – as I’ve hinted at in the past, there’s a lot more in store for exA in 2021, where we’ll be sure to provide details as they arrive!