Happy Holidays everyone, regardless of the belief you have and the days that you commemorate. Welcome to the final Newsbytes of 2020, with these posts involving a quick collection of news from the arcade/pinball world. There’s not a ton to talk about this time since it’s on the tail end of what is usually a mellow news week anyway, although if you missed it, check out the story on the last two arcade releases of 2020, coming to us from exA-Arcadia.
For the rest:
New Game For Nintendo Vs. Cabs: Vs. From Below
I’ve long been a fan of “homebrew” games, indie games developed on old/ancient game hardware. A healthy scene exists for almost every classic game system out there, but in the arcade space it’s a rare thing since most platforms used their own unique hardware configurations, and the development hardware for them is even harder to come across. Fortunately, some platforms use things akin to game cartridges and/or also are based on popular game consoles, making development for them a bit more possible. One of those is the Nintendo Vs. platform.
Back in the 80s, Nintendo had two major arcade platforms that were enhanced versions of their NES home console: The VS. System and the Playchoice-10. The PlayChoice was more of a timer system, while Vs. games were customized for the arcade experience. Back in 2017, we did report on a new game coming to the Playchoice-10 system called Spook-A-Tron, and today, there’s a new game coming to the VS. System by the name of Vs. From Below. The game itself is a variant of Tetris, where you are doing battle with a Kraken-like sea creature by fitting the blocks together. The game can be downloaded for free here, although if you want to play it on real hardware, you’ll need to burn it to some proper ROMs.
The Namco Museum of Art
Every arcade company of the late 70s and early 80s could put together their own art museum, given the amount of professional art that was needed to produce & market arcade machines at the time. A lot of effort went into the flyers to convince operators to grab the game; then you had the cabinets themselves, which became more elaborate for a time (then it’s gone back and forth between generic to detailed ever since). For their part, Bandai Namco Studios is shining a spotlight on their arcade history with a video series called The Namco Museum of Art. So far they’ve done a video highlighting Galaxian, Xevious, and Wonder Momo. In each video, it takes them about a minute of describing the game before they get into the artwork, with a strong focus on the flyer. Here’s the one on Xevious, although note that all of these videos are in Japanese. Still, you don’t have to understand what is being said to appreciate art like this. If you want to browse a great gallery of flyer classics, then be sure to check out Flyer Fever.
Konami Releases Armored Princess Battle Conductor
Yes, Konami still makes non-Bemani arcade games every once in a while, although the chances of finding most Konami stuff these days depends on whether or not Round1USA decides to import a particular game. Whether or not they’ll grab this unique piece I don’t know, but it’s something that Konami has teased for quite a while now. The final cabinet (seen below) has changed from what they showed earlier this year but overall keeps the same concept going. If you’re wondering what the heck the game is, it’s a battle royale style game, where you control customizable robot “princesses” around an arena. The Princesses are only 15cm tall, so in a way, it’s an interpretation of those little green army guys. You’ll notice an odd display on the left-hand side; This is a kind of volumetric or pseudo-holographic display that shows your princesses in 3D. Konami is also holding a “Bemani collaboration” through next month, with APBC songs (and I think characters) appearing in various active Bemani arcade titles.
This might have you scratching your head in lieu of the news about Sega selling off their arcade operations, but keep in mind that the buyer, GENDA, would likely find it in their interest to maintain the branding.
Earlier this year, Taito set a Guinness World record at a location in Japan for “Most crane machines operating in a single facility.” Sega/GENDA isn’t content to sit by and let them have that, so now they are challenging that award with the freshly re-opened SEGA Shinjuku Kabukicho location. They are promising 480 UFO Catchers, over 100 different prizes available plus some items that you won’t find anywhere else.
Another interesting thing about this location that Kevin Williams pointed out, is the arrival of some new anti-viral tech. I’ll just rip the translated quote from the website:
All UFO Catcher® in Sega Shinjuku Kabukicho are equipped with anti-virus sheets. An “antiviral sheet” is a product that has passed the “SIAA certification” of the Antibacterial Product Technology Council (SIAA) and is only allowed to display the mark on products that have been quality controlled according to the guidelines. By reducing the risk of contact, everyone who visits the store can enjoy it with peace of mind.
It goes on to discuss a number of other measures, which include making employees regularly “gargle and rinse,” which probably refers to certain mouthwashes that have been shown to kill COVID in the mouth. Either way, I’m curious about this anti-viral tech – I’ve mentioned before that I looked into having joysticks made out of brass (a copper alloy; copper naturally kills most germs and viruses, including COVID. Works in alloys too), but it was just too expensive to do. Even though the evidence for the infectious spread on COVID from touch surfaces is pretty weak/minimal, if it helps with general peace of mind, then I’d like to know if other arcades might be able to get their hands on this or something similar. Granted, I’m sure there will be plenty of fakes out there too…
EAG 2021 Online Opens Up For Visitors
While I’ve always wanted to attend EAG, it’s always been tough since it takes place so close to IAAPA, Christmas, and a bunch of family birthdays, making the expense a bit out of reach. This year will be different though as they are holding it entirely online. As these virtual trade shows go, they are primarily the seminar portion of the show instead of the on-floor experience, allowing operators to do some networking and hopefully gather some new ideas together for surviving continued lockdowns. You can register for it here.
This week I will see if I can get to the Top 10 Posts article and a Games of 2020 video, so stay tuned for those if they happen. Also where I had pre-ordered Gimmick, I hope it’ll be in hand next week, to which I can record some footage of it (won’t guarantee that I’m any good at it though). I also have submitted a new development build of the arcade trivia game to my tester to see how it’s going…although if everything in it is good, then there are still some things I’d like to add to it (more music, maybe a few voice overs…some character animations would be really nice, but I don’t have the funds to have those made right now).
That’s all I could get for now, but to be honest, I’m a little bit out of it at the moment, and not just because of Christmas. I had a small health issue earlier in the week, but something that millions have been through before with acute appendicitis. I’m in the post-surgery recovery phase now, which is quite a bit less painful than the “what on earth is causing this excruciating pain?” phase beforehand. I’m very grateful to those in my life that have been there for me, particularly God and my family. I hope all the best for you in 2021!