Amusement Expo 2021 is officially over, so with the dust settled, let’s take this opportunity to wrap it all up in a tidy blog post. I may do a Vlog about it too, if anyone is interested; Speaking of videos, thanks to everyone who has subscribed to the AH YouTube channel lately. Maybe by the end of the year we’ll hit 10,000.
I did a preview of Amusement Expo 2021 here, although as expected, some of my guesses turned out to be wrong. No worries – if I was that good at predicting the future, then I would’ve spent time in the casino instead of the tradeshow. 😛
For those who aren’t familiar with Amusement Expo, this is an annual tradeshow that focuses on the arcade, laser tag, and “LBE VR” (Location-based Entertainment VR) industries. It’s usually held in Las Vegas, as it was this year.
I’ll go through each manufacturer alphabetically, which means we start with:
They did bring two new games, although Hungry Hungry Hippos and Drakons were not among them. This was mainly due to the fact that the company is headquartered in Quebec and due to travel restrictions, that prevented all but two of the staff from attending. I also imagine that spares on games like HHH aren’t in abundant supply. Anyways, the two new pieces were Twister and an Angry Birds-themed whacker (the latter joins their Minions-themed whacker). There wasn’t any news on Drakons to share, so we’ll have to wait and see.
They had a small booth, with Avengers, Basketball Pro, and Spongebob Soccers Stars vending. The latter was designed for routes – it’s super compact, pretty inexpensive, and lets you play a penalty kick game for capsules.
Bandai Namco Amusements America
This was perhaps the most sparse I’ve ever seen a BNA booth, with Pac-Man’s Pixel Bash serving as the only video piece, but they did assure me that IAAPA will have some new stuff. I heard from a non-BNA source that they are working on revitalizing one of their 00’s era titles, so we’ll see if it’s there…
Bay Tek Entertainment
This was a pretty busy booth any time I dropped by, as their two newest pieces – Axe Master and Rock The Rim – were drawing crowds. Axe Master is out there at Dave & Busters as Hatchet Hero, bringing axe throwing to arcades (although it’s still an enormous game) while Rock The Rim is Bay Tek’s take on the popular video basketball genre (I.e., it has a video screen as the backboard and you play one of several mini-games, not just shooting hoops or doing typical rounds). That one also makes use of LEDs in the rim as a timer which was a nice touch. I wasn’t able to get a turn on Axe Master but it was one game I never saw unoccupied. You can see those two pieces in the video at the top.
I missed out on this one, sorry! Not sure what they had.
They had their new Ring Toss Jr. game there, Plinko, and a couple of other things, but nothing new in the videmption space. That isn’t surprising, given that they’ve grabbed and re-branded their videmption stuff from various Chinese companies like Ace Amusements. Given the shipping and production issues out of China, I wouldn’t expect to see much from those kinds of companies for the rest of the year. Ring Toss was quite popular though, so I’m sure they were fine with that.
To my surprise, none of the products that they showed off at Bowl Expo the week prior was present, so I didn’t really stop by.
I covered them at length on this blog post so I won’t repeat all that here (since it’s very thorough; Do note that it’s been updated with more videos), other than to mention again that they had more new content at the show than I’ve ever seen anyone bring. It was a little bit surreal to see so many new fighting and shoot ’em up games on the floor – in the past, that’s been such a rare one-off. That’s the advantage of a multi-cart system…
Hawt Pink Club
Due to the adult nature of this one, scroll to the bottom for more info.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to check ICE out, but they did have a very impressive display for their Monopoly Roll-N-Go game, a newer-looking version of their All-In redemption game, and the NBA Game Time Pro, one of the pieces meant for homes. They also had a number of older games there, making for a packed booth.
IT was focused on two pieces – Golden Tee PGA Tour and Retro Raccoons. For obvious reasons, Golden Tee 2020 was nowhere around. The new cabinet for Golden Tee looks really nice, far better than the old one, and at least the game is in 4K. It also has no coin payment available – just bills or NFC. The same mostly goes for Retro Raccoons, which has a bill acceptor option, but not your traditional coin door. RR now has around 40 mini-games with more on the way; I’ll also have news on this one sometime soon. This is possibly the lowest priced brand new video piece of the show, making it attractive for its bar/arcades target market.
They didn’t have any video pieces, but they did have a few new redemption games and a merchandiser to replace KeyMaster with.
The star of this booth was certainly Angry Birds Coin Crash, which was also being played the few times I stopped by. I don’t really pay attention to coin pushers, but seeing it make the coin towers and watching them crash down is cool. The company also had their Slam ‘N Jam Ultra basketball machine, Pearl Fishery 2p, Virtual Rabbids, Toy Frenzy, and a Hyper Pitch. Sadly, no Outnumbered.
Raw Thrills/Play Mechanix
This big booth had two new pieces that I’ve discussed before: Minecraft Dungeons Arcade and King Kong of Skull Island VR. The videos below get into more detail around these, so I won’t repeat myself, but the booth also had a variety of other RT pieces we’d seen in the past, including Nitro Trucks. I kept hearing that there were “no new drivers at the show,” although technically Nitro Trucks fits that bill since it was short-changed by the pandemic and the full release happened last summer, after the last Amusement Expo. I found out afterwards that they had the non-ticket/amusement mode of Bust-A-Move Frenzy going on. I missed filming that entirely, so throw it on the pile of “things to film at IAAPA 2021.”
Really Big Crane Co.
While I don’t pay much attention to crane machines, they had the latest version of their Zombie Jam video basketball machine on hand, and it looked better than when we saw it last year, with more complete software and smoother graphics. It can be seen briefly near the end of the booth’s video at the top.
Sega filled out their booth space nicely, although if you were looking for something new-new, I think they’re keeping that powder dry for IAAPA. As seen in the booth’s video at the top, they did have House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn, ATV Slam, and Mario & Sonic Olympics. I have to imagine that Mission: Impossible is a bit large to be handling right now, but I’m sure we’ll see it, Jet Blaster, and some other new games at IAAPA.
Stern had a great-looking booth, packed with their latest stuff including 4x The Mandalorian (3 Pros, 1 Premium), a Led Zepplin, Avengers Infinity Quest, and more. I enjoyed The Mandalorian, it has a much better flow than Star Wars 2018 does.
By what I saw, no one else had pinball at their booth, so Stern dominated here (although they always do, given how many titles they bring).
Jet Pong was the big star of this booth, although they had plenty of air hockey to enjoy too. If Jet Pong sounds unfamiliar to you, I recorded a very early version of the concept back in 2015, but what they had here looked completely different and arcade-ready. Unfortunately, it’s another that I missed out on filming.
They had one game to play, and that was Vader Immortal Lightsaber Dojo. I didn’t get a chance to play it, but the employee made it look easy. I’m sure he has tons of practice though 😛 Graphically this one looks really nice.
They had a packed booth with several new redemption pieces (as shown at the video at the top); Unfortunately nothing new in video. But, we recently heard about Sega carrying their Jet Blaster game and I’ve been told to expect news on Asphalt 9 DX Arcade “very soon” (which will also fill out the new driver space).
Overall, it was a good show. My only regrets were screwing up on my cameras (I’m ordering a new long-life battery soon, have a new phone on order for back-up camera, and will triple-check that I have the right tripod set up before going to IAAPA) and only being able to be there for one day, so I missed some things in my rush. Still, I think the industry is on a good track to bounce back, but we’ll have to see how the momentum goes into IAAPA and beyond all of the production/shipping issues right now.
Hawt Pink Club
CAUTION – THE FOLLOWING CONTENT IS NSFW. IF THIS IS OFFENSIVE TO YOU, STOP READING HERE, BUT THANKS FOR READING THE ABOVE!
You’ve been warned…also note that most links below will also take you to NSFW content of varied degrees.
Ok, so I briefly covered this adult gaming company on a brief Twitter thread, but not everyone read that. This European company is using an exA-Arcadia compatible board that looks just like the exA, but it’s pink. It also uses pink carts (the ones I saw were development carts, so were slightly purple). The system is interchangeable with regular exA carts, so one could run Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ on one, no problem.
If you’re wondering “who is this for,” then the easy answer is strip clubs and other adult venues. Given that there’s already nudity going on there, this allows such venues to grab something that can work for their customers. Adult games have been done in the past and not just for the Japanese market, but I don’t think that anyone was particularly successful in that regard as they didn’t seem to figure out how to approach it. Some of the games are extremely graphic in terms of both nudity and violence, so that will mean that those games won’t end up in non-adult places, but “clean” versions of some games were mentioned as being a possibility, making them easy crossovers for future exA releases. As you can see here, the menu system is a rebadged exA menu:
For these games, a proper arcade setup wasn’t available, so it was played using a Neo Geo AES gamepad. It should be noted that if you were to take out or ignore all the adult stuff, these are very competent games – each one plays smoothly for its genre, enough that people will enjoy the clean versions just fine (where clean is possible). I admit that I have no clue how these compare to adult games on consoles or the web, so I am just judging them based on what I played and how they felt as games.
Bad Ass Babes – This was the star game of the four that I played; It’s a tongue-in-cheek game that has an indie film behind it, but it feels very much like a late 80’s/early 90s game, but in HD. While there is a bit of nudity, it doesn’t get quite on the same level as a couple of the other titles I’ll discuss. The gameplay behind this one feels like they took a little bit of NARC (it gets fairly gory at points) and mixed it in with some Guardians of the Hood and PitFighter…it was a little surreal to be playing a beat ’em up like this that had all digitized character sprites instead of 3D models. Each girl you can play as has their own move set and it even has a deeper strategy behind it with combo buttons triggering different moves (ala SF2/most fighting games). This supports up to four players; Here’s a trailer but once again this is NSFW so click at your own discretion. This game will be available this month.
Rumble Storm – This one is a shoot ’em up designed by someone with a love of Toaplan shooters of old, and it feels exactly like that, great music included. This is one that should be able to have a clean version, as the dirty stuff only takes place in cutscenes. It was a little surprising to see how sexually graphic the game-over scene was(showing a lengthy animated internal penetration sequence) since the other scenes didn’t really indicate it would ‘go there.’ The voice-overs were in Japanese but the text was in English, not sure if there will be English VOs for the final.
Strip Fighter 5 Abnormal Edition – As you might guess from the name on this one, it’s a fighting game, but again, feels a lot like Super Street Fighter II, aside from the boobs and the stripping. It has a decent-sized roster of characters in case you find variety important, although I cannot recall if any exclusive new characters were mentioned for it or not. I also think this has some graphic cutscenes, although I cannot remember for sure.
Shakuga: The Excommunication – Now for the most graphic of the bunch, Shakuga. Not sure how to describe this one without getting really graphic, but you’ve already been warned.
This one plays a lot like Splatterhouse, although it’s far smoother and better animated than I ever remember that being. This one is super gory, but apart from showing deformed naked women monsters, the player can grab them and perform sex acts on them in different positions, with it even showing a side view of the penetration. This is done for extra points, and the player does things like rip their heads off and throw them when he’s done. There are weapons that you can grab to give yourself an advantage, such as a giant meat cleaver, otherwise, most combat is hands & feet. There is a meter that you collect objects for, although I can’t recall what it did exactly. There’s no way to do a clean version of this game as the sex & gore are just too integrated into it all.
So that’s Hawt Pink Club for now. It should be interesting to see how this takes to the market, particularly since we haven’t seen anyone really give it a try in the modern age.