Welcome to Newsbytes, a semi-regular collection of arcade & pinball news items from around the world. This week has quite a few interesting stories, particularly when it comes to arcade history, so I hope you enjoy it. Note that I’ll be posting a final round-up/recap of Amusement Expo 2022 this coming week; It’s been delayed as I’ve been trying to finish the videos for it, but I’m down to the last one, which is kind of a recap + brief VR showcase. Well, that and Elden Ring has been distracting me 😛
Heavyweight Champ Footage
Getting information and footage of certain arcade games from the 1970s can sometimes feel like trying to find the end of the rainbow and encountering a leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end, as those titles may have been extremely rare or in some instance may never have reached production. That is particularly true of Japanese 70s games, some of which may never have reached American shores, and surviving examples in Japan are few and far between.
One of those elusive games is Sega’s Heavyweight Champ, a boxing game from 1976. While we’ve seen a photo of a real cabinet here and there, seeing a working copy in action has been like finding that aforementioned pot of gold. This week, a CBS News station in San Diego posted this archive footage of a Sega arcade from 1977 (I saw several tweets about this pop-up at the same time but here’s the one I saw first) where right at the beginning you see the “white whale” of Heavyweight Champ.
One other reason this game in particular is significant is because this is the first-known example of a 1v1 fighting game to exist – period. It also is remarkable for how large the characters were on the screen, as most games at that time used tiny sprites with little to no detail. Little did Sega know how popular this genre would become at the time; In case you’re wondering, no, this does not exist in emulation as it is that hard to find but also it was a TTL chip game, not a CPU-based one, so emulating games of that kind tends to extremely difficult, if not impossible.
The Ms. Pac-Man Saga – Now Pac-Mom
If you’ve been following the blog for a long while, then you know that we’ve occasionally covered the saga that is Ms. Pac-Man. To make a very long story short, the rights to the character were always divided between the company who came up with the Crazy Otto and then Ms. Pac-Man hack of Pac-Man, GCC, and Namco. That division went on for decades, until AtGames recently purchased those rights from Steve Golson at GCC and are holding onto them. Well, it seems that Namco has come up with some kind of solution to them not having the rights to that character, by creating “Pac-Mom” in the recent release of Pac-Land to Arcade Archives. This sad development is detailed here although I don’t imagine that arcade operators who still have a Ms. Pac-Man will be changing out their marquees any time soon…if ever.
The newly released Arcade Archives version of Pac-Land contains a few sprite changes
Ms. Pac-Man has been edited to resemble (or rather, be replaced by) Pac-Mom, the character seen in Pac-Man Museum+
Pac-Baby has seen edits to match her appearance in Pac-Man Museum+ as well pic.twitter.com/8QEP2rRGC6
— Daily Pac-Man (@DailyPacMan) April 9, 2022
Noisz Arc*Coda On Test In Japan
This was mentioned the other day, that the shmup/rhythm game combo Noisz Arc*Coda would be showing up on test at the Taito Hey in Japan. In a somewhat unusual move, they’ve been livestreaming the test to YouTube, although you’ll have to click on this link to watch it (embeds have been disabled). It’s also fairly long…this one I’m linking to is over 11 hours. With over 40 songs, this is the kind of game that should please fans of both genres, and it’s another title that will work for vertical monitor setups on the exA-Arcadia. Since I can’t embed it, here’s my footage of the game from AEI 2021:
If all goes well with the test then I imagine that it will be up for pre-order here soon. Until then, here’s the game page.
Polycade Now Selling Their PolyRetro Model
I caught this on LinkedIn, where a new cabinet for the Polycade was shown off at the NAMA Show in Chicago. The post states that these will sell for $2999 and can operate as F2P or Pay To Play cabinets, accepting coins, credit/debit and even Apple Pay/Google Pay. Polycade offers a selection of games that have been licensed for commercial use, although the games themselves have not been modified from their Steam counter parts.
Raw Thrills Releases New Mobile Game: QB Shootout
After teaming up with a company called Skillz to create Big Buck Hunter Marksman, Raw Thrills and Play Mechanix are expanding their selection of mobile gaming content with an NFL-licensed title called QB Shootout. I checked with RT and this is not related to the Tecmo Bowl arcade game that they’ve been working on for the past while. I will have to grab both Marksman and QB Shootout to report back on how they play.
The NFL, Skillz and Play Mechanix are proud to present NFL QB Shootout – a new, NFL-themed competitive mobile game! Quarterback your favorite NFL team to victory against players from around the world and win cash prizes!
— Raw Thrills (@rawthrills) April 7, 2022
Next From Homepin: This Is Spinal Tap
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Homepin, a new pinball manufacturer who I believe original started in Australia but is now based out of Taiwan. They have one pinball machine out on the market – Thunderbirds – and are currently in production for their next release, This Is Spinal Tap, based upon the mockumentary of the same name. A number of photos have been shared about the production of the game on their Factory Facebook page, and some additional details have also been shared on a thread on Pinside. Just note that these are not final-final pics yet, so things are likely to change, but if that theme sounds like fun to you, check out the official website here. Games will begin shipping out in May.
Pump It Up XX Finally Gets A New Update
It’s been quite a while since the game last received some new songs, but I know that fans are relieved that the teaser on April Fools Day wasn’t a joke:
The House of the Dead Remake Is Out Now
In case you didn’t grab it already – it’s available both digitally and physically. I’m going for the latter although I haven’t had a chance to stop by a store to pick it up yet. As I don’t have an original House of the Dead arcade machine, I won’t be able to do a side-by-side comparison, although I’ve seen a few people already beat me to the punch on that anyways, so oh well. I do have a Scarlet Dawn though, in case anyone cares (oddly enough, I’m seeing an uptick in views for The Walking Dead full game capture I did a while back and not the Scarlet Dawn one. Oh algorithms ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). If you’re feeling nostalgic over the original arcade, then thank Luke Morse for this:
New Discovery: Freddy Flames by Century Electronics
Tony Temple has a new piece out about an unreleased arcade game by a fairly obscure company known as Century Electronics. The game was called Freddy Flames and involved the player controlling a fire fighter putting out flames around a house. The game from the description and single photo of it in the background reminds one of Donkey Kong and Popeye. It seems the game did ok on test but not wildly so, and soon after Century closed their doors. Check out the full spread, here.
Finger Coaster Lives On With ROCO
I never gave Finger Coaster a try; it was a VR motion simulator where you would design your roller coaster track on a touchscreen first, then have to ride it in VR. They attended a few IAAPAs but I cannot recall the name of the company behind it so I am unsure if they are still around or not. Either way, the concept lives on with ROCO, as shown by this video. It appears to be the same thing, minus the VR headsets. I think that’s a bonus, as VR and motion don’t always mix well.
I Wish Modern Arcade Tradeshows Did Fun Things Like This (Mortal Kombat 3 related)
An Interview With Shigeki Toyama About His Time At Namco – There is some fantastic arcade history here
An Elden Ring Arcade Fighting Game In The Style Of Tekken? Yes Please – Yes, this is a mod
Namco’s New Logo Finally Rolls Out – The Arcade division is also using it