It’s almost been a week since the end IAAPA 2022, so it’s probably a good time for me to make a post about some of the news that came out of the event! It was great meeting a few of you at the show – my apologies on my voice. It’s still a little hoarse even more than a week later but not quite as bad as it was during the entire show. Also to my fellow Americans, Happy Thanksgiving!
In case you stumbled across this at random and have no clue what an “IAAPA” is, it’s a giant trade show that takes place annually in Orlando, FL and is focused on the amusement/arcade/theme park sectors of business. It’s essentially the e3 of the arcade industry, hence my interest in covering it but it’s been held for 100+ years at this point
Anyways, this IAAPA was certainly a lot more charged than 2021 – in part thanks to Europeans being able to attend this time but the other side came from more new products making an appearance. IAAPA’s attendance numbers were also pretty good – not as good as 2019 but still solid. Unfortunately, the industry isn’t quite out of the woods yet – inflation and parts production issues continue to concern everyone, limiting at times how many units can be made of any given game.
New Game Announcements
In alphabetical order and something that was NOT at IAAPA 2021 or Amusement Expo 2022 (or, the game appeared in an entirely new cabinet at this show) – if there’s a hyperlink, it’ll take you to a video of said game but I am not done with my videos as of this writing so many of these will have videos posted soon. I have some additional thoughts on most of these games to share at the bottom. If I missed anything, it’s accidental – please let me know in the comments and I’ll correct it!
Bond 007 (Stern Pinball)
Carnival Cups Street (Touch Magix)
Gold & Mace (Boxblaster VR)
Guns ‘N Roses: Not In This Lifetime (Jersey Jack Pinball)
Hawt Pink Club Cabinet w/Bad Ass Babes Kiss
Playbox 4-player (Playmind)
Spongebob VR Coaster (Rilix)
Synth Riders (VRsenal)
Toy Story 4 (Jersey Jack Pinball)
Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride Ultra HD (LAI Games)
Warlords Remake (Atari/Retro Arcade Remakes)
For those who may not frequently read the site, I don’t generally spend a lot of time/focus on ticket redemption games. In part its’ because they’ve never been my thing but the other part is that they tend to do just fine on their own – signal boost or not, they’ll usually make plenty of money. Still, I know many out there like the genre so here’s some coverage on it; If it’s a redemption game with a video screen, I call those “videmption.”
Allstars Basketball (Sega Amusements)
Avengers Infinity Stone Challenge (Andamiro USA)
Bop It! (Sega Amusements)
Big Ticket Drop (BayTek)
Carnival Wheel (Team Play)
Cosmic Digger (UNIS)
Dodgeball Arena (ICE)
Dragon Treasure (Coastal)
Emoji Roller (UNIS)
Emoji Party (UNIS)
FGTeeV: Out of Time (LAI Games)
MVP Basketball (Smart)
Over The Edge (UNIS)
Pac-Man Baller (Bandai Namco)
Pixel air hockey (WIK)
Power Puck Fever (UNIS)
Rick & Morty: Blipz ‘N Chitz (LAI Games)
Road Trip (Coastal)
Roll ‘N Jump (Wik)
Shooting Madness (JET)
Slide Up (Coastal)
Sync Pong (Komuse/Sega)
The Hand (UNIS)
Wheel of Fun (Coastal)
Work Zone (UNIS)
World Football Tour (ICE)
Larger Scale Attractions (VR/MXR)
This stuff may or may not be suitable for a typical arcade, although most of the time it is the latter. Much of this is geared towards Family Entertainment Centers (FECs) and theme parks. Sometimes it may just be something cool, like the He-Man Vs. Skeletor laser tag experience pictured above.
Augmented Reality Darts (501 Fun/Sega)
F1 Racer (Unsure of the company and the exact product name but it was quite impressive)
FlashPads (Battle Company)
Ghostbusters VR Academy (Hologate)
Limitless VR (Creative Works)
Sisyfox ball game (Sisyfox)
Zombie game on Hyperdeck
Here are my thoughts about the games that I played; Unfortunately with my voice/how I was feeling and not finding a lot of VR booths with wipes, I decided to err on the side of caution and not do VR stuff, which means my thoughts there will be limited. Otherwise, I’m going to be as honest and fair as I can be in my assessment here of these games but certainly my opinion will differ from everyone else and that’s ok. 😉
Also, please keep in mind that I do reserve final judgment on games for their final form release. I see a lot of people seeing a game that’s still six months out making said judgment and declaring that a game sucks or whatever – just chill. There’s room for improvement in these cases, which is also why I will be sharing some negative thoughts along with the positive ones – in the hope that they do see improvement if needed.
I’m just going to opine on products through the M’s; I’ll save the rest for part #2. Otherwise I won’t finish this until next week 😛
Sega’s take on the video basketball game was sleek and fun. As with most of these, you play through different rounds, although Sega’s has six game modes you can come back to, which is a nice touch for replay value. I still think this would would be better if if featured a bunch of Sega characters (Sonic comes with a licensing fee, weirdly enough, but other Sega characters shouldn’t)
Arcana Heart 3
This was still an early build, not allowing for 1p only. I know nothing about the series, except that all of the fighters are anime girls, but there is an interesting alchemy mechanic that it has where you can enhance your character depending on which art you pick. Unfortunately without some kind of instruction sheet to explain that all, I was just left to mashing buttons or trying typical combos and hoping they worked. This will be out next year.
They didn’t bring a new game to the show but are worth mentioning for the incorporation of Scorbit into their games, giving them a way to compete against Stern’s Insider Connected.
Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade VR
This was very popular as A9 always has been and it seemed to be satisfying for people. The second screen did seem pointless to me since you can’t see it with the HMD on, and I already imagine that this will be a very pricey game so seems like it’d be fine to not include that. The addition of a new chase mode was a great idea and something I’ll have to try out the next time I come across the game; This is still one of the best looking video games on the market
Astro Ninja Man EXA
A simple but kind of addicting shoot ’em up that I wasn’t crazy about when I first saw it but became a fan after playing it. No, the graphics aren’t amazeballs or anything but for an 80s style NES shmup, that plus the music = lots of fun. The arcade version was done by the same guy who did the Gimmick remaster on exA.
One person at the show said that this was the sleeper hit of IAAPA, although I guess I wasn’t thinking of it like that because I saw it before (I want to say I first saw it at IAAPA 2018, although the software was rather crude at the time). I didn’t give it a spin but there is always a line for this at any show – it was enough that Barron had to use a virtual queue app to manage use. It’s always a guarantee to elicit screams or shouts when the user suddenly head dives into a canyon…I just don’t know of any arcade out there save a major FEC that could have an attendant around to constantly manage it. Still, it’s a great example of the kind of experience/gaming you can’t replicate at home.
Bond 007 (Stern Pinball)
For some reason, I was told to stop filming this because “we are not allowing streaming.” I wasn’t streaming though(have you seen the data/wifi access in the convention center? lol), just filming for later use, so it seems like there was some misunderstanding there. While I get that licensors can be jerks (as is the YouTube “algorithm”), almost everything in our industry is licensed these days and the only place this is a problem is with Stern Pinball, so I don’t entirely get it. It feels like an exclusive club – if you’re friends with the right people at Stern, then you can film or stream but if not, too bad. Just kind of rubs me the wrong way. Anyways, this game is rather bland for something that costs $7000 on the base Pro model. Maybe it’s flashier when you’re in a dark bar or arcade but what I played was ok, nothing extraordinary – I didn’t feel like I was Sean Connery’s Bond, like you’re supposed to feel when playing this kind of game but perhaps I didn’t give it enough play. The flow didn’t feel cheap though and there is one fun shot with the 3rd flipper and that ramp, when you can land it. Otherwise, the Premium, as usual, is the way to go; I also asked about the 60th anniversary version and it’s apparently a completely different game which will feature all of the Bonds. I look forward to seeing that to compare – if Stern brings it to a show (they often don’t with LEs).
You don’t have to be a redemption fan to notice when there’s a piece around that’s getting all the buzz and Bop It! would take the cake. The concept of the toy is a natural to translate to arcades in a better way than some board games that have made the same transition. I imagine this colorful piece will be a big hit out there in the redemption space.
BoxBlitX1 & Hit The Green
I saw Hit The Green at Amusement Expo but it has apparently been such a “hit” for Kalkomat that they now have the game in three flavors, one of which being the BoxBlitX. This appears to have been made more for gyms/fitness centers than arcades, sporting a touchscreen interface where you can pick from different challenges (Freestyle mode, 3 minute round, 100 punch high intensity, & more). Still, if they put a coin acceptor on it, I could see it doing well in the right place – but you still have two other versions of HtG to go for which are made for the arcade. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a kickboxing game where you punch/kick the targets lit in green, avoiding the ones in red. Simple concept but a cool variation on the boxing machine.
This is a new videmption game by Slim Luke Games (creator of Bumper as discussed below) where this would fit the definition of “app-to-arcade.” Very simple gameplay and graphics, where you control a black line that grows straight into the air. Your goal is to hit the button when the height is just right, as that will stop it and the line falls forward. If it’s too short, your guy falls into the abyss, too far and same thing – you’re aiming at a particular target (a black ledge with a red line inside it) to move forward until you reach the treasure chest. It won’t blow your socks off graphically but it’s a fun skill-based game.
I’ve been surprised by the response I’ve seen to this one on social media, as I wasn’t really expecting people to ‘get hype’ for it but it was a nice thing to find at an off corner of the Coastal Amusements booth. Still, it was popular and often getting played. It’s like head-to-head Arkanoid – simple but fun. It’s in a metallic cocktail cabinet; the spinner controls work really well. If it’s available at a good price, I think it could find a great place on the market among smaller arcades and bars. Oddly, this is not listed on the Coastal website yet, so will have to wait and see.
Carnival Cups Crane
I’m not a crane/claw guy either, but I know that there have been some cranes with a display out there. I’m not aware of any really integrating a game into it though, like Carnival Cups does. There are two versions – one where you can play for tickets if the claw grab fails to reward you or you can play for additional chances on the claw. It’s a nice idea to spice up the normally boring claw scene (sorry claw fans, I just changing the name/art/lights isn’t very exciting to me). It’s also worth noting that Touch Magix debuted a street version of the regular Carnival Cups game at the show. Same concept as the big videmption piece, just smaller.
One thing I suppose you could say I’m jealous about when it comes to redemption is it seems like you see more attempts at innovating or refreshing old ideas in this part of the industry and Carnival Wheel fits that bill. I’ve already seen this one out there on location and it’s particularly impressive when multiple units are found together. Will it dethrone the Queen Elizabeth II of redemption, Big Bass Wheel? Hard to say, but it certainly comes with more tech & aesthetic “razzle dazzle” (which is should, for the price).
Every time I tried to play this was at the show opening but they must not have set it to free play or something as it wouldn’t let me play when I would press start. So I just had to observe people trying it out later, where it was often being played so I didn’t get a chance to jump on. It looks to play just like Namco’s old Rapid River does, playing best when you’re with a friend. The graphics aren’t anything to go crazy about but they do the job; The nicest touch would be the waterfall effect built into the back of the seat, a nice hat/tip to Atari’s Toobin’ of old.
Crimson Katana EXA & DoDonPachi True Death EXA Label
This was the first time I’ve ever played either of these CAVE shmups and I enjoyed them. While I’m not a huge CAVE fan, I do find that I tend to enjoy their games. As has been mentioned before, they both serves as the definitive versions of each respective game although I don’t know that they are bringing new blood into the fold. That said, both of them feature easier game modes so that if a casual gamer does so happen to drop a coin into them, and doesn’t choose the harder modes, then they can get by without experiencing the game over screen after a few seconds. As fan service goes on these ones, you can’t go wrong.
Dead Heat Unleashed
It’s been an awful long time since I played the original Dead Heat so it’s hard to remember how that played other than I remember it dealing with local ghosts (i.e., the machine would record how everyone played in the game, then later integrate those “ghosts” into the game as “AI cars” that people would race against) and that it intentionally rubber banded the play to keep each race a nail-biter to the finish. This seems to keep some of that intact but it’s placed more of an emphasis on crowding up against other cars. They don’t blow up or anything (as I was told, the reason you don’t see Daytona USA-like damage on modern racers anymore is because car companies will not allow their precious vehicles to look smashed up, even digital recreations of them) but it will build your “Ultimate Heat” nitro gauge. Graphics this stands a head above Maximum Tune 5DX+ (no jaggies, yay!), particularly from the more realistic lighting engine; the sound is good, although not quite as good as NFS Heat Takedown; The races do seem to end abruptly but this might have been a show setting or they just haven’t come up with a more elaborate “Game Over” sequence yet. Also worth mentioning that the cabinet is not final yet – they even had two different versions of the cabinet there, if you looked close enough. Overall though, what I played was fun, wouldn’t mind seeing slightly longer races although that’s more of a MaxiTune thing than a casual racer one..
This was a very popular piece every time I walked by the Coastal booth but I didn’t play it. It’s basically a 4-player Ice Man with dinosaurs instead of zombies and fortunately it also has a solid framerate (unlike the ol’ Ice Man). I could see this taking Ice Man’s crown from it as dinosaurs > zombies when it comes to earnings.
The most noticable thing about this ball throwing redemption game is that it comes in a huge cabinet – even the standard version is kind of massive. It seemed popular, playing up the competitive nature of dodgeball (red team vs. blue), although it’s not quite the same when you’re worried about being hit with a big rubber ball.
Donut Dodo Do!
Here’s another game that intentionally looks like a classic game but the surprising thing is that this mix of Popeye, Burgertime, Mappy, Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong feels like it dropped right out of 1983. Keep in mind that it is an early build – not only will the sideart change for the final release, it’s adding a new girl chef character and 2p support. The object of each level is to simply grab all of the donuts while avoiding deadly enemies, but doing so without dying is easier said than done. Launching next year.
Drone Racing Genesis
I like the concept; The idea of racing with drones is fresh but I hope that the controls are better calibrated for the final release. It just seemed like there wasn’t a lot of grey area between up and down so some movements are more sudden than subtle. The Sega guys seemed able to handle it just fine as they have the practice, but I know myself and others found it difficult even after a few plays. Graphically I also think it looks great – not at all “like a smartphone game” like some of the armchair QBs online were saying although obviously it’s not competing with some multi-million dollar, AAA console production either. The most impressive thing about the cabinet are the LED animations – you have to stop and watch them but they are the best of any cabinet I saw at the show.
I’ve debated about this on YouTube a bit but those who are calling the new exA cab “an Arcade 1up” simply just don’t know what you’re talking about. Granted I know I have my biases too, but I did take a few moments to really look at the cabinet and tried to look it over as objectively as I could. I would have no problem with putting one in my arcade. In fact, I’d be happy to sell off or trade my existing FunGlo cab for an Arc-01. The ability to swap the monitor from horizontal to vertical is a nice touch and the games all looked sharp on the displays (way ahead of any A1up I’ve ever seen; same goes for the sound). The control panel feels like real arcade CP, so I’m guessing that some people just are so used to seeing cabinets plastered with LEDs that they find it weird to not have them? One thing that might not have been obvious from my video is that they did have placards on some of the cabinets where art could be placed like a marquee; I wouldn’t mind seeing a kind of LED spotlight for those (or having LED lighting integrated on the sides of the placards) but I do understand that exA isn’t really looking to do options or raising costs. One thing is that this is perhaps the most cost-competitive arcade product of the show ($5-6k range) and where so many games are pushing $12k, $20k or $30k, it’s great to have something that I don’t have to pull a giant loan to get.
Fast & Furious Arcade
If you are familiar with Cruis’n Blast or the previous FnF games then there isn’t a massive difference here, although changing it from street races to missions feels much more “on brand” with the FnF franchise as I understand it (I haven’t seen an FnF movie since the 2nd one but I’m familiar with how over-the-top the series has become through cultural osmosis). The graphics on this are quite good and I think some won’t give it credit for driving solid 60fps gameplay across two 4K displays. Yeah, the 2nd display does feel kind of un-needed however, when you’re sitting at the game, it does make for an immersive feeling that I’d rather have than a donning a VR headset. As mentioned online before, the quad setup of FnFs at the show was quite impressive to see in person. The motion seemed fine to me, particularly in that it wasn’t going wild or moving in a way that it shouldn’t have.
BTW – I will soon be doing a contest to raffle away a copy of Cruis’n Blast on Switch, signed by Eugene Jarvis. I’ve just been waiting for my voice to come back to announce the rules.
This VR game brings a sport back to arcades that has been bizarrely lacking for many years – American Football. Unfortunately it seems like our industry has decided that if you can’t do NFL Blitz then you can’t do any football but fortunately VRStudios has thought otherwise with this piece that puts you into the role of a quarterback. My only gripe here is the same with all of these VR cabs I saw at the show where the VR headset – one of, if not the most expensive parts of the whole setup – can easily be dropped/slammed/banged on the floor. I get that having a gantry with retractable cables is a huge expense but so is needing to replace the HMD from constant impact damage. Years of having this abuse handed out to my light-guns makes me really cringe at the thought. Still, the game itself looks like fun and shows that you don’t necessarily need to have the NFL license to make a football game work.
I came across this at random while wandering the aisles, but it’s a neat idea that reminds me of an LED light floor that I talked about on the site here back in 2008 or so. It’s a grid of LED tiles that can be stepped/stomped on, so players can enjoy a variety of game types, from “snake dodging” to “maze walking” or “light stomping” attraction for 1-4 players. Also more for FECs than small arcades, but FECs still do count around here, even though some of you vehemently disagree with me on that.
Game of 1000 Boxes
I don’t have the video of this edited yet but just had to mention how impressive this one is – imagine an LED wall the size of a couple of houses (next to each other). This thing is huge – so certainly not for any arcade (or most FECs) that I can think of. Instead, it’s more of a theme park thing, allowing such parks to do game shows.
Easiest way to describe this is a poor man’s Halo:FR, but I do give them credit for trying out a few gameplay ideas that Halo doesn’t do. One is the Time Crisis 3 mechanic of switching weapons, which is done well. The graphics are solid – not on par with Halo:FR but I’ve certainly seen much worse so I’d give this a B in that regard. The voice acting is the kind of cringe you might expect (so bad it’s kinda good) and I can’t remember the story. The cabinet and the pistols are rather nice; I’ll have a video of this one up soon. If they can land at a below-10k price then I could see a few spots out there grabbing one.
Ghostbusters VR Academy
I am a big Ghostbusters fan but unfortunately missed out on playing this one due to aforementioned issues (that and it’s always a long wait on Hologate stuff). It’s a great idea so I could see it doing very well for Hologate and VR in general. It’s still something that’s just for FECs and not an arcade like mine, but I like how they have two “flavors” of the academy at use – one is training in the Ecto-1 on a motion seat simulator; The other is the standard Hologate arena where you are part of a Ghostbuster team, zapping ghosts. Nice touch for them to put a slimer prop into one of the seated units (I’m guessing there was a technical issue with the seat, so they did that to make it look like a big prop). Whether either experience lives up to the hype though, I don’t know. On the monitors the graphics looked quite good, at least.
Guns N’ Roses Pinball
It’s a nice looking game, particularly with the LED lightshow, that I’m sure makes true GnR fans happy but with the only available model costing $11k, it’s aimed more at collectors than locations. I’d like to hear if this is doing substantially better than other pins in it’s price class though (I have a hunch).
Halo: Fireteam Raven Assault Model
I’m going to push ahead in calling this the Assault Model as I think that fits much better here than “4-player tethered.” I hadn’t realized at first that the Super Deluxe model, which came out back in 2018, has been discontinued, although given the parts/inflation crisis going on out there, it makes sense to come up with a cabinet that is far easier and cheaper to produce. The guns are really the star here and it is a great touch to see them replicating the Assault Rifles from the game. The graphics also look fantastic on the 85″ 4KTV – my only gripe with this one is the price is still north of $20k, from what I’ve been told by a distro. There is a 2p model in the works though, so maybe that’ll be easier for me to accept when it shows up next year; This model is also supposed to start shipping in April.
Hawt Pink Club
There was one cabinet that might have gone overlooked by many at the show because it wasn’t front & center, but found hiding behind a bunch of other cabinets. That was the first NSFW adult cabinet to grace IAAPA possibly ever (admittedly I don’t know if any of the raunchy video arcade games from the 80s/90s ever made an appearance at the show). Despite it being somewhat hidden (to prevent kids/minors from seeing), it was actually one of the most popular cabinets at the exA-Arcadia booth. It uses the same form factor as the ARC-01, just with different art and of course sporting two very adult games, Bad Ass Babes Kiss and Rumble Storm X. I didn’t see anyone playing RSX, but I did see quite a few guys – some operators but also several guys from other manufacturers – heading over to check out BABK. On BABK, it’s a tongue-in-cheek beat ’em up that uses digitized sprites – not terribly far off from stuff like NARC or the never released Judge Dredd game. No, this likely won’t find it’s way into any FEC ever but for any over 21 adult venue, it’s filling in a gap where there’s zero competition.
Ice Cold Beer & Warlords (Taito/Retro Arcade Remakes)
This game was supposed to launch this past summer but it didn’t thanks to parts issues. Several manufacturers I talked to mentioned this curse, in that to make anything in this industry you can’t go piece meal – you need to buy all of the materials and parts for the entire production run of your machines (and pay for it up front) before it’s a go. So if you have all but one part, that means you don’t hit production. As far as I could tell, this licensed remake is ready to go but they also had another nice surprise at the booth – they’re remaking Atari’s 1980 Warlords on FPGA and are giving it a new cabinet to boot. Even better is the cabinet supports a 25″ CRT but also supports LCD if you don’t have a 25″ tube lying around.
I had stopped paying attention to the beer pong games which were all the rage several years ago (which seemed to come and go as quick as a “viral” video) so finding out about this new variation on the idea piqued some interest. Instead of beer pong it’s using such pong ball bouncing skills to hit basketball hoops instead of cups. I’d almost call that rad.
Ever since this game was announced I’ve been looking forward to it as I’m a big fan of beat ’em ups. The PC demo was fun but was still early; The arcade version I played was also a demo that is still going through a polishing process. Still, it was plenty playable – it feels a lot like the 2008 beat ’em up Oriental Legend 2…but if you’re not familiar with that obscurity, I’d saw the Capcom D&D brawlers. But doing stick/button combos, you pull off fighter like moves, which gives the game a bit more depth and makes it more exciting than just mashing the same button over and over again. It’ll just be nice to have a tutorial so that I know what I’m doing, as the game also doesn’t have it’s instruction sheets yet. I look forward to playing the final version (with plenty more game polish, such as maybe reducing the number of hits some enemies need, as a few fodder guys felt a little damage spongey).
Stay tuned for Part #2 for thoughts on the rest – until then, comment below on how you felt about these games, and whether or not you agree or disagree on what I said above.