If you follow arcades to any degree then you know who Taito is – even if you don’t then you should at least know Space Invaders or Arkanoid (if it’s still a no, then I can’t help you). Their video arcade output has diminished in recent years although it hasn’t completely evaporated, the company showing off OnPoint at IAAPA 2022 (at the UNIS booth) and licensing out Ice Cold Beer & Zeke’s Peak as mentioned the other day.
With JAEPO 2023 about to start in a few weeks, the company has launched a show promo page to preview what they will have in store, with only one regular video arcade game making an appearance at this point, Music Diver (previously mentioned here). I don’t know that the chances for it getting a wide overseas release are very high, and they could always unveil another arcade piece, although given the size of the booth that seems unlikely. The official page for Music Diver can be found here.
One big part of said booth will be a series of small scale attractions that they have branded X-Station. The X seems to stand for eXtended, as in XR, or “eXtended Reality” concepts which encompass both Virtual and Mixed Reality. This is where it can get slightly confusing, as on one hand they’re showing something like the the Var Box (a VR arcade station) and on the other they have the Cube which deals with interactive projection mapped surfaces. The official site for the X-Station shows how varied these experiences can be, with two in particular getting a special showcase at the upcoming JAEPO’23 tradeshow, Treasure Explorer & Space Cube, both of which are for the Cube system.
No, not the movie from years ago but a system that can handle projection mapping up to four walls and the floor (as far as I can tell – the trailers below do appear to show an enclosed room during gameplay), depending upon the game. While this is not an arcade machine, it does fit in with the small-scale attraction space that has been growing popularity among FECs all across the planet; One that comes to mind in how it operates is the QBix system by Inowize which recently launched at IAAPA’22. Taito also has a projection mapped version of Arkanoid that they already offer as a part of this, where the players themselves act as the paddles. Seeing how it works on Space Cube, I wonder if they might resurrect Space Gun for it, as it would make a great fit.
The first one we’ll look at is designed like a dark ride, presenting a game where you are seeming to traverse and underground environment in a minecart. That said, it does not use a motion seat or base, although the way the game moves on the projected walls and how this video is edited, it creates an illusion that there is movement. Both this and Space Cube use wireless gun controllers, from a glance they appear to be modified VR gyro controllers. The official page for this one can be found here.
Where Treasure Explorer is seated, this one has players standing, each facing their own wall and playing a variation of Space Invaders – or perhaps this is considered to be a sequel as on the official page for this one, it mentions a copyright date of 1978, the year Space Invaders came out.
Could either of these see a wider release? It’s always hard to say but as FECs look for content that stands out from the norm, I do imagine it as a possibility. The issue would be Taito’s distribution, as they don’t have any offices in North America (that I’m aware of) so generally work through those who do, like UNIS.
I also have said before that I think that MXR concepts can offer more value than VR ones for our space as there are no expensive wearables to worry about. That factor alone tends to reduce the price on these both initially and in the long run on maintenance although I’ve yet to see some hard numbers on how they perform.