Welcome to the first Newsbytes of 2023, one that I had meant to post a couple of weeks ago but I just didn’t find enough to pad it out at first – then I became too occupied with moving equipment from my now closed location to the open one. Over that time then a lot of quick stuff popped up, making this a rather large Newsbytes.
If you’re new and unfamiliar with this series of posts, they come along most weekends and gather quick pieces of news from around the video arcade and pinball machine world. Let’s get to it:
Arcade Belgium EAG 2023 Videos
Our friends at Arcade Belgium attended EAG (as they usually do) and now they’ve posted various videos of the games that were there. I won’t share them all since that will take up a lot of space here, so you can visit them on YouTube to check them all out.
Sega also posted this showcase of the various products at their booth:
Also from EAG was the debut of Bandai Namco’s Pac-Man Roller. Like Pac-Man Baller, they are working with Polish manufacturer Wik, retooling one of their alley bowlers (which was at IAAPA ’22) with the Pac-Man theme and branding. I saw the non-branded Wik version at IAAPA and the way it used the LED panels was impressive. Unless it launches before Amusement Expo, then I imagine that event will be the first time we get to see it here.
Pac-Man Roller and Pac-Man Pinger have appeared at EAG Expo 2023 alongside their predecessor from 2022, Pac-Man Baller.
Roller was previously described as an alley game; we can now see it is of the Skee-Ball-esque variety, featuring animated panels and multicolor lights. pic.twitter.com/y4kLg14Ffu
— Daily Pac-Man (@DailyPacMan) January 14, 2023
With the Japan Amusement Expo (known as JAEPO) coming up fast, various Japanese companies are starting to post/tease about what they will have at the show. I’ve been told that this will be the last JAEPO but there is movement on coming up with a replacement show – this is the first time that JAEPO will hold an in-person event since 2020. Even though things have changed drastically since then, there are new products that will be shown, so here are a few headlines related to that [thanks to Ted and Blake for sharing various related tweets and links]:
Taito’s Booth revealed – I forgot to mention Street Fighter 6 Type Arcade in that article, however, it seems it might not be showing up.
Bandai Namco’s Game Line-up – Dead Heat Unleashed Will Be Exhibited – which is interesting but it mentions “Overseas” so they’re just showing it off. I’ve heard that another Namco racer will debut there (likely the big surprise mentioned on the page 😉 ) so fans will likely be paying more attention to that anyways.
exA-Arcadia will be there too although due to JAIA member rules, the name is under their distributor Eikoh, which is booth A-8. They will be showing off all of their released games plus some new ones(overall, more than what they brought to IAAPA’22), with this being the first time many in the industry there will have a chance to play them.
Skyrocketing Electrical Costs Threaten The UK Arcade Business
Putting a damper on the good news coming out of EAG is something that I’ve been thinking of doing a video about as well as a longer blog post – the reality of enormous electrical bills threatening the existence of high-power -draw businesses like arcades. This already has caused some closures in the UK; One place called Arcade Hub did end up closing before finding a way to re-open. As the story points out, the main alternative to closing when your bill has gone up 1,000% over the year previous is operating at vastly reduced hours. It’s not just the UK where this is a giant issue, it’s pretty much everywhere but I know Japan is also seeing a negative effect from the same problem, with rates set to go up by 50% in April.
When the power goes out for an extended period of time at my arcade, it’s always frustrating. Other stores can still get some sales done by using paper/pen & cash, but for me, there’s little I have that can work without electricity – a bulk vending machine and a coin orbiter. But of course those aren’t draws and no one really sticks around an arcade when the power is out anyways.
You might be able to shave off some costs here and there by switching some lights to LEDs or perhaps changing up the lighting scheme in a place to reduce the number of lights being used but the games themselves in most cases will still be your main draw. Pinball and redemption games can get LED conversions although I’m not sure how many of those are being used there (I know they have something called fruit machines which tend to have a lot of lights but I don’t know much about them). Overall, I would be surprised if that kind of measure, which isn’t free to switch over on, would save a ton of money.
We haven’t seen jumps nearly this bad in the US as of yet, although we’ve still seen increases so I’ve done things like shut off games in the back until there is someone interested in playing them. I do think that some of these UK arcades could try something like that (I know some already have, same in Japan) – as long as there is signage, people might understand why some games could be off and they could still play them if they ask. But that’s imperfect too. Ultimately arcades can play with the fringes to try and save a few bucks but the political situations have to change or improve when it comes to utilities for the base costs to start dropping…or that fusion breakthrough has to become commercialized and start producing power.
What are your thoughts – is there anything you as an operator has done to reduce this burden?
UNIS Uploads Various Videos Of Their Current Product Line-up
Moving on from EAG but keeping it sort of related, UNIS has posted a number of videos that cover pretty much everything that they brought to IAAPA & EAG – too many to post here, although a lot of it is redemption or crane related that I don’t really focus on anyways. Here’s a trailer for Sailor’s Quest VR and a showcase of Star Crusader 2, a game that I didn’t spend enough time checking out to get a good feel for it. Visit their YouTube page here.
TRON 3 Seems To Move Forward
Way back when Disney produced TRON Legacy, I spoke about it often on the blog thanks to the connection the films have to arcades – so naturally I’m interested in TRON 3. That said, it’s been teased for ages now (including in some videos produced around the time Legacy came out) and nothing came of it as Disney put all of their eggs into the Star Wars and Marvel baskets. Now that both of those have been exhausted – it seems like interest in those is waning, at least from where it was at their peaks – it looks like they are ready to do some other things once again. Although as a TRON fan, I can’t say I’m crazy about the franchise getting a sequel once every decade or three removed.
The movie, called Tron: Ares, will reportedly be directed by Joachim Rønning, who's best known for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. https://t.co/RIRMhmCA3p pic.twitter.com/1SVE7JfLwO
— IGN (@IGN) January 19, 2023
I don’t have a strong opinion on Jared Leto since I’ve never watched a film he’s in – thus my only impression of him is from Morbius memes. :O I also haven’t seen the two films that this director is best known for so I don’t know what to expect there. I liked Garrett Hedlund as the lead in Legacy – some things about the story didn’t match my expectations from the original but it grew on me.
Is Leto supposed to be the new Flynn? The new Son of Flynn? Someone completely different? Will anyone from the original or Legacy be involved with this in a significant way? Will it have any connection to arcades at all? The Disney marketing hype machine did include some great stuff about arcades for Legacy, will they repeat any of that? Will it be an interesting and good story or another piece of forgettable Disney schlock? Lots of questions still but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Space Invaders Celebrates 45 Years; Taito 70
There are plenty of gaming anniversaries to celebrate in 2023, but there are two in particular that Taito is highlighting this year – the 70th anniversary of the existence of their brand & company; Plus the 45th anniversary of their seminal game, Space Invaders. If you click on those hyperlinks, it’ll take you to a special site for each. Granted, in 2028 is when they’ll probably do some big things for both but there’s no harm in highlighting them now.
What’s your favorite Taito game? What’s your favorite in the Space Invaders series?
Omen Of Sorrow Launches On Nesica 2
A new fighting game has landed on Taito’s Nesica 2 network called Omen Of Sorrow and because Round1USA has cabinets connected to that network, you can also play it in the US. This one looks quite sharp but whether or not it plays well you’ll have to judge for yourself by finding it somewhere and checking it out. The reviews for the console releases (the ones that have actually launched at this point) aren’t great though and I’m unsure if this has any significant changes from the PS4 or PC versions. The next best thing is this video of it in action although I haven’t watched enough yet to tell if it plays as well as it looks:
Closing a Second Location
As mentioned, I created some videos discussing the closure of my second location this week so in case you missed them, here you go. One thing to add however is that the influx of games already seems to be a big boost for my original location. As I write this, it’s been a crazy good Saturday for the end of January and while things are a bit cramped compared to where they were, the new games means that people have more to play. More games = more money generally speaking.
Some Pinball News
For those looking forward to Scooby-Doo!
It’s been quite a while since I’d noticed a ColorDMD release but perhaps I just didn’t catch new releases. Now, owners of the Waterworld pinball machine can enjoy it in color:
And since we’re talking pinball, here’s a new interview with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies discussing his love for the game:
How Did My Games Do In 2022?
For any operators out there, how did your games do last year? What were your top & bottom 5 games?
James “Buster” Corley Of Dave & Busters Passes Away At The Beginning Of The Year – He had some serious health issues stemming from a series of strokes and took his own life but don’t let that define who he was, as this former D&B employee can attest to.
Maximum Tune 5DX+ Gets An Update – I caught this the other day, didn’t have any troubles running it. Doesn’t sound like there were any drastic changes
Round1USA’s Receive Taito’s Music Diver – This is a Round1 exclusive everywhere, so many are perplexed by Taito showing it off at JAEPO
Lowes Getting In On Birthday Parties – With all that money that they generate, it’s no surprise that other retail businesses are looking for ways to jump on it
IGS IS Making An Endless Runner – I won’t be surprised to see this pop up on Western shores soonish
A New Trademark For The AM2 Logo Has Been Filed – Queue up the ‘Thinking’ emoji but I imagine we’ll find out why at JAEPO in a few weeks
Highlighting VR 360’s OMG VR Simulator – I saw this at IAAPA but didn’t realize what it was called
The New Super Mario Bros. Wii Arcade Game You’ve Never Heard Of Has Been Dumped Online – I remember reporting on this one but since it was Japan-only and a medal game, it wasn’t worth delving in any deep way
[Console] If You Still Have An Atari 2600, Then There Are A Bunch Of Brand New Games You Can Grab For It – My 30+ year old 2600jr. still works just fine. Can’t say the same for my 12ish year old Xbox 360 though.
That’s all for this weekend!