Since not everyone follows the site on Twitter or Discord, here’s a handy post to round up news from a trade show that just started in Japan, JAEPO. I had been hearing that this would be the last JAEPO event but it looks like there will be an even smaller version of it taking place this November. That said, it’s doesn’t have a lot of support yet so it will not feature the same kind of announcements that you’ll be getting today.
The event goes Friday & Saturday in Japan, with the Saturday side being open to the public. Some new announcements will be made then, so if there is anything that pops up after publishing, I’ll be sure to update this post. That said, there are some things that were on display in a private manner, meaning that only certain people got to see them for now and more will come later.
Here’s some local TV news coverage of the show, which features a number of games you’ll see discussed below.
IGN Japan coverage. It’s kind of amusing that they highlight the Western F&F here…checking IGN.com itself, I can’t find a mention of the game even though it’s been out for months now. Par for the course with Western gaming media but anyways, this video shows much more than that:
H/T to Ted on Discord for finding a lot of links/photos; And to those accounts in Japan sharing things direct from the floor.
Bandai Namco Amusements
Maximum Tune 7 – Let me address this at first – I was not the only one in the industry hearing from multiple sources that the 7th installment of WM Maximum Tune would debut here but if it did then it’s been super hush-hush. There are some games which are NOT being shown to the public nor the media, so there’s a chance that MT7 could be one of them. I did reach out to someone at Namco some weeks ago who sounded surprised by my question as he wasn’t aware of anything It is possible that they were going to show it, then changed their minds at the last moment or some other reason held it back. At the very least, it sounds like it is in development, although I am also wondering if this also might have been a miscommunication along the line, as Dead Heat Unleashed is at the show and that’s being worked on by the MT team.
Western Games – Speaking of that first, Bandai Namco has a division that imports games from the West and sells them to interested ops. Called Bandai Namco Technika, they have some of the latest Raw Thrills (Fast & Furious Arcade), Bandai Namco US (Dead Heat Unleashed), and other products there, although I don’t know how well/poor these games sell in Japan. There were also some signs around saying that you couldn’t purchase some of the games if you wanted to, but when there’s a will (cough*largepocketbook*cough), there’s a way. Image source
UPDATE: Kevin Williams points out that King Kong VR was the only VR product at the show. This is an interesting observation, given how hard the JP market was pushing for VR just a few years ago (Bandai Namco being among the principles with their Project i-CAN and Mario Kart VR setups). The few people I’ve recently spoken to from Japan about it seem to have cooled on the tech as well, with one JP exec who had raised millions for VR arcade startups only six years ago telling me: “…it’s highly anti social, takes up way too much space and is more of an attraction than a repeat engagement product” (quote from last year). To be fair, the space thing is one reason why many ops just aren’t interested in Western games in a general sense, but that’s not the only reason either. The JP market is trending harder towards prize and rhythm games and as one indicator of the latter we have:
The Idolm@ster Tours – It turns out that the mystery game wasn’t MT7 but this new rhythm game. I saw some US Bemani fans reacting to it (Eddie of BemaniStyle saying in essence that he liked the control scheme but didn’t care for the songs) but this is one that likely won’t find its way to the US in any official capacity, only as an import to Round1USA. The official site for this game is found here.
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX – On the market for a decade already, the online JP version of Mario Kart Arcade continues to get new content, with Waluigi and Bowser Jr. being added to the roster, and the game getting a new marquee. Image source.
Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Versus 2 Overboost – While this game doesn’t find its way out West, the series has been one of the best performing titles in Japan, so I’m sure fans are quite happy to see this:
UPDATE: I’d completely forgotten about the Kirby redemption game that exists in Japan – I don’t know if this has ever been tested out West but I’m sure it’d earn better than a comparable game without a major Nintendo character attached to it.
Located at the Eikoh booth, exA has been demonstrating every single in-production game plus some upcoming releases. These include Batsugun EXA Label, Donut Dodo Do!, Axel City 2, Shinorubi Pink Label, and Arcana Heart 3 Xtend – with more new game announcements coming up for the Saturday portion of the event. Check back soon for those! The booth mainly consists of sit-down cabs although they also brought a couple of Arc-1s along, as there has been interest shown in those in the market there. Image source for this one:
UPDATE: Touhou Scarlet Diablolique Fantastica – After becoming one of the best selling exA games in Japan, it’s no surprise to see a sequel to Touhou Perfect Sakura Fantastica. This new title is a remaster/remake of the 6th title, and like before will include more content and polishing to make this the best version of the game out there. If you don’t know what Touhou is, it’s a shmup but it has a massive following in Japan.
— exA-Arcadia 【公式】 (@exaarcadia) February 11, 2023
Daemon Bride exAGAIN – This one was announced shortly before posting, a return of Daemon Bride but now it will finally be available for arcades outside of Japan. Here’s a brief Wiki for the game, in case you haven’t heard of it before. It had been unveiled a while back as a part of a brochure but nothing more was said about it until now. Like Arcana Heart 3, this is being worked on by Team Arcana
Axel City 2 – It feels like I’ve been talking about this one forever, as it was announced before the exA was available to market. The release is finally upon us however (well, Spring), with the latest build playable at the show. Note that this will be a full exclusive, with no console release coming; This trailer also just popped up for it:
Arcana Heart 3 Xtend – Haven’t heard much about this one (other than being set to Event Mode, so no 1p play) but Team Arcana is at the show.
Donut Dodo Do! – While the build I played of this at IAAPA’22 was close to the console version, the JAEPO build is already showing various changes/improvements, including the addition of Bella. Here’s the image source; That tweet also shows a little more artwork in another pic. Here’s a brief video of the attract mode; Here’s a tweet confirming an arcade exclusive stage and a tweet from the official Pixel Games account further confirming what you see below.
UPDATE: Dynamite Bomb!! – I knew that this was there but hadn’t really seen it mentioned until Day 2 of the show. This is a new 2D fighting game with a roster of 10 characters that is wholly exclusive to the exA platform. I haven’t found anyone filming this in action so for now, here’s a much older, early build of the game (don’t expect the current build to look like this!)
Konami, as usual, doesn’t have much that you will find out West, but they are still trucking along making content for the JP market. They also have some “medal games” on hand, which we don’t really care about around these parts 😉 As they usually do, they have the Bemani Pro League taking place, a circuit of tournaments that focus on their various Bemani games:
UPDATE: KAC Finals will be held at the next JAEPO event in November. KAC covers more than just Bemani titles, so this will certainly generate interest for the next show.
Eldora Crown Eternal Labyrinth – Did you know they still make arcade RPGs in Japan? They aren’t like Gauntlet Legends, tending to be a bit more in-depth (which unfortunately makes them anathema for players out West). From the description, this one sounds pretty cool, featuring cards that place elements into dungeons and a dungeon creator mode. Read more about it here.
Mahjong Fight Girl – Sounds like a simplified version of your typical mahjong arcade games.
QuizKnock Stadium – Quiz games are another genre that don’t really exist outside of Japan anymore, but Konami is happy to keep that flame alive.
Much has been said about the state of Sega in Japan since the pandemic came along but they have moved away from the precipice and have this booth at the show (note that Sega Amusements and Sega Japan aren’t exactly the same company at this point but I’ll avoid getting into the weeds on that). That all said, Sega doesn’t have anything I could see as being “West Worthy,” everything is very much focused on Japanese tastes. They are also running several events on existing games like Hatsune Miku & Chunithm. You can watch a livestream of that here. Image source.
UFO Catcher 10 – One exception that I should mention is a new UFO Catcher crane. Interesting how that logo looks kinda like the ol’ 3DO logo.
Eiketsu Taisen – Sega also held a tournament for this game where someone at Bandai Namco Amusements won. We’re all friends here 🙂
UPDATE: Showing why events like this can be fun, almost like a concert, although we don’t really see things like this at Western arcade tradeshows:
or for this livestream:
Taito has been fairly quiet over the past few years (as an example, they had a booth at IAAPA 2018, but no Taito-specific IAAPA booths since) but as you can see here, it looks like they are ready to bounce back.
Street Fighter 6 Type Arcade – What surprised everyone on this is that it looks to be using Taito’s Type X4 setup. My first reaction was that it would look worse than the console editions, although to be fair, the X4 is just a PC and Taito has often used different graphics card configurations. That said, I’ve been told that the USB board used to connect home controllers to the arcade machine introduces a frame of input lag to the mix on both the default arcade panel controls as well as the USB game controller. This article details how this demo version plays, suggesting that it’s easier for newbies to enjoy. Image source.
Space Invaders Gigamax – Have you ever wanted to play Space Invaders with 10 other people? Now you’ll be able to, if you ever come across this. I wonder if Taito has considered doing something like a Killer Queen Arcade setup to “arcadeify” the concept a little further? Watch a video of this one on Twitter.
Bonus: If you want to turn a coin into a Space Invader souvenir, then Taito has one of those coin flattening devices at the show (although I’ve never seen one with a screen before)
Music Diver – Taito’s latest rhythm game is at the show, although this did confuse people since this is supposed to be a Round1 exclusive (generally, manufacturers don’t bring company exclusive titles to trade shows). Perhaps they did so to promote it to the public on day 2?
X-Station – Also as recently mentioned, Taito has been showing off their new MXR room with some new content.
Sanwa Unveils The JLX Lever – Meant to replace the JLF series.
Quick Shot Lands In Japan as Top Gun – Here’s one that has been available in the West (first landing in the UK/EU, then the US) for a bit and now Safari Games brought it over to Japan. From the tweet below, it sounds like it’ll need to have the redemption element deactivated or removed, but the player sounded impressed with the gun (which is noteworthy, since it’s metal and has great feedback)
— H/de.(TECHNOJAPAN.net) (@hide_loopcube) February 10, 2023
That’s all I managed to find for now – as mentioned at the top, expect updates to this page as day two of JAEPO continues!