Note: This post is discussing a game seen on location test, the arcade industry equivalent of a beta test. That means that the game could change significantly in it’s final release, or not see production at all.
UPDATE: 7/7/23 (3pm MST) – Thanks to highshelfking on the Arcade Heroes Guilded server for sharing the video added below of this game in action.
It’s time for a little summer surprise, as we have a new light-gun shooter to discuss. This is a bit of a surprise that needs a little bit of an explanation though. Back in March of 2021, this Drakons: Realm Keepers was spotted on test. Developed by Adrenaline Amusements, it appeared to be a dragon riding game with a motion base, but we only had one pic to go off of; When I asked about it at Amusement Expo 2021, the Adrenaline rep had little to share since he hadn’t seen the game in person yet.
Unfortunately, we never heard anything about it again until I was at IAAPA 2022 and while looking at Adrenaline’s new NFS Heat Takedown, was told about the upcoming DX motion model where the motion base used had been developed first for Drakons. Naturally I pried and that’s were I learned that the game was indeed about riding and fighting on a dragon, playing similar to Blazing Angels Arcade. This freedom of movement was unusual for an arcade game and sadly it was a dud on test. It seemed the only thing to survive of the project would be the motion base.
Drakons: Realm Keepers is back on test but it has been completely retooled into a light-gun game. This pic, taken at the new Supercharged FEC in New Jersey, is all I have to go off of again, but there’s plenty to glean from it. It’s safe to assume that the game still involves dragons and dragon riders, but now it’s a non-rails shooting game for 1-2 players. The unusual screen setup (a perfect square aspect ratio) appears to be using Micro LED panels instead of an HDTV from off-the-shelf – which might be reflective of NFS Heat Takedown’s top marquee now influencing Drakons. It also still uses a motion base, with independently sliding seats.
I like the fire aesthetic the cabinet has going for it – perhaps those lights in the seats are animated to resemble flickering flames? I also have to appreciate that it’s an original idea instead of licensing something out (although I’m sure there are a few books that could be licensed with this concept as opposed to relying entirely on a movie). From this size I do imagine it’ll be a pricey game, if it reaches production, although I was surprised by how competitive NFS Heat Takedown was in that regard, compared to other racers on the market. It’s also nice to see Adrenaline not focusing exclusively on videmption games – sure those have their place in arcades these days but the gamer in me always enjoys those amusement only pieces.
As mentioned at the top, we have video of this one. The video quality is a little low and it was filmed by the player while holding the phone but hey, I’ll take it. There are three selectable levels, although that could just be for the test – the final could have that or more. The frame rate looks smooth and the environments are colorful; You are shooting fireballs at the plethora of enemies that you encounter. One thing that is hopefully addressed in the final build is a leaderboard – this appears to just go to a “Continue?” screen when you die, which is similar to another Adrenaline game, Tomb Raider Arcade. I’m begging developers – if the game has a scoring system then it absolutely has to have a leaderboard. Otherwise, what’s the point? Sure, there are people who don’t care about that. But at those that do will tend to be more loyal to a game.
What are your thoughts on this one?