Welcome to Newsbytes, a post that curates news from around the world of arcade games and pinball.
Taito Turns 70
August 24th was Taito’s 70th anniversary, one that they’ve been keen to celebrate over in Japan. Unfortunately where the company doesn’t have much of a presence in the States anymore, only those really connected into gaming news would have heard about it. If Taito doesn’t sound super familiar to you by the brand name, you likely know them through certain games: Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Darius, Operation Wolf, Qix, Arkanoid, Rastan Saga…at least one of those has to be one you played (if not, then welcome to gaming, may I interest you in an arcade machine?)
I wrote about them for their 60th anniversary but unfortunately they haven’t released much since then that would warrant a big update (I will update it here soon, when I get some other things taken care of).
What’s your favorite Taito-made game? What’s your favorite obscure title of theirs?
VAR BOX Introduces The NBA BOX
While standard video games continue to eschew sports (Golden Tee being an exception to that unwritten rule), arcade VR platforms have been happy to try and pick up the slack. Now VR amusement company VAR BOX is adding an additional title into the basketball space by the name of NBA BOX.
VAR BOX has been at various amusement tradeshows in the past, usually with a distributor like Shaffer, their main platform offering a tethered shooting title. With NBA BOX, this gets them into sports, with the game debuting at an event in Hong Kong. I’m not sure if this has been adapted from an existing VR basketball game or if it’s original; I also don’t know if it’s linked or not. You can see characters on the screen in the picture so perhaps its a 1-on-1 kind of challenge. I’ve reached out to VAR BOX to find out more, including if this will pop up in the States in the near future. A few more photos can be seen on this LinkedIn post.
UPDATE: This has only been licensed for China at this time but the door is open for licensing elsewhere, depending on interest. The game is a typical NBA 3 point shooting arena” style game which is also connected to an “NBA BOX app” that allows users to customize their character and team. It also does allow for linked play as well as online matches, an instant leaderboard system which allows locations to host tournaments and events.
New Course Tour For Golden Tee PGA Tour 2023/2024
Here’s a 40-minute preview for the “Scablands” course that’s coming to GTPGA 2024 straight from Incredible Technologies; Just note that the stream starts around 4:45:
A New Company Is Entering The Arcade Space: Zooom Studios
I caught an ad for this new company in the most recent issue of Replay Magazine but if you don’t get that, here’s what little we know. They have a kind of teaser/placeholder site up at the moment, where they are promoting three games: Space Race, Big Choice, and Monster Prize. Apart from the names, they look like redemption titles, although it’s too little info to know whether or not any of them are videmption.
Fortunately, they are headed to IAAPA and there’s a brief description of their company to be found on the exhibitor’s list:
Zooom Studios is a newly introduced premier manufacturer and designer of redemption and self-merchandising arcade games! Our Team of seasoned industry designers promise to deliver unforgettable entertainment experiences that keep players of all ages coming back for more. The staff at Zooom Studios designs every game with exciting gameplay mechanics and vibrant visuals that will ignite your passion for Fun. Welcome to Zooom Country!
That also doesn’t tell us anything about what the games will be like and I’m curious as to who it is behind it all, but we’ll probably have to wait for IAAPA to find out. They’ll be at booth #443
On another note but speaking of IAAPA, one manufacturer contacted me and let me know that they had to cancel their booth space this year as apparently someone at the IAAPA organization double booked spaces and it would have forced them to go into a tent space outside, which they did not want to do. So far, they are the only ones I’ve heard of this happening to but I hope that somehow it’ll still work out (which is why for now I won’t say who it is).
The Unico ULM 26 Phoenix Has Some Problems
I recently received the new 4:3 LCD Phoenix monitor from Unico and apart from it being an annoyance to install, it seems to have done all right. The main issue I’ve had with its operation has been the contrast – even in turning the brightness down on it, it seems to be cranked way up on titles like Metal Slug 2. This is what it looks like with contrast at default settings but brightness at 0 – but I have not spent a lot of time tweaking the settings further since installing it (as I have multiple games with tech problems at the moment that I’ve been trying to resolve and only so much time to spend on one thing or another):
I will be posting a video of my installation of this one here soon, I just haven’t had the time to edit it together as it took a few days worth of filming (due to having to try out multiple mounting methods).
Now to be fair, that’s not unplayable or anything and some other titles like Ultimate 11 look fine, but KOF’98 was also a bit too bright with certain graphical elements. That all said, the hoopla I’ve been seeing out there hasn’t involved brightness/contrast at all, but the promoted resolution (1600×1200) vs. the actual of 1024×768, an aspect ratio of 5:4 instead of 4:3, and worse response time than advertised.
Collectors running the monitor in their MAME setup are most upset here, particularly thanks to it also having trouble with Windows. The writer of this blog post detailing the various issues posted on Twitter that he’s working with Unico to fix these issues. If there is a firmware update that helps with all of those problems and allows for a little finer control on the brightness/contrast, then I’ll be happy with that. Would I recommend that you buy one? Well, it seems it’s not in a great spot at the moment for collectors and MAMEsters, but for operators, I’m still intending on getting more to swap out my other LCDs or failing CRTs (the UMK3 you see on the right up above is using a gaming monitor but turns out that a 144Hz monitor didn’t look any different than a 60Hz one). I am glad that Unico will be improving their product however – it should have shipped with the advertised specs, or those specs corrected before they took people’s money, and it shouldn’t have taken people digging deep into it to get a change made. Of course, I think like myself, most operators aren’t going to do that sort of digging because if it works, then you move on to your next task. But we’ll see where this goes.
Raw Thrills & Arcade1up Announce Big Buck Hunter Pro Deluxe
Back when I sold arcade machines for a living, I was initially surprised by how many home users wanted to have a Big Buck machine for their home. The demand for it was similar to Pac-Man and Golden Tee and it was enough that when Raw Thrills released Big Buck HD, they eventually offered a Home “offline” model for those interested in having such a machine for their man cave. The price wasn’t much different from commercial coin-op version though.
Enter in Arcade1up, who specializes in bringing arcade machines home and Raw Thrills saw an opportunity there when they released their first Big Buck Hunter Pro machine. Now, you can pre-order the Deluxe version – although I haven’t seen what it is about this one that makes it “deluxe” (I think it’s the additional Big Buck Hunter versions like Safari). I’m not fan of the Sinden technology as in an arcade setting it fails quickly but for home use it should be fine:
Insert Coin: A Visual Guide To The Golden Age Of Video Games Achieves Kickstarter Goal
There are 4 days left so you can still back this upcoming book by Robert D. Swan, but if you hadn’t heard of it before, here’s a link. The 211 page book is focused on the visual side of things, showcasing the arcade cabinet (the design, control panel, sideart) and elements of engineering that made those games special. Since it reached funding it’s a go, but the author did mention on the Arcade Heroes News Group that as a bonus he will place every backer’s name into the book.
Speaking of game books, this is a good place to mention The Art Of The Box – It’s not arcade specific but close enough.
Linus Tech Tips Checks Out Sega’s ALLS Arcade PC
It’s an interesting little video but I do have to point out that all the online & revenue sharing stuff does not exist for North American (and I’d assume European) region models. One example of an ALLS powered game would be House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn, which I’ve had for a few years now. I do understand the gaming and preservation side of cracking these but when they’re still relatively new on the market and are still making money for arcades, it’s not something I’m going to condone. But I guess I am in a way by sharing this…as well as this other channel which did a similar thing.
Betson Posts A Features Trailer For Pulp Fiction Pinball – I reached out to Chicago Gaming for an update but so far have heard nothing back
Air Hockey Celebrates 50 Years With World Championships – Brunswick invented the air hockey machine, which was released around the same time as PONG
Andamiro USA Has A New Spider-Man Coin Pusher – The web slinging idea is clever
Konami Is Launching A New Rhythm Arcade Game In Japan Called Polaris Code – Probably a response to Idolm@ster Tours
[Console] Atari Announces The Atari 2600+ Console – It’s an emulation box that plays OG carts; It also plays Atari 7800 games.
That’s all for this edition of Newsbytes. If you have a good arcade local to you, be sure to go out and support them with some business this week or weekend!