IAAPA 2023: The LAI Games Round-Up

arcadehero November 25, 2023 0
IAAPA 2023: The LAI Games Round-Up

Next up in our focused posts from the IAAPA 2023 trade show is LAI Games. They’ve long had a strong presence at Western trade shows like IAAPA and Amusement Expo, and this time they had a few brand new games to show off, along with some popular titles that have been around for a bit.

LAI Games Booth Tour

Let’s start with a quick tour around their booth, then I’ll get into a deeper focus on the video games. Note that all of the new-new games unveiled at the show will launch this January, but one can place an order through your distributor for any of them right now.

Asphalt Moto Blitz DX

Where LAI handled the arcade release of Asphalt Legends, it made sense that would handle the sequel, again made by Wahlap. Perhaps its best to call this a “pseudo-sequel” since it’s not Asphalt Legends 10, and it involves controlling a superbike instead of a super car. That all said, this game comes in a twin configuration and uses a sleek bike controller. The LEDs in the rear wheel stand out the most about this, showing an animation that leaves you with the impression of a spinning neon tire. Graphically the game is top notch and it comes with four game modes and fifteen total tracks to keep players coming back. Grab a few more details over at LAI’s website.

Also as you might have noticed in the booth video, they also showcased all three versions of Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade.

Air Strike

This collaboration with Ace Amusement was at the front of LAI’s booth and got quite a bit of play. It’s an aerial combat racer, combining those three elements into one game. It does lack the ability to control one’s speed, which I suppose is to help keep it easy for younger players. While it doesn’t have the graphical fidelity of Asphalt Moto, I think it gets the job done fine as the environments are lush and the frame rate was solid from what I witnessed.

Note that these are sold only in twin configurations right now. Check it out on the product page here.

I liked the motion. It didn’t make me nauseous and added an extra element of cool to the game. Almost all motion systems out there right now are air bladder based, so a pendulum swing is a way to stand out.

Click here to read a tangent of thought on this game and a criticism that popped up about some arcade games on the video above.

I don’t think it looks “bad.” The environments are detailed, the lighting is nice, the color is vibrant, and the frame rate is solid.  Sure, the gameplay could use a little more polish, particularly in the feel of the aiming (feels limited where you can’t always aim as high as it feels like you should) and the collisions of your craft with the environments need improvement. That made the controls take some getting used to. I also expected the top thumb triggers to do something but they didn’t.

Regardless, it looks far better than all the top 2D games I see on the Google Play store right now but if you are curious why I’m harping on that, check out the tangent at the bottom.

Dragon’s Bane

I don’t pay a ton of attention to coin pushers but this Wahlap-made one having a video screen likes to prod me into that direction. Setup for 1-3 players, this fantasy-themed game challenges the player to fire off tokens at the moving target (aka “the loot bag”) to trigger events on the screen and open up ways to win more tickets. The most impressive instance is when the game begins to fire off a constant stream of coins at the loot bag. It comes in a nice looking cabinet too, although the image shows it saying “Dragon’s Bane Heroes” while the product page just says Dragon’s Bane.

Cosmic Spire

If you prefer “pure” coin pushing action, then LAI has Playmore’s Cosmic Spire. This uses a combination of coins and marbles, with a spinning tower element for bonuses.

What did you think about LAI’s offerings at this IAAPA? If you have a location, are you looking at adding any of these games to your line-up?

Tangent Alert! – From the Air Strike video, there was a comment about how it “looks like a mobile game.” That sounded like a criticism that I often hear levelled at arcades, but it seems that the YouTube comment system wouldn’t let the viewer explain what he meant.

I ask what he meant as mobile games can look like crap or they can look rather impressive for the hardware. The same can be said for games on modern PCs and consoles. You can always find examples of poor or AAA quality on any platform. Sure, a AAA mobile game isn’t going to look as good as a AAA PC title, so I get that claiming an arcade game looks like a mobile game is meant to imply it looks like garbage. Still, using that feels poorly thought out, since by using a blanket statement like that, you might as well be claiming that Air Strike or any other arcade piece that “looks like a mobile game” looks like Wordscapes or Flappy Bird. That’s absurd though.

I explain much of that in this video:

I get that with arcades, there was a time up until the mid-90s where arcades were always the pinnacle of graphical fidelity. But that hasn’t been the case for over 20 years now. Expecting it to stay that way is unrealistic for several reasons. Cost is one, and games are more expensive than ever already. Will charging the operator an extra $5-10K so it can run at 8K 60fps with raytraced graphics make any meaningful difference in earnings? Most likely no.

We could level that thought at consoles or PCs too – are the jumps in graphical quality really as enormous as they used to be between console generations? Is it worth it to drop $1000+ on every brand new top-of-the-line graphics card that comes out every few months? Unless you’re Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, then probably not.

Granted, gamers want things to look amazing while operators want games to earn. There’s always a balance to be found there, although I feel like some gamers are hyperbolically critical over this stuff. Some also attack with a vague notion that arcades need to be something more to stand out. What that something is they can never explain though.

I still want arcade games to be looking great, so sure, 4K and 60fps feel like basics that all devs should aim for at minimum these days. But this notion that arcades should be light-years ahead of consoles or phones is unrealistic, as stated above. What’s wrong with being on par?

Anyways, tangent off, unless you want to discuss in the comments below 🙂


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