Archive for February 8, 2008

Street Fighter IV on Viewlix cabinet – uses Taito Type X2 hardware

February 8, 2008

sfiv2.jpg

So I was poking around the Famitsu site a little more to see if there was anything more on SFIV and I had overlooked this article where the editors of that magazine had a chance to play the arcade version. So in addition to absolutely confirming the existence of an arcade version beyond all reasonable doubt, it also gives us a clue as to which hardware the game is running on. The game is housed in a Taito Viewlix cabinet, the same used for games like Battle Fantasia and includes an HD monitor and of course Taito Type X2 hardware. The article doesn’t say exactly which iteration of the hardware is being used but thanks to a comment from RyanDG it appears that a different article stated that it will use the Taito Type X2  (which I overlooked).  The only problem now is  that I don’t know of the Viewlix cabinet being heavily used overseas – let’s hope that they buck the trend on this one although I do hate how that cabinet lacks any type of cool artwork.

[Via Famitsu] [Discuss on the Forum]

Closure of Japanese Arcades does not signal that the end is near

February 8, 2008

I can’t help but feel somewhat amused at all the attention online news sources are givingwhatthe.png to the news that Namco Bandai will be closing 50-60 of their arcades in Japan due to “high oil prices and the holiday success of the Nintendo Wii”. In fact on my Google News page the group of articles Google finds that the number of articles about the subject number at 300 – while right beneath it sits the Guardian article I posted the other day stating how good the arcade scene is doing, but there are only 4 articles about that subject. It just further proves that people enjoy negative news far more than positive news, especially where the arcade is concerned. So let’s rant about it for a minute!

I should point out that this is in Japan only. Namco still owns arcades in the States and I presume Europe but they did not say that they’d close any of those. And to be honest it’s not like Namco is the only chain of arcades in the world. Japan is a separate market for one and you haven’t heard news of chains like Tilt or Dave and Busters closing down due to the same reasons. Of course Namco is not the only one closing arcades in Japan – Sega and Square Enix are as well so the economic factors in Japan are obviously playing a role here but if you have to close 50-60 of your arcades (a fairly staggering number) you can point all the fingers you want but let’s be honest here – they obviously aren’t running their own business right if that’s the case. It’s funny that businesses are always quick to blame something out of their control but never themselves for poor performance. There’s no way that other factors could include lousy management of their own arcades or lousy marketing or maybe even the developer themselves not putting out compelling enough games to get people out of their homes and into the arcade. In the case of Namco people will be quick to say “Well what about Tekken 6?” and I’d respond “What about it? It’s the 6th installment of a series and it costs $15,000 per cabinet so who do you think has to foot that bill? There’s a reason you’re charged $2-$3 on a game like that.” I sure as heck have a hard time caring for a Namco title at the moment for my own arcade because A) They are all way overpriced which means I’d have to charge more just to make up for it and higher prices drive customers away B) Chances are Namco will release a console version shortly after the arcade release and it doesn’t matter if the arcade is better or not, sales drop. C) Sequels get a little tiring after a while – give us something new like you used to Namco. This is why I advocate developers looking to something new instead of the racer/fighter/light-gun combo cycle that never seems to end. When arcades were at the top of their game, they offered a variety of titles, not just a few types and called it good. At least it seems that a few developers are starting to understand that now and I’ve praised companies like Sega, Konami and GlobalVR for the strides they’ve been taking in changing things but I believe that every one of them can take it further. Hopefully Raw Thrills’ will join that soon with their new unannounced game that promises to be different and Incredible Technologies puts out some great sports titles at a low price that I can get behind. If I had the money, I’d make my own arcade game development company to join the chorus and lead the fight like I want to. But we have to take things one step at a time. I have more to rant about but I’ll cut it off here, hit the post break if you care to read more.

[Discuss on the Forum]

(more…)

More Atarigames.com updates

February 8, 2008

I know I just mentioned some updates to the Atarigames website not too long ago but itprimrage.jpg looks like just a few days later they posted some more stuff that to anyone that enjoys arcade history could be considered a gold mine of information. So that’s why I’m bringing it up again as some of the new updates have some unique information on Marble Madness II including the operators manual and a field test report (MM2 was never released even though it got to testing – the field test report is quite intriguing); model pictures for Primal Rage; an Atari programmers reference guide; and 60 pages of Centipede memos including field test reports,  design documents, and more (this is a must for Centipede fans). I honestly have not seen such a comprehensive collection of information on classic Atari arcades before so it’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of the classics.

[Atarigames.com] [Discuss on the Forum]

Original Street Fighter IV characters in action

February 8, 2008

First we had scans and now we have full screen shots of the original Street Fighter characters of how they will appear in the the upcoming arcade game Street Fighter IV. Japanese magazine Famitsu has the screenshots, a few of which we’ll show you here. (Click on the thumbnails to enlarge)

Chun Li

ch01.jpg ch02.jpg ch06.jpg ch03.jpg

Guile

ga01.jpg ga02.jpg ga03.jpg

Dhalsim

darusimu01.jpg darusimu03.jpg darusimu04.jpg darusimu05.jpg

E. Honda

hon02.jpg hon03.jpg hon05.jpg

Zangief

zan02.jpg zan03.jpg zan05.jpg

Blanka

bu03.jpg bu04.jpg bu05.jpg bu06.jpg .

And just for the heck of it, the new character, Crimson Viper

kuri01.jpg kuri02.jpg kuri04.jpg kuri06.jpg

[Via Famitsu] [Discuss on the Forum]

Celebrating Space Invader's 30th anniversary

February 8, 2008

Cometh the Invader!

The 30th Anniversary of ‘Space Invaders’ will play a major part in promoting the Taito empire over the coming months – the AOU show in Japan will be awash with celebrations. But before the corporate historians ‘whitewash’ the brand beyond recognition, The Stinger Report wanted to share the compiled time line that charts the meteoric rise of this important title.

By 1978 the video amusement industry had moved from its infancy in 1972 with Nutting Associates Computer Space, and grown into a serious competitor to the electro-mechanical amusement market with games like PONG! While American attempted to control the market, the Japanese amusement scene worked hard to establish a video amusement market of their own, seeing this as a logical successor to their mechanical coin-op scene.

si1.jpg Space Invaders (1978)
Japanese manufacturer Taito launched under their Taitronic range this phenomena; first released as a table top game (designated T.T. in Japan) – the game was designed by Tomohiro Nishikado. The creation of the concept has fallen into video game folk law with Nishikado-san attributed as claiming the game idea came to him from a dream where he saw Santa Clause replaced by aliens steeling presents, later in a interview also attributing the game to descriptions of aliens attacking in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds – in reality the game bore more to the electro-mechanical coin-operated game Space Monsters released in 1972

The game was a phenomenal success unlike any other that snowballed – popularity with players caused a shortage of Yen coins to feed the cash box; while young players were blamed for a wave of petty crime to feed their SI habit. Within the emerging amusement scene the game become one of the most bootlegged and copied of the classics. To address this Taito licensed the game to Bally Midway who they had already established a relationship with their previous video arcade products (such as Gun Fight) – this however would cause confusion as Midway did nothing to correct the perception that the game was developed by them.

In 1979 Taito attempted to embrace new technology and produced a new version of the game that used a colour monitor that replacing the need for the colour film overlay of the original machine.

si2.jpg Space Invaders Part II (1980)
Taito was still finding its feet in the development of video amusement and proved slow to create a major sequel to the originals meteoric success. This next release used a colour monitor in Japan, but mainly a superficial enhancement on the original game play. Launched by Bally Midway as Space Invaders Deluxe in America the company was cutting corners by using the old colour overlay than employ a colour monitor – the game was proving a great cash-cow which they could not get enough of.

si3.jpg Space Invaders II (1980)
The confusion of the linage of the SI series is blurred by the confusion between Part II and this title. The Japanese manufacturer had licensed SI to Bally Midway – the Midway division had started to create its own programming resource. This game was actually developed by Midway and not a Taito creation. At the time Midway defended the move saying that they had requested a sequel to the smash hit, but Taito’s development time was too glacial. The legality of using the SI brand in this game is another grey area – a subject airbrushed from most Taito and Midway histories.

si4.jpg Space Invaders The Pinball (1980)
The use of the SI franchise gained momentum, along with a hoard of bootlegs and the appearance of foreign grown copies, other genres of products wanted to cash in. Bally (the pinball and electro-mechanical parent of Midway) launched a pintable that used the SI name, but did not use any of the iconography or brand elements – purely jumping on the bandwagon.

si5.jpg Return Of The Invaders (1985)
For Taito they had established their presence as a major amusement factory and built on their influence to develop a wide selection of games. However they did return to the SI concept creating a reworking of the original concept changing the aliens and create an enhanced playing experience.

si6.jpg Super Space Invaders ’91 (1990)
Also known as Majestic Twelve (MJ-12), named after the secret UFO government agency; this weird release offered major graphical update of the original concept far more than the 1985 release and also built on the use of the latest PCB technology a factor shaping the amusement scene.

si7.jpg Space Invaders DX (1993)
A faithful representation of the original game but on a JAMMA board with different variations of the series. A homage product that allowed operators to drop this game into their JAMMA compatible cabinets; the ability for the SI franchise to still earn not lost on the Japanese manufacturer.

si8.jpg Space Invaders ’95 (1995)
The game having the tag-line “The Attack of Lunar Loonies” this was a zany reinvention of the original SI concept. The game featuring stylized cartoon aliens and a fast and uniquely Japanese representation of the play-field. This game marked the last time that the original creator, Tomohiro Nishikado, would be linked to the franchise, leaving Taito that year to set up his own development studio (Dreams).

si9.jpg Space Invaders Anniversary (2003)
Another compilation product that mixed strange new versions of the original concept with a more traditional representation of the game. The title was launched not just to milk the franchise, but also to offer credibility to a new game board system that Taito was launching to try and keep relevant in a changing market.

si10.jpg Space Invaders Silver Anniversary / Qix (2004)
By 2004 Taito are a shadow of their former self, with hardly any international representation – but hunger for the machine in America continued, avid rec-room builders and traditional arcade operators are running short of servable SI cabinets. The opportunity to create a reliable supply of traditional SI machines saw Namco America undertake the development of a SI machine to coincide with anniversary celebrations – after a laborious license the cabinet was released in both upright and tabletop and once again was a success.

Unofficial hunger for SI has not diminished, fueled by the MAME revolution, there have been a number of amusement game packs such as the Ultimate Arcade Space Invaders Game Software Upgrade Pack (2006) that offered classic versions of the original for home and amusement use – though was soon scorched by Taito lawyers.

Space Invaders place in the hall of fame is more than just its meteoric success and iconic stature – it is the game that made the world look at video amusement and gaming as more than a flash-in-the-pan after PONG!, seeing video amusement take off. Also the game proved a important license for consumer, with the Atari 2600 version would sell thousands representing the first ‘official’ video amusement license for home.

With the 30th Anniversary, the Square-ENIX ownership of Taito allows more funding to support the anniversary, with mobile phone and console versions planned. Sadly as of yet there is no news of a new amusement outing.

Finally, the ability to research the life and times of an arcade title has been made much easier than when we at the Stinger first started reporting on amusement. Excellent websites such as Killer List of Videogames (KLOV), Arcade Flyer Archive and System16 offer a detailed and compelling archive of the arcade scene – this supported by the web resource Wikipedia that attempts to compile a effective encyclopedia. Thanks to all these resources for their help in compiling this feature.

[Discuss on the Forum]

Celebrating Space Invader’s 30th anniversary

February 8, 2008

Cometh the Invader!

The 30th Anniversary of ‘Space Invaders’ will play a major part in promoting the Taito empire over the coming months – the AOU show in Japan will be awash with celebrations. But before the corporate historians ‘whitewash’ the brand beyond recognition, The Stinger Report wanted to share the compiled time line that charts the meteoric rise of this important title.

By 1978 the video amusement industry had moved from its infancy in 1972 with Nutting Associates Computer Space, and grown into a serious competitor to the electro-mechanical amusement market with games like PONG! While American attempted to control the market, the Japanese amusement scene worked hard to establish a video amusement market of their own, seeing this as a logical successor to their mechanical coin-op scene.

si1.jpg Space Invaders (1978)
Japanese manufacturer Taito launched under their Taitronic range this phenomena; first released as a table top game (designated T.T. in Japan) – the game was designed by Tomohiro Nishikado. The creation of the concept has fallen into video game folk law with Nishikado-san attributed as claiming the game idea came to him from a dream where he saw Santa Clause replaced by aliens steeling presents, later in a interview also attributing the game to descriptions of aliens attacking in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds – in reality the game bore more to the electro-mechanical coin-operated game Space Monsters released in 1972

The game was a phenomenal success unlike any other that snowballed – popularity with players caused a shortage of Yen coins to feed the cash box; while young players were blamed for a wave of petty crime to feed their SI habit. Within the emerging amusement scene the game become one of the most bootlegged and copied of the classics. To address this Taito licensed the game to Bally Midway who they had already established a relationship with their previous video arcade products (such as Gun Fight) – this however would cause confusion as Midway did nothing to correct the perception that the game was developed by them.

In 1979 Taito attempted to embrace new technology and produced a new version of the game that used a colour monitor that replacing the need for the colour film overlay of the original machine.

si2.jpg Space Invaders Part II (1980)
Taito was still finding its feet in the development of video amusement and proved slow to create a major sequel to the originals meteoric success. This next release used a colour monitor in Japan, but mainly a superficial enhancement on the original game play. Launched by Bally Midway as Space Invaders Deluxe in America the company was cutting corners by using the old colour overlay than employ a colour monitor – the game was proving a great cash-cow which they could not get enough of.

si3.jpg Space Invaders II (1980)
The confusion of the linage of the SI series is blurred by the confusion between Part II and this title. The Japanese manufacturer had licensed SI to Bally Midway – the Midway division had started to create its own programming resource. This game was actually developed by Midway and not a Taito creation. At the time Midway defended the move saying that they had requested a sequel to the smash hit, but Taito’s development time was too glacial. The legality of using the SI brand in this game is another grey area – a subject airbrushed from most Taito and Midway histories.

si4.jpg Space Invaders The Pinball (1980)
The use of the SI franchise gained momentum, along with a hoard of bootlegs and the appearance of foreign grown copies, other genres of products wanted to cash in. Bally (the pinball and electro-mechanical parent of Midway) launched a pintable that used the SI name, but did not use any of the iconography or brand elements – purely jumping on the bandwagon.

si5.jpg Return Of The Invaders (1985)
For Taito they had established their presence as a major amusement factory and built on their influence to develop a wide selection of games. However they did return to the SI concept creating a reworking of the original concept changing the aliens and create an enhanced playing experience.

si6.jpg Super Space Invaders ’91 (1990)
Also known as Majestic Twelve (MJ-12), named after the secret UFO government agency; this weird release offered major graphical update of the original concept far more than the 1985 release and also built on the use of the latest PCB technology a factor shaping the amusement scene.

si7.jpg Space Invaders DX (1993)
A faithful representation of the original game but on a JAMMA board with different variations of the series. A homage product that allowed operators to drop this game into their JAMMA compatible cabinets; the ability for the SI franchise to still earn not lost on the Japanese manufacturer.

si8.jpg Space Invaders ’95 (1995)
The game having the tag-line “The Attack of Lunar Loonies” this was a zany reinvention of the original SI concept. The game featuring stylized cartoon aliens and a fast and uniquely Japanese representation of the play-field. This game marked the last time that the original creator, Tomohiro Nishikado, would be linked to the franchise, leaving Taito that year to set up his own development studio (Dreams).

si9.jpg Space Invaders Anniversary (2003)
Another compilation product that mixed strange new versions of the original concept with a more traditional representation of the game. The title was launched not just to milk the franchise, but also to offer credibility to a new game board system that Taito was launching to try and keep relevant in a changing market.

si10.jpg Space Invaders Silver Anniversary / Qix (2004)
By 2004 Taito are a shadow of their former self, with hardly any international representation – but hunger for the machine in America continued, avid rec-room builders and traditional arcade operators are running short of servable SI cabinets. The opportunity to create a reliable supply of traditional SI machines saw Namco America undertake the development of a SI machine to coincide with anniversary celebrations – after a laborious license the cabinet was released in both upright and tabletop and once again was a success.

Unofficial hunger for SI has not diminished, fueled by the MAME revolution, there have been a number of amusement game packs such as the Ultimate Arcade Space Invaders Game Software Upgrade Pack (2006) that offered classic versions of the original for home and amusement use – though was soon scorched by Taito lawyers.

Space Invaders place in the hall of fame is more than just its meteoric success and iconic stature – it is the game that made the world look at video amusement and gaming as more than a flash-in-the-pan after PONG!, seeing video amusement take off. Also the game proved a important license for consumer, with the Atari 2600 version would sell thousands representing the first ‘official’ video amusement license for home.

With the 30th Anniversary, the Square-ENIX ownership of Taito allows more funding to support the anniversary, with mobile phone and console versions planned. Sadly as of yet there is no news of a new amusement outing.

Finally, the ability to research the life and times of an arcade title has been made much easier than when we at the Stinger first started reporting on amusement. Excellent websites such as Killer List of Videogames (KLOV), Arcade Flyer Archive and System16 offer a detailed and compelling archive of the arcade scene – this supported by the web resource Wikipedia that attempts to compile a effective encyclopedia. Thanks to all these resources for their help in compiling this feature.

[Discuss on the Forum]