ASI 2008 – my view (part 1)
As previously stated I was able to make it down to ASI 2008 and it was a fun experience – I was able to play a number of games that I have only heard about or seen online. But what was disappointing is that the selection of video games was relatively small compared to what could have been seen and there were almost no new announcements for games to come along later in the year(I could only find one). Still it was fun and it was great to meet up with a few people that I have talked with online before. I was told that Nolan Bushnell showed up very briefly at the show, it’s too bad that I didn’t get a chance to meet him and at least thank him for giving us Atari.
While I did take a number of pictures and video, for some reason several of the images and a couple of the videos became corrupted so I have less to show. I do apologize for that, it really disappointed me as one of the reasons I went to ASI was to get many pictures and video but this will have to do. I think the problem is the digital camera I have, so next time I’ll make sure to have a decent one. Click on the thumbnails for a full view.
I’d also like to thank the AAMA for accommodating my brother and I, they were very nice and friendly and I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me for interviewing both Micheal Rudowicz, president of the AAMA and Frank Cosentino of Namco, which I will be transcribing as time permits (I made a voice recording of the interviews but the audio isn’t too great thanks to the ambient noise of the show).
First off, Namco. As mentioned in the previous post, they have a very small video presence – while they had a large booth, a vast majority of the games there were of a redemption nature that I did not spend much time looking at. However they did have a couple of games that I wanted to see – Maximum Tune 3 (four units which were almost always occupied) and Mario Kart Arcade GP2. They also had a Pac-Man/Galaga unit, a tabletop Pac-Man combo and a Bowl-o-rama machine. I was able to interview Frank Cosenteno of Namco and we had a good discussion about the industry along with some of Namco’s plans (I will post a transcript of that interview soon but it will take some time). While he wasn’t able to divulge much about their future plans, we did discuss a little bit about Namco’s plan to use the Wii in the arcade development scene, Tekken 6 and the possibility of Pac-Man CE coming to arcades. I managed to recover a picture of Wacky Races (which wasn’t at the Namco booth but was close by – the lever was removed and replaced with a giant button) but everything else Namco related is lost.
GlobalVR had a large booth showcasing most of their current games – they had 10 NASCAR games hooked up which received a lot of attention, including several standard and deluxe cabinets and two motion cabinets. Playing on that large of a network was quite fun. They also had several Blazing Angels units setup which also received a good deal of attention and praise; a Global Classics cocktail cabinet, two America’s Army units and two Paradise Lost (standard) units. I know it’s older but it would have been nice to see an Alien: Extermination Deluxe setup at the show. I didn’t hear anything about their new NFS: Carbon title or anything about the new Signature Devices titles that were announced earlier this week.
Betson/Raw Thrills also had a large booth on display with several Big Buck Hunter Pro and Big Buck Safari units setup for play. They also had the new tournament edition of BBHPro there which is using some cool ideas for playing online. Big Buck Safari is a lot of fun, I think I like it more than BBH to be honest for it’s variety in levels and challenges and some of the new bonus rounds. Many people in the booth had BBS clothes on (including a couple of booth babes). The Big Buck Safari Deluxe still needs some work though – they said that it was only about 60%-70% complete as there are problems with the light guns and the LCD which I could tell – my shots didn’t register 80% of the time. Hopefully they iron this out before the final release. Nice cabinet though. They also had several Tokyo Drift cabinets setup and were demonstrating the new Drift kits in some Crusin’ World and USA cabinets. They looked pretty nice actually and the price is competitive (between $2200 and $2600) for what you get. They also had a couple of Super Bikes machines and one Konami game, DDR Supernova 2 which didn’t get much attention. I was told a little more about more Raw Thrills developments – nothing detailed but there are several teams in the company working on several new games. I hope to hear more soon.
Next up is Sega. In perhaps what is an indication of their recent troubles, Sega didn’t have a large presence at ASI – in fact their booth was tucked away and relatively small. As Kevin of the Stinger Report mentioned, they only had two videos there, Primeval Hunt and RaceTV. I enjoyed (and finished) Primeval Hunt and to an extent RaceTV but I could see where it had received some criticism. They also had their Shoot This! Win This! and UFO Catcher video redemption games as well as some new Spongebob SquarePants redemption game setup. We had hoped to see some indication of new developments from Sega such as Sega Rally but to no avail. Unfortunately both the pictures I took of the Sega booth didn’t survive, but I do have a video of the booth to make up for it.
Stern Pinball was located next to Raw Thrills and was quite popular as the day went on. They had two Indiana Jones pinball machines with what looked to be the final playfield art ; Shrek pinball, Wheel of Fortune and a few other recent hits of theirs. I was able to briefly meet Gary Stern which was cool and I congratulate him on Indiana Jones pinball – I thought that it was a lot of fun and I had the chance to play it a couple of times. Shrek pinball was also pretty good and I can see them producing more than 250 of those. I did take a video of Indiana Jones pinball being played which I will be posting later today.
iMOtion had their Panzer Elite Action game setup at the Mountain Coin Op booth (which also had the SpongeBob SquarePants Digital pinball table). I talked with them for a little bit and saw a video of a new game they have developed that involves boat racing (this was the only brand new game announced at the show that I know of) called Power Boat. From the brief video I saw of Power Boat it looks really good, it reminds me a little of HydroThunder but it uses motion (and more advanced graphics). Their reps have the right idea – that arcades need different kinds of games that fit more into the simulator experience. I can only hope that soon they’ll make a mech based game, which was an idea they seemed open to. We can definently expect to see more from them in the future. If you haven’t seen the iGO motion cabinet yet, click here for a cool 3D interactive demo of how the machine works.
More coming up!