Archive for March 2009

IRRobot's MaruBot Football League

March 24, 2009

marubot1

stinger11

One development that I have always kept an eye out for in the coin-op arcade sector is the creation of new kinds of experiences that are extremely difficult to reproduce at home and aren’t intended solely for huge FECs. This would include the creation of player-controller robot games, the likes of which we have seen previously with games like Slambot and Robo-Basho.

A new company out of Korea has thrown their hat into the ring for the development of arcade machines involving robots and that company is called IR Robot or Intelligent Recreational Robot. Their first product is called MaruBot Football League, a game that they say has the potential to “…replace world-wide popular table marubot2[air] hockey game[s] in the future.” I don’t know about that yet but I do believe that the potential for robotic games like this in arcades is huge because it does give us an advantage over home games and it’s the kind of thing that could attract people to come out and play on it’s own.

MaruBot Football comes in two flavors, a 2 player and a 4 player cabinet that is quite attractive and the game is simple enough for anyone to come along and play. They do state on their website that they intend to distribute these games all over the world but I do not know if they are planning on direct selling or if they intend to setup deals with various distributors in different countries. There is no price on it yet either so we will have to wait and see how that turns out – I know with Slambot they had a version that was reasonably priced so perhaps this will be too.  IRRobot has even created a redemption game called Golden Dozer that uses similar robots in a different kind of game than MaruBot Football. To top it off they are working on a very cool concept that combines real robot tanks with a virtual playing field called Battle Tank Robot. While they say that this is the first of it’s kind, I have seen something like that before in a video that was on Tom’s Hardware a long time ago although I do not know if what I saw there was intended for commerical use – this would be and it would be ready to go for arcades so we will keep an eye on that as if it’s done right it could be very cool.

In the meantime, check out their website for more.

[IRRobot – MaruBot Football League] [Discuss on the Forum]

IRRobot’s MaruBot Football League

March 24, 2009

marubot1

stinger11

One development that I have always kept an eye out for in the coin-op arcade sector is the creation of new kinds of experiences that are extremely difficult to reproduce at home and aren’t intended solely for huge FECs. This would include the creation of player-controller robot games, the likes of which we have seen previously with games like Slambot and Robo-Basho.

A new company out of Korea has thrown their hat into the ring for the development of arcade machines involving robots and that company is called IR Robot or Intelligent Recreational Robot. Their first product is called MaruBot Football League, a game that they say has the potential to “…replace world-wide popular table marubot2[air] hockey game[s] in the future.” I don’t know about that yet but I do believe that the potential for robotic games like this in arcades is huge because it does give us an advantage over home games and it’s the kind of thing that could attract people to come out and play on it’s own.

MaruBot Football comes in two flavors, a 2 player and a 4 player cabinet that is quite attractive and the game is simple enough for anyone to come along and play. They do state on their website that they intend to distribute these games all over the world but I do not know if they are planning on direct selling or if they intend to setup deals with various distributors in different countries. There is no price on it yet either so we will have to wait and see how that turns out – I know with Slambot they had a version that was reasonably priced so perhaps this will be too.  IRRobot has even created a redemption game called Golden Dozer that uses similar robots in a different kind of game than MaruBot Football. To top it off they are working on a very cool concept that combines real robot tanks with a virtual playing field called Battle Tank Robot. While they say that this is the first of it’s kind, I have seen something like that before in a video that was on Tom’s Hardware a long time ago although I do not know if what I saw there was intended for commerical use – this would be and it would be ready to go for arcades so we will keep an eye on that as if it’s done right it could be very cool.

In the meantime, check out their website for more.

[IRRobot – MaruBot Football League] [Discuss on the Forum]

Jeuxactu.com interviews KOFXII producer Maasaki Kukinko

March 24, 2009

kofinterview

stinger11

A lot of people are excited about SNK’s upcoming King Of Fighters XII. I am one of them although I do admit that my enthusiasm for the game has been dampered a little bit by the impending console release in the US on July 7th (the game is scheduled to be released in arcades in Japan in April) and it seems like they have decided to use the VS. format only for the game like SFIV which means that operators have to buy two units, thus increasing the cost of investment on the game (in the comments fubarduck says otherwise). Despite those problems (from my operator point of view), it  still looks like a great game so I look forward to playing it either way.

Anyways, there is an interview up on French gaming site Jeuxactu with the producer of KOFXII, Maasaki Kukinko. They talk about HD graphics and the decision to stick with 2D art for this one, how the gameplay compares to other KOF games (it appears that they are trying to make it feel more like KOF98) and more. Hit the link below for the translation.

[Maasaki Kukinko Interview – Jeuxactu] [Discuss on the Forum]

Taito's Space Invaders 30th Anniversary Celebration to end with a bang

March 24, 2009

stinger11

taitohappystation_buppan090302_42I received this a couple of days ago but as it was all in Japanese in a form that the online translator could not do anything with it (I have noticed many Japanese sites like to do that, where all the text is done in the forms of JPEGs or something similar), I had to resort to other means to figure out what on earth this Taito promotion site was talking about. Thankfully, Aaron Auzins of bemanistyle.com was able to translate what it was that was going on and so here is his rundown on what Taito is doing this Thursday in Japan.

“Even though it’s 2009, Taito is still looking to party like it’s 2008 with one, final event in recognition of its flagship Space Invaders’ 30th anniversary. For an event on Thursday, Taito will be rolling out special versions dubbed Space Invaders CX to six different Taito Happy Station locations in Japan, putting up exclusive goods and a chance to attend a special event later that evening.

Space Invaders has been showcased in arcades since 1978 and a special event in Akihabara’s UDX Gallery will be home to a special “retro free play” event from 14:00-18:00 on March 26. The game’s page shows a
number of cabinets with release dates ranging from 1986 onward, so, hopefully this represents titles that will be present at the event. From top to bottom, the page includes photos of Ninja Warriors (1987),
Darius (1986), Night Striker (1989), as well as two recent Taito games shown at AOU, Hopping Road and Senyoru Nippon.

However, attending the event is more than a matter of showing up at the door. Starting at 10:00, prospective attendees must attend events set up at six different Taito Station arcades.

In a cross promotion with GameCenter CX (GCCX), a popular television series in Japan now in its 11th season where comedian Shinya Arino plays video games under a time limit and goal, the event is being
billed as Space Invaders X (pronounced “cross”) GCCX and places Space Invaders CX machines at the locations. The show was popular enough to be made into a Nintendo DS video game entitled GameCenter CX: Arino’s
Challenge in 2007 – a title that was recently brought to the United States (sans references to the televisions show that would be unfamiliar to the region’s audience) under the title Retro Game Challenge – so Game Master Arino is no stranger to being featured in a video game. The CX version of the arcade machine seems nearly
identical to the original game, however, a caricature of Arino replaces the mystery point UFO.

The Station locations featuring the machine include Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, BIGBOX Takadanobaba (Tokyo) and Ueno, with each location hosting two sets of machines. When the event launches,
players can pick up a stamp card. Players get one chance per location to shoot down the flying Arino and if they are successful, they receive a stamp on their card.

It seems if you receive two or more stamps from the various locations, you can be admitted to the UDX Gallery event, where, if I’m translating this correctly, you can receive a business card from Mr. Arino himself. While this might sound silly to those outside of Japan, business card trading is very serious in the country and I
would be led to believe the business card would be from the GameCenter CX Company, the fictitious company Arino works for in the television series, making it a gaming collectible. Also, each of the six stamp
locations has a unique stuffed mascot character available, being based on Arino and some of the characters from the GCCX video game RPG, and original GCCX merchandise will also be available for purchase during
the event.

This sounds like a fantastic promotion and it also seems the stamp card craze is still running strong in Japan’s arcades. Konami is also running stamp card promotions in which AOU attendees and members of other events could receive stamps toward Bemani tumblers (coffee mugs). Hopefully the Space Invaders’ 30th anniversary finale goes out with a bang, leaving us wondering what could top such a grand event for the series’ 40th or even 50th anniversary.”

[Discuss on the Forum]

Taito’s Space Invaders 30th Anniversary Celebration to end with a bang

March 24, 2009

stinger11

taitohappystation_buppan090302_42I received this a couple of days ago but as it was all in Japanese in a form that the online translator could not do anything with it (I have noticed many Japanese sites like to do that, where all the text is done in the forms of JPEGs or something similar), I had to resort to other means to figure out what on earth this Taito promotion site was talking about. Thankfully, Aaron Auzins of bemanistyle.com was able to translate what it was that was going on and so here is his rundown on what Taito is doing this Thursday in Japan.

“Even though it’s 2009, Taito is still looking to party like it’s 2008 with one, final event in recognition of its flagship Space Invaders’ 30th anniversary. For an event on Thursday, Taito will be rolling out special versions dubbed Space Invaders CX to six different Taito Happy Station locations in Japan, putting up exclusive goods and a chance to attend a special event later that evening.

Space Invaders has been showcased in arcades since 1978 and a special event in Akihabara’s UDX Gallery will be home to a special “retro free play” event from 14:00-18:00 on March 26. The game’s page shows a
number of cabinets with release dates ranging from 1986 onward, so, hopefully this represents titles that will be present at the event. From top to bottom, the page includes photos of Ninja Warriors (1987),
Darius (1986), Night Striker (1989), as well as two recent Taito games shown at AOU, Hopping Road and Senyoru Nippon.

However, attending the event is more than a matter of showing up at the door. Starting at 10:00, prospective attendees must attend events set up at six different Taito Station arcades.

In a cross promotion with GameCenter CX (GCCX), a popular television series in Japan now in its 11th season where comedian Shinya Arino plays video games under a time limit and goal, the event is being
billed as Space Invaders X (pronounced “cross”) GCCX and places Space Invaders CX machines at the locations. The show was popular enough to be made into a Nintendo DS video game entitled GameCenter CX: Arino’s
Challenge in 2007 – a title that was recently brought to the United States (sans references to the televisions show that would be unfamiliar to the region’s audience) under the title Retro Game Challenge – so Game Master Arino is no stranger to being featured in a video game. The CX version of the arcade machine seems nearly
identical to the original game, however, a caricature of Arino replaces the mystery point UFO.

The Station locations featuring the machine include Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, BIGBOX Takadanobaba (Tokyo) and Ueno, with each location hosting two sets of machines. When the event launches,
players can pick up a stamp card. Players get one chance per location to shoot down the flying Arino and if they are successful, they receive a stamp on their card.

It seems if you receive two or more stamps from the various locations, you can be admitted to the UDX Gallery event, where, if I’m translating this correctly, you can receive a business card from Mr. Arino himself. While this might sound silly to those outside of Japan, business card trading is very serious in the country and I
would be led to believe the business card would be from the GameCenter CX Company, the fictitious company Arino works for in the television series, making it a gaming collectible. Also, each of the six stamp
locations has a unique stuffed mascot character available, being based on Arino and some of the characters from the GCCX video game RPG, and original GCCX merchandise will also be available for purchase during
the event.

This sounds like a fantastic promotion and it also seems the stamp card craze is still running strong in Japan’s arcades. Konami is also running stamp card promotions in which AOU attendees and members of other events could receive stamps toward Bemani tumblers (coffee mugs). Hopefully the Space Invaders’ 30th anniversary finale goes out with a bang, leaving us wondering what could top such a grand event for the series’ 40th or even 50th anniversary.”

[Discuss on the Forum]

Namco's Razing Storm released to arcades around the world

March 21, 2009

rstorm2Namco has announced that their new title Razing Storm (which we have talked about quite a bit already and I recently got some hands-on time with the game at ASI) is now in full production and that as such it should be available worldwide shortly.  The game was quite popular at ASI and for FECs/arcades that pick it up, I imagine that it will be an eye-catcher at those locations for some time. As such we have moved Razing Storm into the Already Released category of our Arcade Release list for 2009.

[Via Namco America News] [Discuss on the Forum]

Namco’s Razing Storm released to arcades around the world

March 21, 2009

rstorm2Namco has announced that their new title Razing Storm (which we have talked about quite a bit already and I recently got some hands-on time with the game at ASI) is now in full production and that as such it should be available worldwide shortly.  The game was quite popular at ASI and for FECs/arcades that pick it up, I imagine that it will be an eye-catcher at those locations for some time. As such we have moved Razing Storm into the Already Released category of our Arcade Release list for 2009.

[Via Namco America News] [Discuss on the Forum]

Indie arcade game Get Outta My Face at SXSW

March 21, 2009

gomf-sxsw1

We reported about the new indie arcade game Get Outta My Face making an appearance at the tech show known as SXSW in Texas a couple of weeks ago and now we have some pictures of how it went, thanks to the game’s creator, Will Brierly. The game even got a very brief mention on an NPR news show that was discussing SXSW. Will reports that “The games had a crowd around them for the whole weekend. I was truly amazed by the response!” A few pictures of those crowds are below, just click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

gomf-sxsw-2 gomf-sxsw sxsw-booth-crowd-2 sxsw-booth-crowd-3

Even Master Chief was seen with the game:

halo-arcade

Thanks to Will for sending us these pics, and we are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming release of this game for arcades everywhere to enjoy!

[Snow Runner Productions] [Discuss on the Forum]

More ASI goodness: Pictures from The Stinger Report

March 19, 2009

hilton

We are not done with our ASI coverage just yet – in addition to this post I still have more videos to upload but I am currently waiting on receiving those from my friend and business partner, then I’ll work on getting those uploaded. We spent more time taking videos than taking pictures so fortunately, Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report was there at the show after us to grab a bunch of shots of what was there. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge and they are presented in the order that we were sent them.

Andamiro

nxabsol1

This is one place where I did not get any video, as most everything at the booth we have seen before, except for the new NX Absolute. Arcana Heart 2 was not at the booth this time unfortunately, from what I have heard they did not bring many AH2 kits over to the US afterall, which is too bad.

PentaVision

djtech

I did get a video of this which I’ll get online soon. I didn’t do too great at it but it was a lot of fun and it has some really cool features. I’m still not sure that all those features are worth the price tag of the game but I was impressed with it.

ICE

gamegatevu ballistic1 photohorserace

This is where they had the Game Gate VU (let’s you use an Xbox 360 or PS3 as an arcade cabinet), Ballistics which is the ball throwing game.I didn’t get a chance to play the Photo Finish Racing game at the end although it’s a cool looking cabinet. It almost seemed like skee-ball from what I saw.

Betson/Raw Thrills

brt1 gharcbt h2obt putt putt2 ddrx2

Another look at the Betson booth which I showed in a video in a post below. I’d love to have some of those banners. BTW, there’s AH reader Dasbacon playing DDRX.

Stern

stern1 stern2

Stern had more at the booth than just 24. To be honest I have become less and less impressed with 24 as I have thought about. They didn’t even bother to put in real toys in the cases of the helicopter and the jet and it felt like there was a little too much open space in the game.It was hard to tell at the show but the sound bites didn’t sound like they used the actual actors from the show but I will need to play the game in a better environment to get a better idea of that point. There were constantly quite a few people at the booth however so the interest in pinball is still there.

Fun Company

funco

Here are some of those cabinets we have mentioned previously from Fun Company, you can see the new Sega Bass Fishing Challenge on the left there and it looked pretty good on that cabinet.

Sega

bassfish pigsmightfly brickpeople2 moresega r-tuned codered

I wonder how the Sega Bass Fishing Challenge tournament went, as you can see here it was in three different cabs, two from Fun Co., one from a very official looking cab instead of just a kit conversion. Pigs Might Fly is Sega’s new video redemption game that reminds me of a flash game I’ve played once but it looked good and it was fun on top of that. Sega also had a new SWP game that is like Shoot This Win This called Code Red on hand; it has nothing to do with Mountain Dew however. 😉

Namco

rstromnirin1 barbercut namco2 namco3

Razing Storm and Nirin were at the front of the Namco booth as we have mentioned and both games were very loud and garnered quite a bit of attention. In addition to those games they had several titles on hand that we have seen previously, such as MaxiTune 3, Pac-Man, Rockin’ Bowl-A-Rama and Flamin’ Finger. They also had a new crane concept called Barber Cut, where you win prizes by attempting to cut a thread with scissor-like apparatus.

GlobalVR

gvr1 gvr2 gvr31

Justice League was naturally the showcase game for GlobalVR this time around, where they had four cabinets on hand to play, including two deluxe, one standard and one conversion kit. The deluxe cabs are actually the same cabinets used for Aliens: Extermination and Paradise Lost with a few minor changes. They also had Need For Speed: Carbon deluxe, NASCAR Deluxe, Blazing Angels and GlobalVR classics on hand.

Coastal Amusments

seawolf

All of the versions of the new Sea Wolf were on hand here and they even had a pretty good show special for one of the versions of the game running at about $4000. I have a video of this in action that will be part of my next ASI update.

Mountain Coin

cottoncandy

These guys are my local distributor and they had a cool new cotton candy machine on the floor that makes cotton candy without the need for an attendant. I saw this here in Salt Lake prior to the show and it’s pretty cool to watch as it make a production out of creating the snack. One great thing about it is that it only costs the operator 10¢ for every stick sold whereas it costs the customer $2 to purchase. The bad side is that it’s about $9000 for the machine.

TrioTech

triotech

They didn’t have much going on this year, with just a couple of their new Typhoon simulators and UFO Stomper.

Virtual Backgrounds

gametheater

I didn’t play this (although every time I passed by someone was giving it a play) but Kevin says: “Game Theater was a retro-reflected screen system from a start up called Virtual Backgrounds (hardware for displaying video games on a large screen using no more space than a standard arcade cabinet). I played it, was not impressed but the concept was different.”

That should do it for now, until I can get those videos online. I do have one recommendation in the future for ASI/AMOA or other trade events like these – put together a free play arcade of some classics, like they have at various arcade collector expos around the year. It wouldn’t need to be as large but it would be kind of cool to have that in addition to games brought by game companies. Also, kudos for planning to do this with the International Pizza Expo, that should be done every time. 🙂

[Thanks to Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report for the pics] [Discuss on the Forum]

Arc System Works wants you to go dragon hunting (in Japan)

March 18, 2009

dh02

stinger11

Another cool terminal game is hitting the arcades in Japan, this time it is Dragon Hunter by Arc System Works (same company that brought us BlazBlue). This title is not a fighter but a cutesy RPG-style game with a pretty cool cabinet environment, where the game terminals sit inside of a larger enclosure that gives players quite a large screen to play together on that they label the “Attack 180” as it gives you a screen that wraps 180° around the players. It appears that the game is made for 1-5 players and while the rest of the information on the game is in Japanese, it looks like a dh16pretty cool game that will garner a bit of attention, just don’t expect to see it outside of Japan very often.

I have wondered how a terminal style concept could be adapted for other markets – such a thing would have to market to hardcore console or PC players to gain any traction as such games would probably be too complicated for many casual players you typically see in arcades to wrap their heads around. Still, the possibilities for what can be done with such setups are many.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Aaron Auzins of BemaniStyle.com, here is a better idea of what this game entails. He translated the PDF we have linked below and passed along the following about the game:
The included flier goes through the general information for the game and serves as an advertisement for the game’s location testing at Mori
Fantasy Ion Reikutaun Ltd. in Koshigaya. The testing began on March 14 and is set to run through March 31 on the location’s third floor.

Dragon Hunter is a collaboration with another company, which develops 360-degree stereoscopic vision theater systems, explaining the
technology used in the game. Arc System Works is claiming the title to be the world’s first commercially-released 180-degree multiplayer
interactive action machine. “Action” may be too simple of a description, though, as the company actually lists the game’s genre as
“nonstop high-speed action attraction.” As such, we should be expecting huge things from Dragon Hunter, especially since Arc System
Works is suggesting a 200 Yen cost per play, which given current conversions amounts to a hefty $2.13 US or 1.55 EU per game. Ouch.
And here I thought $1.00 US per game was a little bit of a stretch.

Obviously, as seen in the promotional photos, the attraction houses five players at a time and Arc System Works is actively aiming to
attract a younger crowd and it openly encourages parents to play the game with their children. At each station, players will find a touch
panel display, an eight-way joystick and two buttons. While I couldn’t find any description of the touch panel’s functionality, one
of the console’s buttons launches your character’s attack, while the other activates a defensive maneuver to avoid attacks coming at you.
After depositing one’s money, the game allows the player to decide on a character, the color of their equipment and clothes as well as the
character’s dragon color schemes and players can also name their character. Dedicated players will be able store their results data on
a “Dragon QR card,” which can be placed into the unit to restore the data such as the character’s customization, stats, furthest game play
point reached, etc.

Right now, Arc System Works is shooting for an April release for the
game, but the date is still tentative.
[Dragon Hunter site] [Product PDF] [More info: Game Watch] [Discuss on the Forums]