Archive for April 2010

Catching up with new games from China: Dogfight Moto, tropical Ocean 3, Bloody Taierzhuang

April 30, 2010

Today I decided to do a little research on some companies that generally go under our radar, not because we have no interest in covering the games they produce but because they aren’t very vocal about releases outside of China or Taiwan unless you stumble across their booth at a show. We last saw Chinese companies Belrare and Tecway Developments(they team up often on projects) at IAAPA 2009, showing off some interesting concepts, from a snowboarding game, to a DJ Max Technika clone called Magic DJ to a Super Monkey Ball-clone called Happy Balance Ball. So what have they been up to since IAAPA?

First is Belrare/Tecway’s take on on the arcade motorcycle racing genre. This genre has been getting a boost over the past couple of years, from Super Bikes to Nirin to Speed Rider 2. Tecway’s is called either Pop Moto or Dogfight Moto (Tecway’s site calls it ‘Pop’, Belrare’s ‘Dogfight’). The game features 5 selectable characters, 5 “settings” (perhaps they mean modes or levels?) some sort of selectable item system and 32″ screens. I can’t find any video of the game in action, nor any decent pictures beyond what you see above but the game should be available now. [Tecway game listings]

Next is another large tabletop coin-op game, which we are seeing more of these days. Called Tropical Ocean III, it is unclear what the actual objective of the game is as the Belrare site doesn’t really describe that part but my best guess is that it involves catching different sea animals with varied mini-games, sort of like Butterfly Garden by UNIS. The site says that there are “4 different game scenes and 45 species of animals with 8 play styles!” and the cabinet is designed for four players.

For our music fans out there, Belrare does happen to have a page up about Magic DJ now. There aren’t any significant details listed there but in case you wanted to see a little more on this one beyond what I filmed at IAAPA then this is the place to go.

Unfortunately there are few details other than that regarding these games that I can find but assuming that Tecway is at IAAPA again this November, we should expect to see these and more at the booth.

While not produced by Belrare or Tecway here is another game I stumbled across while looking for info on the above games. It’s called Bloody Taierzhuang, a light-gun game which features an attractive cabinet that sports a 47″ LCD screen  and realistic looking guns. Destroy oncoming invaders, try and get head shots for quick kills and compete for the high score. There aren’t any direct screenshots of this one but from a couple of the thumbnails it appears to have nice graphics. It’s impossible to the judge the game on that however so I will have to keep digging for more. It was at a recent tradeshow in Asia somewhere but I haven’t been able to figure out which one yet. The game is also listed on Dragon World’s site as being available now but no price is listed. [Dragon World English site]

The English side of Dragon World also happens to list 3D Group’s stereoscopic 3D game, Galaxy Puzzle. The cabinet shown here is different from what was seen on Coinopexpress’s website but it is the same game. This is supposed to be another title that doesn’t require any special glasses to see a 3D effect.

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DJ Max Technika 2 location tests in South Korea

April 28, 2010

Pentavision’s DJ Max Technika 2 was recently seen on a location test in South Korea and a couple of sites (Bemanistyle.com and Ruliweb.com) have the rundown on what the sequel will bring to the table this time around. As you might recall, the first DJ Max Technika was voted as the Game of the Year 2009 here at Arcade Heroes, showing that the game has a pretty strong fanbase out there.

Techinka 2 was a crowd pleaser at the loctest

DJ Max Technika 2 uses a new touch screen for enhanced multi-touch capabilities, a co-op mode for two people to play on the same screen, new buttons, and a plethora of new songs. The co-op mode looks like it could be a lot of fun and it should increase the earning potential of the game as well(you may recall that one surprise at last year’s IAAPA was a DJ Max Technika clone called Magic DJ which included two screens). As far as I know, PM Studios plans on bringing this to the US, although I haven’t heard any “official” announcements on it yet. Still, they are teaming up with Bemanistyle.com to sell the DJ Max Technika 2 Signature Collection set, which includes the sound track from the game along with some other goodies, so that seems like an endorsement for bringing the arcade version to the States.  We have no idea how much a DJMAXT2 will sell for but let’s hope that they start it at a price below where 1 started out at as I think that the high price is a big reason why the game hasn’t been seen in many locations. This has me wondering, would an upgrade kit be feasible here? The cabinets look similar enough but with a new touch screen that would make for a high priced kit, although I can imagine that for some who picked up the 1st DJ MAX, an upgrade kit would be a nicer option than buying another full cab.

Exclusive: the last coin-op project at Midway Chicago, RIP SQUAD: Raids Against the Reich

April 27, 2010

Back in 2001, Midway made a decision to dump their long standing coin-op division in favor of focusing developments on console gaming.  When that decision came down, there were still some arcade games floating around in the development cycle, which were subsequently canceled and were lost to the knowledge of the public. Fortunately, there are a number of ex-Midway employees who still work in coin-op development and one of them wanted to get the word out about Midway Chicago’s last game to have work done on it, a unique shooter called RIP SQUAD. Many thanks to Scott Pikulski for all of this information, including the pictures and the video. Scott is currently employed with Play Mechanix and has worked on a number of their games, including the recent Terminator Salvation Arcade and the upcoming Wheel of Fortune video redemption title.

Hit the break below for an exclusive look at RIP SQUAD, where I summarize an online interview I did with Scott regarding the game, along with plenty of pictures and three videos. Look for the full interview in an upcoming issue of Replay Magazine.

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Konami rolling out new arcade payment system in Japan: Paseli

April 27, 2010

How do you prefer to pay for your arcade experience? Coins? Magnetic strip cards? RFID tags or some other e-money service? We ran a poll on this long ago and while we didn’t get as large as a response as more recent polls, results from that indicated that most people preferred using good old coins in some form. Still, times change and with that evolution can come changes in the way we pay for arcade games. Konami is looking to do that with a new online e-money service in Japan that they are calling “Paseli” which is short for “Pay Smart Enjoy Life”. According to the English news page provided by Konami here is how it works:

Arcades have always been strictly coin-op businesses where customers must constantly feed money into a machine in order to keep playing. KONAMI developed its PASELI e-money service with an eye to overcoming the limits that this cash-based system imposes on both arcade operators and players alike. Now ready for full-scale implementation, this innovative service that enhances playability as well as pricing is sure to breathe new life into the arcade industry.

Taking the arcade experience to new heights, PASELI enables arcade operators to offer the kind of gameplay and price structures that go far beyond the limits of ordinary coin-op systems. Unlike traditional systems, nothing is set in stone with PASELI, operators can set flexible rates based on playing time, etc. to make it easier and more enjoyable for customers than ever before.

Players can use PASELI to buy items as they’re playing a game as well as customize characters to make the whole arcade experience more fun than ever. Gamers can also use PASELI to participate in special stages or tournaments where they can explore new and exciting facets of various games.

It sounds like a method by which you can create an account via their e-Amusement service and then buy a certain number of e-money there, then the operator will set how much is charged by the game per hour or per play and of course it can be used for microtransactions (which have been tried in the industry in the past, long before the idea really came up in the console world, see Double Dragon 3).

I personally don’t see much of a problem with microtransactions as long as the idea isn’t abused. They really didn’t go the route of actual microtransactions on the console side of things (as in charging 5¢ or 10¢ for something) but from my understanding MA’s work really well on Facebook and people pay out the nose for such things. Could Paseli lead to a coin-op version of Farmville? Who knows but I would like to see this system in action. Chances are we won’t be seeing it in the US anytime soon since e-Amusement never took off here (for my friends across the pond, remind me if eAmuse is in place in Europe currently or not) but maybe Konami will take a crack at it again. A couple of Japanese titles are already setup to use Paseli, Quiz Magic Academy 7 and Mahjong Fight Club Garyotensei, with other Konami titles making use of it in the future such as the upcoming DDR X2 which comes out in June or Metal Gear Arcade and Road Fighters 3D which come out sometime later this year.

[Via Bemanistyle.com] [Paseli site (Japanese)]

Blast from the past: When Arcades used to make more money than movies did

April 26, 2010

Remember the golden age of games when arcades alone used to make money hand over fist, making about three times more money in a year than movies did? Good times. Take a trip down memory lane (or in my case, discovery lane as this was written before I was born) in this old newspaper article from the Montreal Gazette, dated July 27th 1981. Some of the fascinating info you can glean from this: Pac-Man used to make $8.1 million a week (combining all locations; remember from that convention video in ’82 it was stated that it would typically earn $4000/week at a good location); Space Invaders used to make an estimated $7.7 million per week; Stern Electronics would produce 45,000 games in 1981, up from 1,179 games produced the year before; grocery stores began bringing in games as they made more money per square foot that food did.  Of course the industry didn’t see the bubble that was forming at the time, a bubble that would burst for various reasons at the end of the following year (harsh economic conditions, industry grew a little too fast, a proverbial flood of arcade ports to home consoles, a lot of consoles and PCs-as-consoles on the market, too many clones and sub-par bootlegs on the arcade market, etc.).

You can read the article here.

I also found an article from 1983 showcasing the release of Dragon’s Lair and how that had a temporary positive effect for arcades as players crowded around the machines. Dragon’s Lair was an expensive game compared to others at the time, selling for $4,000 a unit (which according to this would be about $8500 in 2009 dollars) but it still sold very well initially. You can read that article here.

GlobalVR releases NASCAR Team Racing kit, cabinet versions soon to follow

April 25, 2010

First revealed to us at IAAPA, and later seen at Amusement Expo 2010, GlobalVR has released their latest update to their arcade exclusive NASCAR Racing title called NASCAR Team Racing. If you missed out on the features that this update brings to the table you can check out the post & video from Amusement Expo 2010. The most significant addition to the game of course is the online play, which will allow games connected across the US to race against each other. The online features weren’t available at the show but from what information I have received, it sounds like it will work out similar to matchmaking on something like XBL or other online services that find the best pings available and matches those players up in a lobby. The game will also feature voice chat, which can be activated by pushing a button to talk (you might recall that Taito’s yet-to-be-released racer Top Speed was also bragging about using such an option).

NTR is available in four different forms, a 32″ standard, 42″ deluxe, 42″ motion platform and a kit for converting older NASCAR’s over to the new software. At least one distributor has posted pricing for these models, with the kit coming in for less than $1600 which is surprising. The kit will be made available tomorrow and the full cabinet versions will be released on different I’m not sure how much a used NASCAR is going for at the moment but a kit at that price means it should be a no-brainer conversion. The real question is how many locations have decent enough internet available to make good use of the kit? That can certainly vary upon the area, when I first opened my place I was stuck with crappy 512k DSL for a while and when I moved the standard options could only give me dial-up. Fortunately I came across an ISP that uses antennas and we’ve been cruising online ever since. I am quite interested to see how this does in the US, while online arcades aren’t anything new, it has been a while since those features have extended beyond posting high scores to leaderboards. Online racing is going to be in play in Japan, with the aforementioned Top Speed, UNIS’s Crazy Speed and also with Konami’s upcoming Road Fighters 3D.

Of course the drawback to this is if for some reason support is ever pulled for the servers in the future, then you loose that functionality. That it unless GVR came up with a clever way to avoid that, which is unlikely. Sadly that is the story of all online games one one level or another (and something that fans of playing Halo 2 online have had heartache over recently) but I don’t think that has kept the masses from playing online.

NASCAR Team Racing’s online features will go live on June 15th.

[GlobalVR’s website] [NASCAR Team Racing @ BHMVending / Weiner Distributing]

Weekend videos: Atari' Hercules Pinball and Taito's Ice Cold Beer

April 25, 2010

What do you do when there’s not much news to discuss? Find some videos showcasing the stranger or cooler products found in arcade days past. here are two videos from TNT Amusements, who has been restoring some rare games from the early 80’s. First is Hercules pinball, the largest commercially released pinball game ever, followed up by Taito’s Ice Cold Beer, a skill-based game for bars involving balancing a ball.