Archive for the ‘AAMA’ category

ASI 2008 News Recap

April 2, 2008

Just to help you in case you missed/overlooked anything, here is a recap of some of the news to come out of ASI this past week, either at the show or because of the show:

Betson/Raw Thrills’ releases The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift Kit – We first heard about this in the comments section on one of our recent posts and it was confirmed at ASI with several cabinets converted to Tokyo Drift. The kit can go into Crusin’ USA, Crusin’ World and SF Rush 2049 and will cost between $2200 and $2600. It includes the game board, artwork and I believe the steering wheel. Done right the cabinets look great, even brand new if the monitor is in good condition and the cabinet itself is cleaned up.

Big Buck Hunter Pro reaches 10,000 units made – 10,000 is the golden number of sales in the coin-op industry and BBHPro is the latest game to break that mark. Along with this we are also seeing the release of BBHPro Tournament Edition with several cool online features that includes Hunting Parties – the game will alert others in your hunting party about the progress of others so if one of your friends beats your score, it will send you an e-mail or text alerting you that you’ve been beat. Great idea and we should learn more soon.

Big Buck Safari released – it is official now and it costs less than $5000 with more features than BBHPro has (minus the new online version). The Deluxe version is still being worked on but was at the ASI show and I was told that an online version of BBS will eventually make it’s way to arcades.

GlobalVR to release Need For Speed: Carbon in arcades – we don’t have any details on this yet but it is clear that GVR is targeting the technical arcade racer angle.

iMOtion to release Power Boat – a little know developer in the arcade scene is pumping up their selection with a new motion-based boat racing game called Power Boat. We hope to get more information on this one soon but I did see a video of it in action and it looks good.

TouchTunes and Merit to release portable touchscreen tablet devices – bartop touch screen games are about to move into the portable territory with new devices by both TouchTunes and Merit. I saw the TouchTunes model which included a D-Pad and two buttons (which weren’t functioning on the prototype model but should be later on) and it even has a credit card reader built-in to the unit.

Namco to use Wii hardware in future arcade games and the possibility of Pac-Man CE in arcades – In my interview with Namco I discovered that they are considering using the Wii hardware to power future arcade games as a means of lowering development costs. This does not mean that they’ll use Wiimotes and most likely they will modify the hardware to make it more powerful than the home edition (a common practice by Namco). Also we could see Pac-Man CE make it to arcades at on point in time but there are no details on this other than the idea is on the table.

Andamiro releases Oh! Hammer 2 game – Andamiro has released an interestinghammer2.png coin-op game that uses soft mallets and an interactive screen with several mini-games built-in to the unit including a few head-2-head games for two players. There are 8 single player stages, 2 co-op stages and 6 versus stages. [Oh!Hammer 2 site] (Thanks to Kevin Williams for a correction on the title)

Self-redemption cabinets now available – Smart Industries has made some new cabinets that can house redemption prizes and count the tickets for customers and let them choose what they want, thus allowing for certain venues to have a redemption setup without the big desk and manpower needed to watch over it.

If I forgot to add anything, I’ll be sure to update this post.

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Interviews with Michael Rudowicz of the AAMA and Frank Cosentino of Namco America

April 1, 2008

While at ASI I had the opportunity to interview Mike Rudowicz, President of the AAMA and Frank Cosentino of Namco America. These audio clips are far from perfect – there is a lot of background noise but for the most part they are understandable. Mike’s interview is more understandable as there is far less background noise as we were able to do this in a room a little ways off the floor. I do apologize for the low quality of the Namco clip and I have been working on writing it down as I tried fooling around with the equalizer to get it to sound better but there wasn’t much improvement. So before the clips get too old I’ll post them here – if anyone is an expert at cleaning up audio clips (specifically the Namco clip) where the source is fairly bad it would be appreciated if you could help.

Interview with Mike Rudowicz of the AAMA (roughly 10 min long, ok quality)

Interview with Frank Cosentino of Namco (roughly 15 min long, poor quality, it does cut off towards the end).

To give you a rundown of what to expect on the Namco clip for the hard to understand parts, first we talk a little bit about Namco’s redemption efforts, then Maximum Tune 3 and how the game works in letting one build their car and how the game remembers how you drive, a little bit about Tekken 6 and how they haven’t decided on releasing it yet due to it’s high cost and waning interest in fighters, what Namco might be doing with the Wii including using the Wii hardware to power future games (much like the Triforce hardware where they modified a Gamecube to power games like Mario Kart GP) which may or may not include motion-based controls, a little discussion about future developments including some talk about the Gundam Pods in Japan  (could we see them in the States or something like it), online gaming and Namco’s plans for including more online features in games. Also after the interview I asked them about possibly bringing Pac-Man CE (which appeared on XBLA only a while back and was designed as a true sequel of sorts to the original Pac-Man) to the arcades and in a funny coincidence they had been throwing that idea themselves “just a few days ago”. I think it would be an excellent idea, giving the game exposure to those that don’t have XBL and maybe they could add a few features that wasn’t in the Xbox version.

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ASI 2008 – my view (part 2)

March 29, 2008

Continuing on with my ASI 2008 coverage is a continued look into products that one could find at the show.

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Coastal Amusements had their new Sea Wolf game on display which received a lot of attention(they also had a number of redemption games there too). They had six units setup that were constantly being played and I could tell why – it is a very fun game. The gameplay is quite simple like a classic game – the only thing I don’t like about it is the price tag which I guess in the redemption sector is where they’d like it but for the video sector is a little high. A video of this is coming up in a post later today.

Trio-Tech had their UFO Stomper on display (which I also have a video of) along with their Motion Wave Theater and Jett Rider. UFO Stomper is a lot of fun with many mini-games built into the unit that really can give you a work out. It was fairly popular from what I saw and I wore myself out going through the adventure mode. You might be able to find this at an FEC but for a couple of reasons (size and price) it is impractical for small locations. Great attraction though. I was hoping to see a Wasteland Racer there but it looks like they have dumped it (as it even isn’t on their website).

Andamiro had three Pump It Up games setup – all looked quite nice and I saw people playing them everytime I walked past the booth. They also had a fun video redemptionphto0002.jpg game called Hammer 2 where the players use soft mallets to smack video images on the table, sort of like whack-a-mole but more advanced. It was some nice fun for two players.

Beyond that the floor featured many redemption items and a few touchscreen devices, including new tabletPC-like models from Touch Tunes (pictured) and Merit. There also were a number of air hockey tables on the floor, each with some new ideas that mostly involved sound. My brother and I played a coupletouchtunes.jpg of games at the Barron Games booth, including a match where you could have four players to a table or each player could “dual-wield” (OK, my term, not theirs) the hockey puck deflectors. It also had a bumper in the middle of the field. I saw another air hockey table(it might have been at the ICE booth) that had a shield in the middle to avoid flying pucks and also used some new ideas with sound. It had been a long time since I had played air hockey, I forgot how fun it could be so I will have to look into one of these for my own arcade.

While it’s not a game, I did come across a booth where they were demonstrating some LCD monitors to go into standard arcade cabinets. The monitors were made by Ally Star Technologies in Taiwan and overall I liked the quality of what I saw. They had several sizes of monitors and most on display had a widescreen display ratio and good contrast ratios and options. They make screens from 8.4″ in size to 47″, each size improving in technical specs (the 47″ screen can do 1080p). I am thinking about one of these widescreen displays for my conversion of a cabinet into The Act – the actual model that Cecropia made had an LCD widescreen monitor so I’d like to get something like it.

Finally I did come across one new development in the redemption sector that is interesting. It takes the self-redemption concept to the level of not needing employees at a desk to count tickets and grab prizes for people. Called the Database Prize Center by Smart Industries, the redemption counter is basically transformed into some cabinets where the prizes have the value printed on a sticker – the person feeds their tickets into the machine and it lets them choose what they want (as long as they have the tickets to afford the item). It does essentially replace redemption arcade employees with machines but there are some types of locations that may not want to run a redemption desk or can’t do it at all that this is useful for. If it grows (initial reports state that it’s already proven to work successfully in a number of different venues) it could become a standard thing in the industry so I thought that it was worth mentioning.

So that was ASI in a nutshell. Today they are having the show open to the public and we’ll see how that goes and what people think of the offerings there. I also stopped by The Star Trek Experience at the Hilton hotel – for a Trekkie like myself it was awesome. I even bought a “KHAAANN!” t-shirt which looks great. Stay tuned for some ASI videos!

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ASI 2008 – my view (part 1)

March 29, 2008

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 finalindyjones.jpg 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!

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The Stinger Report looks at ASI 2008 (part 1)

March 29, 2008

ASI ends today and with it of course we have updates from what has happened at the show. First, here is a look at the show from The Stinger Report’s point of view, then I’ll go on in the next post or two describing my experience.

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ASI opened to a greatly reduced show floor and major departures from leading corporations as Namco and Sega see executives move on.

Sega had a vastly reduced presence with only two videos to show: RaceTV’s latest build with password, and Primeval Hunt. The latest software release for both – and that was it! Their booth was hard to find off the show floor with no large banners up for display to help attendees locate them.

Namco also had a limited video showing, with no new releases – redemption reigning kingasimain2.jpg on their booth. The operation spoke off the record with The Stinger
Report about the Tekken 6 situation (not shown) and promised an official statement at the end of the show.

Global VR was a example of good video presence, with a large network
line-up of NASCAR, and the new Blazing Angels WWII flyer all getting major coverage in the video desert of the show.

Betson / Raw Thrills another major video winner – crowds flocking to blast the wild animals of Africa on Big Buck Safari – along with the launch of the kit from DRIFT, Raw Thrills rocked the show. Betson did confirm that they were still supporting Konami with one Dance Dance SuperNova2 machine on booth hidden away to one corner.

Andamiro had their latest Pump It Up Pro, and a new screen basher game (more to come on that later).

Finally in this brief run down of the video on the show floor TrioTech had their UFO Stomper, showing off the latest of the mini-games and drawing happy crowds to the physical stomper action.

Big anticipation to the public four hour session on Saturday, rumors thick on what can be expected.

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Reminder: ASI 2008 this week in Vegas

March 24, 2008

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The UK had ATEI, Japan had AOU and now the US is going to have ASI. Known as the Amusement Showcase International, ASI is held every year in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and in addition to lectures for operators to help them improve their business, we’ll also get to see the latest arcade titles that are already on the scene or will be headed to the scene later this year. You might have noticed that over the past few days we’ve seen more announcements of new games coming along and a lot of that has to do with publishers gearing up for the show.

As a reminder for anyone interested in going, this Saturday the show will open to the public for four hours so everyone can get a chance to come in and check out the new games. They also will be holding two big tournaments “one for the public and one for celebrities – and a raffle benefiting the American Amusement Machine Charitable Foundation, for six unbelievable prizes, including the iPhone, a Panasonic Wireless Home Theater System and Global VR’s EA Sports™ Nascar® Racing game.”

I only live about 7 hours away from Vegas by car but unfortunately I won’t be able to make it this year due to certain financial circumstances. But that won’t stop us from reporting any news that we come across that spills out of the show so stay tuned as the week progresses.

[ASI Website] [Discuss on the Forum]

IFPA's March Pinball Madness

March 13, 2008

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One of the competitions to be featured in conjunction with this year’s ASI event is the International Flipper Pinball Association’s World Pinball Championship. The tournament will be taking place at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas on March 28th-30th and willifpa5.jpg be offering a prize package of over $14,000 along with a brand new pinball machine from Stern. Competitors will be coming from 12 different countries to compete and spectator’s are welcome.

While a lot of kids these days probably wouldn’t understand the appeal of watching people compete in pinball tournaments, I think it would be great to watch some of the best players in the world duke it out. There is always something cool about watching someone play a pinball or arcade game when they are really good at it.

For more information visit the IFPA site or pinballhall.org

[Via Play Meter Magazine News]

IFPA’s March Pinball Madness

March 13, 2008

ifpalogo.jpg

One of the competitions to be featured in conjunction with this year’s ASI event is the International Flipper Pinball Association’s World Pinball Championship. The tournament will be taking place at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas on March 28th-30th and willifpa5.jpg be offering a prize package of over $14,000 along with a brand new pinball machine from Stern. Competitors will be coming from 12 different countries to compete and spectator’s are welcome.

While a lot of kids these days probably wouldn’t understand the appeal of watching people compete in pinball tournaments, I think it would be great to watch some of the best players in the world duke it out. There is always something cool about watching someone play a pinball or arcade game when they are really good at it.

For more information visit the IFPA site or pinballhall.org

[Via Play Meter Magazine News]

Anti-violent video game laws brewing in state legislatures – what effect on coin-op?

March 4, 2008

In the world of video games, we’ve always had to battle negative and usually erroneous opinions regarding our hobby, especially when it comes to violent video games. There was a time when arcades were central to the “controversy” as games such as Mortal Kombat  came along and gained popularity.  There have been a few other violent games in arcades, including what was probably the first violent game ever, Death Race which was released way back in 1976. But as time has passed the number of violent arcade games has decreased and governments put their attention on home and PC games – which they have already regulated with a detailed rating system and at least in the US, fines can be imposed on stores that sell these games towards minors. It doesn’t seem to matter that in the end it’s in the hands of the parents as for many governments it’s never enough as they seek to satisfy their appetite for regulation and power. This is of course a sensitive subject but it comes to mind as I read a post by the AAMA on CoinOpToday.com. They state:

STATE VIDEO VIOLENCE UPDATE
With many state legislatures returning to session in January, there are again a series of bills that have been introduced that seek to restrict access by minors to games that contain violent content.  To date, all of these legislative efforts have been focused on the home- and PC-based side of the industry, with most attempting to restrict access to
games on the basis of ESRB ratings of “M” or “AO” which are not relevant for the coin-op industry.

The coin-op industry uses a different rating system (click on the thumbnail to enlarge)gamerate.jpg than home games where a series of color-coded stickers with a brief description of the game content are printed on them. Green stickers are the equivalent of “E”, Red stickers are the equivalent of “M”. The AAMA also writes about pending legislation for coin-op gaming in a few states which I’m putting this after the post break as I have some more to say on the subject.

(more…)

Pinball segment on Good Morning America

January 22, 2008

As we reported last month, pinball had a brief moment in the spotlight last Friday on the US national news program Good Morning America. Here is that segment – the quality isn’t perfect but it lets you check it out in case you missed it.

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