Greetings and welcome to my first round-up of arcade news from IAAPA 2021. It took place this week in Orlando, FL, where for some of you keeping up on Arcade Heroes via YouTube, Guilded or Discord, will have heard of some of these things already. But for those who prefer to read as well as watch, let me take this opportunity to provide more details as to what was there.
Note that I did film various booths at the show, but I haven’t had the time to upload those yet as I’ve been focusing more on the individual game pieces that are new as opposed to the booths, but we’ll get there Going alphabetical on companies that I’ve uploaded videos of so far:
Bandai Namco Amusements
Bandai Namco really came out swinging for this IAAPA, which was certainly a surprise given how we heard nothing about their plans in the run-up to the show. Unlike previous IAAPA events, they did not show off any Raw Thrills or Adrenaline products, it was wholly focused on their own games (as mentioned previously, this is because of Bandai Namco Amusements Europe’s distribution relationships). This made for a more open booth, which can be a little easier to film.
I already discussed two of their major video game announcements earlier this week – Maximum Tune 5DX+ and Pac-Man Battle Royale Chompionship. Both games were getting constant play, and it looks like they did really well. MT5DX+ begins shipping in December and Pac-Man early next year. Here are the videos on those if you missed them:
For everything else, which I’ll cover in BNA’s booth video, they had some redemption games such as Pac-Man Power Pellets, Mallet Mayhem, Ball Madness, a new version of their Justice League air hockey table, Red Zone Rush, some Pac-Man’s Pixel Bash cabinets (including a new taller cocktail version…which I really didn’t get any video of now that I think about it), and World’s Largest Pac-Man. Mallet Mayhem was originally pitched by someone on the European side and is one of the more interesting whacker-style games I’ve seen, but it was still early.
Pricing was being mentioned for pretty much everything, although keep in mind that it’ll vary some between distributors. One note on that with Chompionship – I stated in the video and in the original post that there would be an upgrade kit to original Pac-Man Battle Royales, but it’s important to note that the kit is ONLY available if you purchase a new Chompionship cabinet. That is what allows an operator to access the 8-player mode. Also, the QR codes on the pedestal version will be made into one to simplify the process.
Also, I got to play some of Pac-Man Compionship with Frank Cosentino (Namco on the front right) and Eugene Jarvis (back left). Video coming soon
Also in a smaller booth than what they had from a previous show, exA was there to demonstrate their 2p and 4p cabinets and a bunch of the games. Fortunately, ShouTime (the CEO of exA-Arcadia in case you are not familiar with his screen name) was kind enough to show me several in-development titles upon request, a few of which I’ve posted to YouTube. Unfortunately, there were titles like Akai/Crimson Katana EXA that I couldn’t film, but I did get to play (I think that fans will be happy with it, particularly with the EXA Mode. It is following the same pattern seen with DoDonPachi EXA, offering existing releases of the game along with the new EXA Mode).
Note that for any new-new titles mentioned here, expect them to ship next year (excepting Cotton, which may ship in December).
For those games that I did get to play, let’s start with a fighter, Dynamite Bomb – People of a Certain Town. What should interest people in the fighting game community (FGC), this entire game is being designed by ex-Arc System Works staff, including those who have worked on the Guilty Gear games. It’s also notable that this is going to be the first from-scratch exclusive to the system, i.e., it’s not based upon any existing port, old or new. It also uses the same engine as Axel City 2, which has been heavily modified to operate on the exA platform. Speaking of Axel City 2, I did capture quite a bit of footage on that, but it’ll be posted later after I’ve posted more previously unseen game footage. Also, I saw and played Samurai Shodown V Perfect; I did film that, but its release depends upon approval from SNK, so hang tight there.
Mentioned above was Cotton, a shoot ’em up franchise that got its start in arcades back in March 1991. To celebrate 30 years of this cute ’em up where you play as a witch flying a broom, Success has developed Cotton Rock ‘N’ Roll. We’ve discussed on the blog before that the game did receive an arcade release in Japan for the APM3 network, and that version will also be released to consoles. But for the rest of the arcades in the world, there’s the exA version. This will add 2-player simultaneous play, lower input lag, and more that will be exclusive to this particular version.
Like Dynamite Bomb, here’s another game I saw and played at Amusement Expo 21, but missed out on filming – Shadow Gangs X. It’s ok though, as now I got to film and play a more complete version – the female character wasn’t implemented yet in the AEI build. She is here, and you’ll see some alternating play after I jumped in. This game fits the mold of titles like Bad Dudes Vs. Dragonninja, Shinobi, and Rolling Thunder 2 – a genre that’s been missing from arcades for much longer than watercraft racers. While this game is on Steam, the exA version’s additions and polishing will make it a much better title, although I am unsure how close this build you see here is to production final.
One I missed was Cosmic Digger, so that’ll have to be on the roster for next time.
They had a sizable booth space, a little bigger than AEI21 but smaller than IAAPA19. While all of their games were getting attention, the main attraction was Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade in its two models. These videos give you the rundown on the game; I’ll also be posting a video showing the overall booth later on. This game launched in 2018 for mobile and is also available on Switch and PC, but the arcade version is somewhat different.
Oh, and speaking of this game, it looks like IGS already has a VR version of this ready to go. It is likely going to be similar to Overtake VR, which has been sold by Wahlap. This was posted this week by the software developer IGS and doesn’t show the arcade cabinet, but it’s coming soon. Who will carry it though is another question – while LAI could, they could go with someone else for international. We’ll stay tuned.
As discussed in the IAAPA 2021 preview, this company debuted their reproduction and licensed build of Taito’s 1982 electromechanical piece, Ice Cold Beer. They also had iiRcade there although I didn’t really take a look at that one. They requested no video but did allow me to take some photos, which I’ll share here – they really know their games and are working to make this feel exactly like the 1982 piece, with new tech of course. The gameplay and artwork are all the same but with Bluetooth capabilities, it sounds like they’ll be able to offer software variations with the gameplay.
Can you guess which of these are originals and which is the repro?
They will make some minor changes to the artwork, such as adding bubbles on the left within the froth (missing in this copy but present in the originals), once it reaches production.
The control panel.
They also recreated the mechanics of the controls as precisely as possible, using leaf switches and such. Thanks to the two originals, you could go and compare both the look and feel to see how they nailed it.
Sega had a smaller than normal booth but packed it edge-to-edge with games. While there were no surprises (no Jumanji, which was mentioned on their IAAPA exhibitor profile), they had three new-new titles to keep visitors engaged: Men In Black, Jet Blaster, and VR Agent. We’ll start with MiB.
You can’t go into this one expecting a typical full-blown Sega light-gun game – it’s crafted for videmption play. The levels are pretty brief and the graphics aren’t anything to go crazy about (they remind me a lot of Dream Raiders, which had a unique style to them), but I have to appreciate the number of levels that it randomly puts up and it has some humor at the end of each level where the MiB Agent is explaining to you what really happened after you’ve been neurolyzed. The cabinet design is striking and impressive, the LEDs all going all white when the Agent uses the neurolyzer at the end.
If you’re craving the presence of a water racing game in arcades again, then Jet Blaster has you covered. The last time I can recall anything like this appearing in our business was Sega’s Wave Runner GP, but that’s a pretty rare game(I admit, I had to look it up Never seen one in person). More probably remember something like Namco’s Aqua Jet from ’96. Anyways, Jet Blaster brings the concept into modern times and it does a great job at doing so. The main appeal of this game is the motion base – while it’s been a few years since I used anything like a jetski, I was impressed with how this simulated the bouncy feel of the water. I suppose it could use a little more rumble to mimic the feel of the engine, but it’s still fine. The game itself has you racing against several opponents on a few different winding tracks, but one thing that surprised me was the OutRun-like branching path system. You’ll occasionally come across tunnels with “Easy” and “Hard,” with that sending you on the different paths. As it is, to experience all of the different levels, you’ll have to remember what you took in the past.
Last for the new-new games is VR Agent by 3MindWave. I have to make a correction on some things I mentioned about this game earlier – Wahlap is not involved with it. Wahlap serves as the game’s distributor in China, while Sega is distributing it everywhere else. That aside, this game was getting a lot of attention at the show, one of the most played games at the Sega booth. As mentioned in the video, it feels like a first-person shooter with the freedom of movement but is still on rails. One thing I forgot to mention in this video is that the model shown is NOT what Sega will be selling; Their version will come with two monitors & headsets, just like is shown in this post. It will not be sold in a single-player model at this time, from what I was told; It can also link two sets together for up to four players.
Apart from some prize and redemption games, they also had the new DX cabinet for Mission: Impossible Arcade, ATV Slam SD, ( <-video for these two coming soon) Mario & Sonic Olympics Tokyo, Daytona Championship USA SD, and Hot Racers. I also will have a video of the full Sega booth posting before too long, but I don’t want to wait on doing this report for finishing all of those – I hope you don’t mind.
Between the unfortunate passing of Ken Anderson and the pandemic, Touch Magix did not have their own booth this year and have joined up with Elaut USA to distribute & promote their products in North America. The games are all built here in the States (at Fun Company in Wisconsin), so when a cabinet is completed off the production line, at least it doesn’t have to sit on a boat for weeks on end.
As mentioned on the site previously, their newest piece is the videmption game Mega Blaster. While it isn’t the first plunger-type game in it’s class, it is the first that I’ve ever encountered where the plunger feels like a plunger – there’s a gearbox underneath that has a grinding crank in it and a little bit of pushback. It’s a nice touch for a simple game. It’s also one of the first videmption games in 4K. They also had Carnival Cups, SpaceWarp 66 65″, and Drift ‘N’ Thrift.
That’s all for now – I’m going to continue to upload videos and will be getting Round 2 up ASAP. Thanks for reading!