They say that February is a month for lovers and when it comes to arcade releases, this particular February has been great for lovers of arcade games. As you could already tell from the headline, we have a couple of highly anticipated games which have begun to ship but in case you missed it, this month has also seen new releases from Sega such as Storm Rider 2 and Drone Racing Genesis, from Adrenaline with NFS Heat Takedown, from UNIS with Sailors Quest VR, from Andamiro with SpongeBob VR Bubble Coaster and even a new release for the Neo Geo MVS with The Eye of Typhoon – Tsunami Edition. It’s a bit more loaded than usual for a month and now we get to add two more games to the list, both of which I’ve seen people asking for lately.

Ice Cold Beer [Retro Arcade Remake]

The official and licensed remake of Taito’s 1983 Ice Cold Beer began shipping out yesterday. When it’s said to be a faithful recreation of Taito’s electromechanical coin-op creation, that feels like an understatement – the new ones are spot in ever aesthetic and functional detail. MSRP on these is $5499 but a few different distributors are carrying it so perhaps pricing will vary slightly between them (unless it’s MAP pricing, where all resellers are required to sell at MSRP, but that’s uncommon). Retro Arcade Remake will be remaking Zeke’s Peak and shipping that out this summer.

I’m rather curious to see how this will perform on location, as some operators swear by how well the original game performed for them. Times change of course but in a way this is competing for the same kind of interest you’d find with pinball (RAR has even mentioned pinball’s long lead times in their marketing). Of course a bar/arcade can have both, but given how the cost on pinball is getting higher while the ROI isn’t improving with it, I’m interested to see how this challenger might do.

Dead Heat Unleashed [Bandai Namco Amusements]

But that’s not all! We have another racing game that has entered the arena, one that I wasn’t expecting to launch right now, like NFS Heat Takedown. Bandai Namco’s next racer, developed by the Maximum Tune team, is now shipping as well. There are no major changes to the software from what was seen at IAAPA 2022 nor EAG 2023, just “minor tweaks.”  This comes with 8 levels and vibrant graphics but no save system (since many of you have asked). The official game page for it is here;I have not heard a price on this but as usual, interested operators can contact their preferred Bandai Namco distributor.

Here’s the production cabinet, which also features new side art than what was seen at IAAPA:

Dead Heat Unleashed cabinet

I would normally share a video of the game that I’ve shot but thanks to Bandai Namco, I have some official screenshots to share with you instead. For videos, you can find tracks like Chicago, London, Vegas, and Shanghai at those respective links.

Dead Heat Unleashed by Bandai Namco Amusements

Both of these are exclusive to arcades, although that point is super obvious with ICB. That’s one thing I’ve grown to love about electromechanical games – there’s no way to do an “arcade perfect” port of a physical machine, the digital recreations always lose something in the process (ie., digital recreations of physical games lose that “special something,” no matter how good it is)

I’ve speculated on the effect of having so many racers on the market at the same time but it won’t take long to see how it all pans out. By my count, which might be off by one or two, we now have eighteen racers in production – more if you were to count each model (SD, DX, VR) separately. It’ll be nineteen once MotoGP VR starts shipping; Twenty if Hyper Cross starts to ship soon. That’s great for choice, so I’m not complaining there, I’d much rather have a range of options at different prices than just a couple of super expensive games. I’m just wondering how it will end up shaking out. One effect is that we probably won’t be seeing a lot of new (i.e., never before seen) racers at IAAPA 2023, where I expect to see more gun games popping up.

What are your thoughts on these two releases?

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