Back at the beginning of 2018, we heard about a new multiplayer indie game by the name of Tipsy Raccoons, developed by Adam Wray of glitchbit. He had noticed that bar/arcades really had a thing for retro games, but the problem with retro stuff is 1) maintenance 2) availability (as an example, every bar/arcade out there wants to have an original Tapper, but good luck finding one of those as only about 3600 were ever built back in 1983/84. Fewer than that have survived 30-40 years later, many end up in personal collections, etc.). There also haven’t been a flood of games made for bar/arcades over the past decade – a few here and there like Pac-Man Battle Royale or Killer Queen, and you always have the “ol’ reliables” like Golden Tee or Big Buck Hunter, but most games have been developed for the FEC market.
Even then, none of those games were given a specific focus on a bar’s primary activity – drinking – so Tipsy Raccoons was well positioned as the “World’s First Drinkcade” game. In 2-4 player mini-game battles, any losers of a game were required to take a ship from their drink, which has to be placed inside of one of the game’s specialized drink holders. These patented holders were sensors that could detect if anyone really had taken a sip.
Tipsy Raccoons was given a limited release back in the summer of 2018, where eventually the game found it’s way into a bar that was frequented by some Incredible Technologies staff. They were very impressed with the concept, reached out to Adam and began to redesign the game into something that could reach not only bar/arcades, but traditional arcades and even FECs.
Rebranded as Retro Raccoons, the game has received a large number of upgrades and additions, bringing the number of mini-games up to 40, with more titles delivered digitally over the internet. Every time you play, the game picks 8 games from the larger pool; You also must have a minimum of 2-players to enjoy the fun. The cabinet has also gone through some changes to grab ETL certification.
It operates in one of two modes: Cash Mode or Cheers Mode. Cash mode is for the traditional arcade route: Money is inserted through the bill acceptor (no coins, just bills) and drinks are not required. Cheers Mode is just for bars. Many bar/arcades put all of their games on free play, charging for drinks and maybe just entry. In this mode, drinks are the currency to play, where the patron places their bottle/can/cup into the holder of their choice. Again, if you lose at one of the 8 randomized mini-games, you must take a sip from that drink to continue.
When IT showcased the game at Amusement Expo 2019, it received a very positive reaction from operators there, especially from those who operate in bars for their routes. The plan was for this game to launch in 2020, but we all know why that didn’t happen. Fortunately, the project survived and Adam was able to use the time to keep improving the software. That not only includes more mini-games, but also things like an awesome new chiptune soundtrack.
At the moment, the game is aiming to launch this summer, although the precise date is unknown due to manufacturing & shipping difficulties that are affecting a variety of industries right now. I am not sure what the final price will be, but it will be well under the average of what most games come in at these days (well under $10k).
Switching to opinion mode for a moment, I think this is exactly the kind of thing that the industry needs to bounce back from the past year. It is true that I have long argued for more content that is lower cost and made for the street, but that is even more important right now. While the pandemic was hard on everybody, the bar/arcade scene suffered a bit more due to the complex restrictions in certain areas that have had extra rules in place for bars or restaurants. New content is key to continued success, and given how successful home arcade solutions have been lately, original classics have lost a lot of their appeal (in my situation, a lot of my classics have been performing worse, even Ms. Pac-Man, while recent games have been performing better) but most bar/arcades aren’t going to even think about a $30k+ game that was made for FECs (many won’t even consider a game in the $8k range, unless it’s a pinball machine). Most will be looking for used equipment, but if you can proffer something that is new but in the same range as some used equipment, that makes it competitive. Beyond pricing though, a multiplayer mini-game fest also hits on something that some people have been longing for again – a unique & fun social experience.
What are your thoughts on this one?