robot7.jpg Semi-via the mercurial Jiji, we ran into the Insomnia.ac Japanese game blog, which is delightfully well-written and geeky (looks like the blogger is a SiliconEra contributor.)

In any case, one particular post, on Japanese arcade IC cards, is particularly informative/fun - it's noted: "Now covering arcade gaming in Japan means IC cards, and lots of 'em. Since Sega demonstrated how useful (and lucrative) they can be with Virtua Fighter 4, the cards have been steadily increasing in popularity among developers, to the point where now roughly half the new games support them."

A big load of cards, for "Ghost Squad, Virtua Fighter 5, Wangan Midnight: Maximum Tune 2, Half-Life 2: Survivor, Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, Mario Kart Arcade GP and Power Smash 3" are then shown, and it's explained: "The cards may not be revolutionary, but they have now become essential to the arcade industry, because the new games are built from the ground up to take advantage of them. How exactly they go about doing that in large part determines the extent of each game's success or failure." Also check the blog's other entries for some good shmup location tests, etc.