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Arcade

California Extreme Hits August With Awesomeness

June 1, 2007 4:54 PM |

- We've previously covered the awesome, fan-run California Extreme classic arcade and pinball show, and Arcade Heroes has revealed the latest info on this year's event, which is going off in just a couple of months.

As they note: "The event will be taking place on August 11-12th at the Parkside Hall in San Jose, California. Those who are able to go to the event can expect to find a huge selection of both video arcades and pins (last year featured more than 400 games on free play; click here for a partial list of games that are confirmed to be there this year) and if you have your own games and the means to travel with them, you can take them to the event!"

I've previously listed some of the awesome and incredibly rare titles that are brought by collectors in recent years - and AtariGames.com has posted lots of pictures from last year's turn-out for those interesting in ogling some more. And look, here's three generations bonding over the potentially arm-snapping Panic Park, yay. Basically, if you're in the Bay Area, and you love arcade/pinball machines, you can't miss this show - it simply isn't allowed.

Guilty Gear Creators Make Battle Fantastic

June 1, 2007 11:51 AM |

- It's a sad thing that the 2D fighting game is quite unwell in the West - and I'm not really sure why - possibly because $60 is just too much to pay for niche imports, and retail games that sell for $20-$30 (a better price point for many import fighters) and are low-profile just won't make their money back easily.

[Although having said that, newer Guilty Gear titles are rumored to be getting a U.S. release soon through Aksys, and Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 1 just got confirmed for PS2 by SNK. UPDATE: Also, KOF XI and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum are coming to the States, ta for heads-up Corey.]

Anyhow, the latest intriguing Japanese arcade fighter (likely to come to consoles in some fashion, too) is Arc System Works' Battle Fantasia, and HDRLying has a good overview of the game, which is made by the Guilty Gear creators.

What's particularly interesting: "Battle Fantasia is a vastly different game from ASW’s offerings in the past. The is far slower than the likes of Guilty Gear, and far cuter than either Hokuto no Ken or Guilty Gear. Also unlike the two, Battle Fantasia is entirely polygonal. Much like Capcom’s shortlived Street Fighter EX series, Battle Fantasia acts like a regular 2D fighter, despite its polygonal graphics." So fighting on a 2D plane with 3D art - neat.

Looking around online, Insomnia.ac did a brief preview of the arcade test late last year, and on YouTube, a Japanese user has a bunch of videos of the game in action - though they're a bit blurry. Also, hardcore fighting game blog 'Super Nohoho Fighter II X' has been translating the controls and manual, which are both complex and interesting - though as always, their complexity is a bit of a barrier to entry for the non-hardcore.

The Existential Malaise Of The Japanese Arcade

May 26, 2007 5:12 AM |

- Sometimes, I think that GSW commenters cock a snook a little unfairly at 'powerhouse game blog' Kotaku - and while I agree that the informedness of its contributors varies, like any organ, I really enjoyed the newly posted, Brian Ashcraft-penned feature 'Sex, Gambling, But Not Games in Japanese Arcade Hell' - as a work of photojournalism, as well as a downtrodden ramble through the dysfunctional Japanese psyche.

Why? It has fluid writing like this: "A row of taxis lines up across from the New Shinbashi Building, not the Shin Shinbashi Building. An old lady is laying in the street, and I can hear the rhythmic siren of an ambulance. Businessmen in ill-fitting suits move in transit from work to bars, and a gaggle of young girls wearing thigh-highs and mini-skirts cluster near the doorway, putting on eye liner and talking on cell phones."

And it has depressing, neon-flecked prose like this: "An old man sits down in flannel, stuffs a coin in and begins playing. His fingernails are dirty, and I write down the game's title: Cherry. Bonus. IV... Another Konami banner tells me that "Wing" has mahjong — Along with Virtua Fighter and Tekken. The game cabinets are deserted, and salarymen sit hunched over, lighting cigarettes, putting them out, lighting them again. They don't notice me." So it works. More fatalistic urban decay in video game blogs, please.

Outrun 2 SP SDX Gets Backseat Driving Vegas Welcome

May 24, 2007 5:54 PM |

- Last year, sister site Gamasutra chatted to Sega Entertainment U.S.A. about the rebirth - or at least some minor stirring - of the U.S. arcade scene, and we just got a press release revealing some concrete additions they're making to their GameWorks arcades.

It explains: "Sega Entertainment U.S.A., Inc’s. (SEUI), casual dining brand, GameWorks, will install three different, and very original, gaming attractions to the entertainment mix at its 14 GameWorks locations. The company has added 3 units of the newly released OutRun 2 SP SDX Driving attraction to their Las Vegas , Detroit and Chicago venues, install 84 Sega UFO Catchers throughout the company's US locations and is testing Virtual Bowling by Brunswick as an attraction in Las Vegas ."

Of these, OutRun 2 SP SDX is definitely the most interesting - Kikizo already has a bunch of detailed screenshots from the upgrade to the OutRun 2 upgrade (!), which was originally unveiled last year, and Sega explains the twist: "In traditional racing games, one player drives the car. In the new version, two players are seated in the car and each has their own steering wheel, brake and accelerator."

Wha? "The control of the game is determined by how well a driver maneuvers the course - once they hit a wall or crash, control will immediately shifts to the second player. This will happen for the entire length of the game, and during stage changes as well, sometimes changing player control 6-7 times. Players can easily check their rankings in the middle of the race, through the electrical bulletin board attached to the game... CCD cameras are also installed at each cabinet to take pictures of players, and are then aired on a large monitor." An interesting gameplay mechanic and deluxe giant playscreens means a unique arcade experience, which can only be good for the biz. Bet the machines cost a bomb, though!

Welcome To The New Space Order

May 13, 2007 1:25 PM |

- When I was in Tokyo for TGS last year, one of the most notable things was the complexity of some of the arcade games - here's a blurry pic of one of them, which was a complex battle sim using CCG cards recognized by the arcade cabinet, far beyond beetle or horseracing sims in complexity.

So, the Arcade Heroes blog has pointed out Namco Bandai's New Space Order, another one of those complex Japan-only arcade titles, and they note: "This game was briefly mentioned in reports that came out of AOU 2007 and it raised a few eyebrows by featuring a sit-down arcade cabinet that included a keyboard and mouse, much like CounterStrike NEO."

They continue: "Well Namco Bandai has an official site dedicated to the game, replete with screenshots, videos and even linkage to a subsite that features a series of Flash anime videos that tell an interactive story about the game."

Interestingly, a Highway Games-hosted report about AOU, actually sourced from The Stinger Report, notes: "The game was displayed as a networked Satellite Terminal (ST) space combat MMOG game - using the same cabinet layout as the Counter Strike NEO game with ten connected terminals and a central display and card dispenser, the product able to update LEDZONE facilities with a new game package. The success of the LEDZONE franchise recently reflected in NBG financials."

Hm, I couldn't find info on Ledzone's success in NBG's numbers - can anyone point to them? - but interested parties should check out the Gamasutra report on 'The Localization of Counter-Strike in Japan' which deals with the setup of the awesome-looking custom Ledzone net cafes to host Counter-Strike Neo. This was genuinely innovative work on Namco's part, I think.

[UPDATE - Ah, and I see YouTube has the New Space Order intro movie, which can only be described as 'attractively apocalyptic', as well as a shaky-cam filmed AOU trailer, which shows a bit of the gameplay near the end.]

TAFA Adds Pinball, Redemption Game Flyers

May 1, 2007 6:40 AM |

- We previously posted about this, but now the ArcadeFlyers.com folks, have passed on the good news - the new parts of their massive archive, covering other arcade equipment, are now online.

Here's the specifics with links:"The pinball flyer archive includes electromechanical, solid state, bingo, video pinball and pinball redemption. The arcade and amusement game flyer archive includes an even wider assortment of game types, including pitch n' bat, rifle, bowler, novelty, driver, wall, 16mm film and other electromechanical and novelty coin-op equipment."

Thus far: "Over the last six weeks we scanned 400 flyers each for the new archives, and this is just the beginning! In the coming months you can expect to see 50 to 100 new flyers each month so check back often!" There's already some awesome material up there, from Gottlieb's Jungle Queen pinball machine to Sega's dubiously themed 'Cut The Cheese' redemption machine. Or no redemption, depending on who you're talking to.

Arcade Flyer Archives To Go Novelty Crazy

March 30, 2007 3:52 PM |

- Got an email note from the ArcadeFlyers.com folks, who are doing a sterling job: "After seven years of cataloging coin-op video game flyers, The Arcade Flyer Archive (TAFA) is pleased to announce the imminent launch of two new flyer archives... in May 2007."

Really? Wossat? "The pinball flyer archive will include electromechanical, solid state, bingo, video pinball and pinball redemption. The arcade and amusement game flyer archive will include an even wider assortment of game types, including pitch n' bat, rifle, bowler, novelty, driver, wall, 16mm film and other electromechanical and novelty coin-op equipment. The three flyer archives will be independently catalogued."

What's more: "To support this effort, The Arcade Flyer Archive recently purchased over 10,000 coin-op flyers from Tim Ferrante, former owner and publisher of GameRoom magazine. These paper assets will provide the core collection for the new archives as well as keep the video game flyer archive growing steadily. In order to help fund the expansion of TAFA's operations, original duplicates of flyers will eventually be sold on eBay under the seller name 'Dphower'."

This is totally good news for preserving digital copies of important paper documents and ephemera like this - and ArcadeFlyers has been busy on the regular arcade stuff recently - for example an awesome Atari Game Booth flyer from 1978, and totally cute stuff like this Bonk's Adventure flyer from Western distributor Kaneko.

Bring On The 2007 Golden Tee World Champs

March 26, 2007 10:16 AM |

- The retro crazies at RetroBlast! have just put up a post pointing out that the 2007 Golden Tee World Championship began on Sunday in the Tilted Kilt pub at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas - there's an older press release on Coin-Op Today with the full details.

Actually, people consistently ignore the Golden Tee golf series, despite the fact that it's probably the most financially successful video game series in North American arcades over the last 10 years - so it's nice to see a little pointing out. Over at the Incredible Technologies forums for the game, there's some allegedly live coverage unfolding, though not much has started up yet.

Anyhow, as RetroBlast! handily explains: "To be held over the next two days, the championship will pit a 16-man international squad against a 16-man American team. The international team consists of teams from South Africa, the U.K., Australia and Canada. During the previous 4 tournaments the Americans have prevailed 3 times with the World Team winning their only World Championship Cup in 2004... The prize money totals over $57,000, so it looks to be a heated competition!" I played Golden Tee's networked arcade version on Saturday night at a bar in San Jose, actually - but didn't score too well, thanks to inadequate trackball technique. Oh well.

The History Of Capcom's Darkstalkers

March 18, 2007 5:56 AM |

- I'm still struggling to remember them with their non-RSS shenanigans, but a recent update on Hardcore Gaming 101 includes an excellent, in-depth look at Capcom's Darkstalkers series, one of my own personal favorite fighting game series (I used to own an arcade board of Vampire Savior 2, even.)

Anyhow, the intro handily explains: "Darkstalkers (Vampire in Japan) was Capcom's other original fighting game series. Its popularity never came anywhere near Street Fighter's, but its colorful characters, innovate gameplay elements, and quirky sense of humor earned it a cult following and heavily influenced other fighting games, including Guilty Gear and Capcom's own Marvel Vs. series. But for such a groundbreaking title, Darkstalkers gets surprisingly little recognition, especially in the States."

What the piece does a particularly good job of is rounding up the slightly confusing arcade and console sequels, as well as obscure appearances for the game's characters: "The Japanese only strategy RPG Namco X Capcom includes Demitri, Morrigan, Felicia, Lei Lei, Lilith, Lord Raptor, Huitzil and Q. Bee, as well as a few of their signature songs." Oh yeah - I have a request - Namco X Capcom localized downloadable release over PS3 E-Distribution, plz? And Segagaga, while you're at it?

The conclusion from ther HG101 crew? "So have we really seen the last of the Darkstalkers? My guess would be yes, unless Capcom decides to do a few more crossover games somewhere down the road. I would be a lot less disappointed about this if the series had gotten a better run -- the only fighting game more undeservedly overlooked than Darkstalkers is probably Last Blade. That's just the way it goes, I guess."

Arcade Documentaries? Lots Of 'Em!

February 13, 2007 7:45 AM |

- Jason Scott, who is himself making a documentary about oldskool arcades, has made a handy post compiling info about arcade documentaries, explaining: "I figure I'll occasionally pepper this weblog with thoughts on arcades, events or likewise, related to either my documentary or the idea in general. I expect, actually, to do this a lot. But right now, I wanted to mention the other arcade documentaries you can see shortly, instead of waiting the years for my own."

He particularl notes: "There are five that I am currently aware of. Three have broken loose from the madhouse and are running around the world's yard, while two others are locked in the basement, screaming about the bugs. (I'm not counting my own in this tally.)" Then he lists them, including the GSW-blogged-about King Of King - apparently we are 'loving'!

His last comment is particularly notable, though: "And I guess the last film, Bang the Machine, is technically finished and out... but good luck finding out where to see it! I'll leave that one as an exercise to the reader. I repeat what I said just this past Monday about films with no firm plans on how to make money from them: RELEASE IT OR GIVE IT AWAY." This is true - I've been waiting for Bang the Machine to be released in some communicable form for an age.