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GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

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JVL's Retro Takes Arcade Gaming To The '50s

November 29, 2006 5:08 PM |

- Groovy, baby! RetroBlast! has a handy post up pointing to the announcement of the JVL Retro countertop, which brings the arcade game community back to the future!

The RetroBlast guys note: "The design of this unit is really something else and when I say it's retro, I mean that in a late 30's early 40's sort of way. This thing would have been retro when most of us were still watching the Dukes of Hazzard on Saturday night." Wow, that really takes us back (not very far!)

Apparently: "While the styling is superbly classic, the innards are all business. The unit sports a 17" LCD monitor and multicolor perimeter lighting with 145 games available. The unit can also be used with the Touch Tunes service for your jukebox needs." And most importantly, it plays PuzzLoop/Zuma clones!

World's Oldest Competitive Gamer Passes On

October 20, 2006 11:04 AM |

robot7.jpg Twin Galaxies is reporting the rather sad news that Doris Self, the 'world's oldest competitive gamer', has passed away at the age of 81 following an auto accident.

According to the obit: "Doris first gained notoriety in 1983 when she achieved a world record score of 1,112,300 points on the classic arcade game Q*Bert during Twin Galaxies' 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament, an event that was conducted for the Guinness Book of World Records. She was 58 years old then, the oldest person up to that time to capture a video game world title"

What's more: "To Doris, Q*Bert was more than just a game; it was therapy. According to Ann Ennis, Doris' sister, Doris would play Q*Bert five nights per week from 1-3:00 AM in the morning as an alternative to taking pills for sleeping. And, on the last night of her life, it was no different. Ann Ennis heard Doris playing for hours, practicing into the night." In her final years, she was chasing the regaining of her Q*Bert world crown, but sadly didn't quite make it, aw - but sounds like she had a real blast trying. [Via RetroBlast.]

Japanese IC Arcade Cards Take Off

October 20, 2006 6:01 AM |

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.

2006 AMOA Show Afterburners Things Up

October 18, 2006 2:05 AM |

robot7.jpg It's tragic, but people kinda forget to cover arcade game show in the U.S. nowadays. But not RetroBlast!, fortunately, which has a nice write-up of the 2006 AMOA show in Las Vegas up on its site.

There's even some arcade stuff in here we haven't really seen before "Sega had one of the larger booths with some fancy games on display. I had a chance to sit inside the jeep/cockpit of the game ‘Let’s Go Jungle’ which had two machine guns mounted inside and allowed for players to storm their way through the jungle fighting off hoards of bugs and other monsters as the camera panned and swished through the forest." Oo, look, ArcadeFlyers has a flyer scan of it with lots more info.

Also noted: "Before wrapping up at the Sega booth I got a look at the new ‘After Burner’ game. The original ‘After Burner’ sit-down game was one of my favorites as a kid." Haven't seen this in the wild yet, but System16 has some pics of the game, which is called After Burner Climax (something UK Resistance has already made a joke about, we're pretty sure, or we dreamt it.)

Costco: The New Video Arcade Hangout?

October 17, 2006 4:10 PM |

robot7.jpg [This is a special GSW guest post by John Andersen, who has written some neat arcade-related features for Gamasutra, and passes along this fun tidbit. Ta!]

Have a longing to play Asteroids, Burgertime, Space Invaders or Street Fighter II CE just as you did in your local arcade back in the day? If so, the Chicago Gaming Company has a new consumer product on sale exclusively at Costco in North America, complete with authentic arcade controls (and even a trackball as well!). It's for the classic arcade game enthusiast, and right in time for the holidays. You don't even need any quarters or tokens to demo it either.

Ultimate Arcade 2 (here's a game flyer) has shipped to Costco Wholesale Club locations across the nation. It showcases 100 playable games exclusively licensed from Atari, Capcom, Exidy, G-mode (owners of the Data East library), Irem, and Taito for play on the unit. Although this toy for grown-ups has quite the grown-up price ($1995.00), it's a pretty good bargain considering this is a 300 pound quality constructed cabinet standing 70 inches tall, holding a 23" viewable monitor, with 100 playable arcade game classics, some of which haven't been available for years (Moon Patrol anyone?).

Other UA2 games worth mentioning are Cobra Command from Data East (G-mode), Kung-Fu Master from Irem, Joust from Midway, Bubble Bobble from Taito among many others. Click here to look at the unit and full list of games. Some may mistake UA2 for something that should belong in an arcade, but this machine is intended for homes and commercial use is not allowed since the coin door is permanently deactivated, so make some space in that gameroom of yours.

Ultimate Arcade 2 is a follow-up to the first Costco exclusive Ultimate Arcade product released in the 4th quarter of 2005. Ultimate Arcade 2 will soon be available for order online from Costco.com, however its predecessor is still available for home delivery on the site. A vice-president at Chicago Gaming Company promises there is more to come as new game licenses are being signed up for future arcade products. We'll certainly keep an eye and ear out, meanwhile we'll be heading down to our local Costco for a little Elevator Action and some bulk-buy pizza rolls.

The Act Moves Out To Arcades

October 9, 2006 12:18 PM |

theact.jpg We've previously covered the distinctly quirky arcade machine 'The Act' from Cecropia, and Armchair Arcade has now spotted its public release, and I'd love to hear from any GSW readers who can go check it out in its Boston test locations.

It's explained: "A company called Cecropia has finally come out of stealth/start-up mode and been getting a lot of press lately about their first "experimental" game, "The Act", identified as an interactive comedic film experience. What seems to make this a bit different from the usual indie developer spin on things is that the company was started in conjunction with a bunch of former Disney animators, giving the experience legitimate visual impact, while the gameplay is designed around a simple knob to manipulate the emotions, personality and actions of the player's avatar."

But wait, for Boston-ites, here where you can check it: "The Act is installed at locations including: --Our House West at 1277 Commonwealth Avenue, Allston --TC's Lounge at One Haviland Street, Boston --Boston Bowl at 820 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston --T's Pub at 973 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston --Lanes & Games at 195 Concord Turnpike, Cambridge." Surely we have some Harvard professors who want to go play?

GameSetPics: Tokyo Arcade Action, Pt.2

September 20, 2006 2:14 PM |

I'm guessing you guys may be pretty bored of random Japanese arcade pics by now, but - good news - it's the last of the snaps I took this week. This final set deals with the Half-Life 2 arcade machine (yay!), other oddness, and walking the dog, arcade machine stylee (which isn't weird at all, right?) So, let's go:

Valve and Taito's Half-Life 2: Survivor is pretty weird to see in Tokyo arcades, and the gameplay itself is much different and simplified - but it's still darn cool.

One of the many card-based arcade games super-popular in Tokyo right now (they have them for baseball, tactical battling, fantasy, etc) - you need to buy cards and place them on the arcade machine to select your in-game characters.

After God knows how many iterations, Konami's Beatmania is still going strong, alongside the other Bemani titles.

Networked arcade games are increasingly popular in Japanese arcades, and this multiplayer quiz title was getting a lot of play.

Yours truly modeling a slightly older, but still highly amusing Sega arcade game in which you, yes, go walk a dog, avoiding cyclists and pacing on a treadmill. Score.

GameSetPics: Tokyo Arcade Action, Pt.1!

September 19, 2006 8:15 AM |

Hm, I was hoping to do a Gamasutra post about 'The State Of Japanese Arcades' today, but it's late, and honestly, I don't have a great deal of amazing insight, other than 'the Japanese love their arcade games, music, fighting, and networked CCG games are big, and there are some damn cool arcades out there', heh.

So how about I just split it out and show you some more pictures I've been taking of the myriad of arcades here in Tokyo this week? Some of this stuff is pretty standard, but hopefully you won't mind:

Sure, it's pretty standard and has even turned up in U.S. arcades, but who doesn't like seeing Namco/Nintendo's Mario Kart GP in arcades? Home conversion plz!

One of the craziest marquees of all time, I think for a sequel to the Bishi Bashi Special series, judging by the controller setup?

Well, Virtua Fighter 5 is certainly good-looking, but the interesting hook isn't just the single-player arcade machine.

Yep, this is the really interesting part - VF.TV, which was showing a network-transmitted Virtua Fighter 5 match from other sparring arcade participants elsewhere in Japan.

Dude - let's drum. Taiko No Tatsujin times infinity! Or about four, at least.

GameSetPics: Sega Joypolis, Pt.1

September 16, 2006 9:04 AM |

So, we started off our Tokyo sojourn in vaguely fun style with a visit to Sega's Joypolis amusement park, located in the rejuvenated harborside district of Odaiba, which also has an insane mess of kitsch and cute shops, restaurants, and miscellaneous arcades.

Joypolis itself has a bunch of arcade games in it, but mainly consists of small-scale motion rides and other semi-theme-park-ish pursuits - including 'enhanced' versions of The Lost World and House Of The Dead 4 arcade machines with extra motion effects. Anyhow, we wandered around, and here's the first part of two photo galleries looking through the park.

The entrance to Joypolis itself - it's split over three levels opposite a major shopping center in Odaiba.

The scariest Sonic mastermind picture ever. He was kinda stalking us.

Sega's Mushiking beetle CCG trading arcade game is still pretty massive in Japan, especially with smaller kids.

Sonic helps you eat sweet, sweet chocolate cake.

Yay for mangled prose - 'Speed is his glory - it's what he dose best'.

More evidence of spooky interaction between Michael Jackson and Sega - he's been scrawling on their walls!.

GameSetInterview: Twin Galaxies' Walter Day

August 30, 2006 12:14 AM |

walter_day3.jpg Walter Day has been running Twin Galaxies since mid-1981. On the 9th of February the next year, Day launched the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard – a collection of gaming records gathered by Day from over 100 arcades over a period of 4 months. Twin Galaxies quickly became acknowledged as the world authority on game scores. The next year, on January 9th, in conjunction with ABC-TV, Twin Galaxies held the world’s first videogame championship in Day’s arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa. Following this, he put together, and captained, the US National Video Game Team, who challenged Italy and Japan, and toured Europe.

Day was also contacted by the Guinness Book of World Records to work as assistant-editor of the videogame scores section of the 1984-1986 editions. By 1985, Day and Twin Galaxies had been featured in LIFE magazine, Marvel Comics, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Stern Magazine, the Washington Post and had nearly 100 TV appearances.

In 1998, Twin Galaxies released the first edition of the Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records - a 984 page compilation of 12,416 records dating back to 1981. For their 25th year, they plan to release the second edition, a three-volume set, which will feature console and PC gaming. Twin Galaxies also continues to contribute to the Guinness Book of World Records, with 68 records in the book’s new videogame section.

GameSetWatch spoke to Walter Day via email about the history of Twin Galaxies, and what it represents now.

How did you become interested in videogames?

I was an oil broker in 1980 and I began work on a book called Day’s Who’s Who in the Petroleum Industry. After some weeks working on biographies, my partner said: “I can't work anymore on this stuff, I have to go play Space Invaders.”
So, of course, I had no idea what Space Invaders was so he took me along to a major arcade in Houston, TX, where I became addicted to Space Invaders. Then, I became addicted to Pac-Man and then Centipede. Today, I don’t play because Twin Galaxies takes up all my time.

What are your favourite games?

The three mentioned above plus Galaxian, Make Trax, Crazy Taxi and Tutankham.

Have you ever been tempted to try for a record of your own?

I once held the world record on Make Trax, back in 1982.

Your site says of the scoreboards beginnings that "Day's real passion was to visit as many video game arcades as possible and record the high scores he found on each game" - what started your passion for recording game scores?

I was fascinated with the pursuit of excellence, as manifested in the video game player. I wanted to excel. So, to do this, I sought out the best of the best players to learn their tricks. This was the birth of the scoreboard.

What was it like to be recognised as the worldwide "official" record keepers of scores back in the early days, and how does it feel for that to have continued?

It was overwhelming in the beginning because I would be interviewed everyday from some city around the world. Everybody was going for records back then. It was a very big deal. Now, it’s more quiet and easier to handle. But still very popular.

Are there any records that stand out as particularly impressive for you?

Nobody will ever beat the records on the classic Pole Position [67,310 posted by Les Lagier on the 11th of June, 2004] or Crystal Castles [910,722 posted by Frank Seay on the same date]; they may actually be maxed out.

How were the early days of Twin Galaxies different to now?

I can breathe now, not as much pressure.

Do you feel like you played a part in bringing gaming into the professional arena?

The entire Twin Galaxies family of players and referees are responsible for planting a seed that is now coming to fruition everywhere. Many leagues, many contests, many champions – they all had their spiritual roots in what Twin Galaxies started 25 years ago.

How do you feel about gaming these days, as opposed to when you began?

It’s getting exciting. There wasn’t money available back then. The modern prize structure is making the activity become a legitimate sport.

How do you feel about emulator, or tool assisted, speedruns?

Emulators are fine. They are not mixed with original game systems, however: treated as separate. Speed-runs have breathed life back into games that had faded from the public eye.

Where do you see professional gaming going in the next five years?

Many, many leagues. Many, many contests. And a return to high-score based games in a big way.

Finally, what can we expect from the new edition of Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records?

The book is so big that it is splitting into 3 companion volumes, each being 740-pages in length. The volumes are:

1. Arcade
2. Console
3. PC-Gaming