Japan Amusement Expo: JAEPO 2019 Highlights

We have always wanted to attend an amusement (trade) expo, and it doesn’t get any bigger than the Japan Amusement Expo (JAEPO), which was held over the last weekend.

The heavy hitters of the industry were all there showcasing their latest games and machines (Sega, Taito, Konami, Capcom, Bandai Namco), hoping to attract distributors and operators alike. Oh yeah, Taito’s ‘Mega Rage Darius’ throwback section was a nice touch and proved quite popular!

image source: megarage_mizo

Here are some highlights and new machines that caught our eye from JAEPO 2019. Obviously Space Invaders and anything pinball related caught our eye.

Taito stand

Taito’s Densha De Go (train simulator) – Standard and Kids versions

Taito – Space Invaders Gigamax (10P Space Invaders with a display that fits on a side of a building)

Taito / Raw Thrills – Halo: Fireteam Raven

Street Fighter V Type Arcade (Capcom @ Taito’s stand)

Taito – Space Invaders Pinball Jam

Arcade1Up Japan – Space Invaders 40th Anniversary

Konami – stand

Konami – Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) 20th Anniversary Edition

Bandai Namco Technica – Pac-Man Panic Pinball

Bandai Namco Technica – Super Panic Ball (pinball)

Bandai Namco Technica – unique tool display from a Jersey Jack Pinball cabinet

exA-Arcadia – the NEOGEO MVS of our time!

Arcade Buttons galore!

image sources: Arcade Heroes, Taito Zuntata on Twitter, Taito, Arcade1Up JapanBemaniStyle, exA-Arcadia & BK2000

 

Arcade1Up – Rampage Review

Arcade1Up’s line of diminutive arcade cabinets turned a lot of heads online when they were first announced. After all, the chance to own officially-licensed arcade machines for a fraction of the price of a real cabinet, complete with authentic controls and games? It’s a no-brainer! So there was a lot of waiting to see which of these machines (if any) would reach our shores in Australia, and if so, what were they like?

So it was with great trepidation that I scoured the local ALDI stores to find one on the day of their release. I had heard that they were selling out fast, and it didn’t help that ALDI didn’t offer any convenient way to find out which stores had stock in, so I was eager to get out and about to my nearby stores.

The question I was asking myself on the trip was, which one of the two available would I choose? On the ALDI site they were advertising two versions of the Arcade1Up cabinet. One was advertised as containing Williams / Atari classics Rampage, Gauntlet, Joust and the greatest shmup of all time, Defender. The other had a placard boasting it had a roster of Capcom favourites: Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition, Final Fight, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Strider.

The good news is that a local store had plenty of both machines on hand to purchase. The not good news? The Capcom cabinet was purely for Street Fighter 2 games. To make things even more confusing, the American version of the Street Fighter 2 machine had all five variants of the legendary fighting game, but the Australian one had only three. That’s….oddly frustrating. My personal favourite Street Fighter 2 Turbo, was completely missing and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

Plenty of machines ready to play!

So, in the interests of game variation, I picked up the Williams / Atari (aka: Midway Classic Arcade) one. As much as I personally love Street Fighter 2, I knew the people who would be using the cabinet would get tired of it a lot quicker than I would, and the chance to introduce Defender to a new generation was too much to pass up. $500 later and I was driving out of the car park a happy man.

Ready to assemble!

Assembling the machine was surprisingly easy and straightforward. If you’ve ever assembled an IKEA book shelf you’ll be in familiar territory here. Frankly, I have to commend the designers here for making it such a painless process, as parts were clearly labelled and the included instructions made sense at every step. You’ll need a good Phillips-head screwdriver and about an hour or two of spare time to go from opening the box to having a small but perfectly formed arcade cabinet in your own home. It’s a good excuse to invite some friends around to help and share in the multiplayer fun afterwards.

Starting to take shape…

It’s when you start putting the machine together that you really get a sense of how small this thing is. Basically, everything is ​3⁄4 of regular size. The controllers are small, not too small, but small enough to be noticeable. The 17” monitor is small, but not enough to be a problem. The cabinet stands 1.2 metres tall, which…yeah, is an issue. Basically the cabinet is too tall to comfortably play while sitting on the ground, and too low to play at all while standing unless you’re under the age of ten. The raisers that Arcade1Up offer aren’t available at retail stores here in Australia, so you’ll need to figure out your own solution. The small size also means that it’s difficult to have more than two people comfortably crowd around the screen, especially if you’re sitting on chairs because of the height issue. It’s workable, but it’s an issue you need to keep in mind.

Almost there….

There are three microswitched sticks for three players, and two buttons (labelled Jump and Attack) that feel suitably responsive if not a teensy bit spongy. I have a hunch that the sticks won’t take the kind of pounding you can dish out in a real arcade, but I don’t really want to test it. On the controller deck is a big power switch and a switch for volume that goes between no sound, “loud enough to be clear for everyone who is playing” and “loud enough to let everyone else in the house know you’re playing”. It just feels nice to play with.

The back of the monitor houses the little box that runs the emulation software.

Anyway, enough about the hardware, let’s talk about the games! Arcade purists might scoff about how these systems use emulation, but honestly, for the price point this thing was never going to be 100% arcade accurate anyway (LCD screens can never replicate the feel of an old-fashioned CRT after all) and the emulation quality itself is legitimately good. However, the way the games play varies wildly.

No coins needed and always ready to play!

So, the cabinet is dedicated to Rampage, with all the original marquee and controller art to suit. That means that it’s a great Rampage machine and offers many hours of fun especially in multiplayer. It’s always a laugh when players end up hitting each other more than they’re hitting the buildings. So, Rampage is good.

Joust surprised me. I have always had a soft spot for the game since playing the Atari 2600 version back in the day, and for some reason I’m even more besotted with the arcade version. It looks the least interesting to play of the four games on offer but I have a hunch that it will be the one I return the most to. It’s a game that rewards skill and has a control system that will take a long time to master. So, thumbs up for Joust here.

Gauntlet is where things start to fall apart. The original was known for its four player action, but since the cabinet was designed with Rampage in mind it only has three controllers. So, at least you can play a three player session, right? Nope! For some unfathomable reason the version of Gauntlet on offer here is the two-player one. Frankly, that’s just absolutely stupid. Also, the game itself has not aged well at all and, since you can just give yourself infinite health with continued pressing of the start buttons, there’s absolutely no challenge on offer. I found myself just wandering aimlessly through the mazes not even bothering to fight any of the dungeon’s monsters. After fifteen minutes I gave this one a hard pass.

Finally we get to Defender. I love Defender. I mean I really, really love Defender. Eugene Jarvis and friends made what I think is one of the few “perfect” games. Legend tells of people who can survive more than five minutes of playing this exquisite classic, but I have yet to meet them. Yes, I am terrible at Defender but I still love it.

Defender plays like absolute garbage on this machine. I hate every second of it. The controls are so offensively broken that I feel like it wants me to grow a third or possible fourth hand to have access to all the buttons that are spread haphazardly across the entire surface of the control panel. You move up and down with the first stick, Thrust and Reverse with the player one buttons, smart bomb and hyperspace with the player two buttons, and fire with one of the third player buttons. It plays worse than it sounds. Your hands spend so much time moving across the panel there’s no way you can make the instinctive, split-second decisions needed to play Defender properly. This is one of the cases where I actually wouldn’t have minded if they used the control method found in some of the home console ports that eschewed the Thrust and Reverse buttons for left and right on the joystick. Even just thinking about playing Defender on this system makes me mad.

Uh…no thank you?

Also, and this one completely infuriates me for some reason, high scores don’t save at all! That’s a particularly egregious oversight that for me completely diminishes the arcade experience. Arcade games are all about high scores! What, I have to get a chalkboard to put next to the machine for people to write their scores down? Are we cavemen?

For $500 there were always going to be some compromises, but some of them just make my blood boil. I get the size. I get the build quality. But I really can’t get over how two of the games are basically broken and there were weird software shortcuts. If you’re a super fan of Rampage, or if you want to use this as a starting point for a modification project then absolutely you should get one. Otherwise…keep looking.

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Cameron Davis
Writer and artist of Rose: a comic about the world’s hungriest redhead and her love of food, friends, food, family, food and FOOD!

Follow Cameron on Twitter

 

 

Capcom Beat‘Em Up Bundle – Classic Side-Scrolling Brawlers


September 18 can’t come fast enough!

Why you ask? Here is why, the kings of our favourite gaming genre (beat’em ups), Capcom is releasing their Capcom Beat’Em Up Bundle comprised of absolute classic old school arcade side-scrolling co-op brawlers on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. Looks like they have covered all bases!

So what titles are included? Only seven of the best Capcom arcade beat’em ups:

✔ Final Fight (1989)
✔ Captain Commando (1991)
✔ The King of Dragons (1991)
✔ Knights of the Round (1991)
✔ Warriors of Fate (1992)
✔ Armored Warriors (1994)
✔ Battle Circuit (1997)

Can’t wait to grab this bundle on the Switch! Are you getting this too? If so, on what platform? Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to tell us, and let us know your fave from this awesome bundle.

source: Capcom

 

Arcade1Up: Classic ¾-Sized Arcade Games For Your Home

If you loved feeding coins into arcade machines from yesteryear and don’t want to spend big $$$$ on a 30+ year old machine, then Arcade1Up’s 3/4 scale classic arcade machines may be for you!

There are currently six arcade cabinets (see below), each cabinet housing multiple games. Before you get too excited, there will only be two cabinets available in Australia via EB Games (as at the time of this article) – Rampage and Street Fighter II Editions. Hopefully we’ll see the rest make their way to retails stores in Australia.

Release date (in Australia) is penned for October 11 with a retail price of $698. These aren’t exactly cheap, but they are cheaper than trying to find an original arcade cabinet which may require some TLC and parts to get it working.

With PAX Aus 2018 just around the corner, we wonder if EB Games could lend a few of these for our Classic Gaming Area…

Street Fighter II Edition with three brill Street Fighter II games

Rampage Edition: Rampage, Gauntlet, Joust & Defender 

Galaga Edition: Walmart exclusive only, housing Galaga and Galaxian!

Centipede Edition: Centipede, Crystal Castles, Missile Command & Millipede

Asteroids Edition: Asteroids, Tempest, Major Havoc & Lunar Lander

Final Fight Edition (coming in 2019): Final Fight, Ghosts’N Goblins, 1944 & Strider

Specs:

Recreate that arcade parlour from your childhood right in your living room!
image source: Arcade1Up

 

Highest-Grossing Arcade Machines of All Time

Let’s reflect and gloat for one second – it was great to be alive during the Golden Age of Arcade video games and experience arcade joints first-hand; from the clean franchised ones to the decrepit dark and scary independent ones – we loved them all.

Oh yeah, we loved the games too, from coin dropping in Galaga, Bomb Jack, Pac-Man, Tron, Double Dragon, DragonNinja to Sega’s beasts like Space Harrier, Super Hang-On, OutRun, After Burner and Thunder Blade – we spent up big and loved every single second of it.

The 1990s started with us hammering coins into Atari’s Pit-Fighter, Capcom’s Final Fight and Street Fighter II. However, it was Sega’s Daytona USA that emptied our piggy bank of coins – we just could not get enough of it.

source: The Arcade Flyer Archive

Looking at the top 10 highest grossing arcade games (below), we can tell you that we played them all during their heyday and understand why the dot munching Pac-Man is perched right up top – the game was a breath of fresh air (for its time), as it wasn’t a derivative of the then plethora of space shoot’em ups. Pac-Man was truly a revolutionary title which had universal appeal, both male and female gamers loved chasing Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde.

So what of Atari’s Pong then? Well, the 1972 game did very well for Atari, they sold somewhere between 8,500 to 19,000 units (1972 to 1973) grossing them around $11Million US dollars – not bad for 1973!

The revenues generated were quite staggering, reaffirming the Golden Age of Arcade video games period as the most prosperous of them all, with Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam flying the flag for the 1990s.

Source: Wikipedia, USGamer and Goliath

 

Documentary: Street Fighter 30th Anniversary

In the beginning, Capcom created Street Fighter (1987). Then came the all conquering Street Fighter II in 1991, and the rest, as they say, is history!

In this three-part documentary, fans and players from around the world discuss what makes Street Fighter special. Each era of the series is explored before heading into the modern era!

Kick back and enjoy – Hadouken!

Part 1: In The Beginning

Part 2: The Community

Part 3: The Next Generation

source: Street Fighter on YouTube

 

Resident Evil: Surviving The Horror

Wow, when Resident Evil was released on this day (March 22) in 1996, who would have thought that we would be talking about it all these years later!

Our first encounter with Resident Evil was quite memorable. Upon loading the game on our Playstation, we were subjected to some cheesy B-grade acting, but it was the rabid zombie dog at the end of the intro sequence that scared the pants off us when watching it at the dead of night – we still have nightmares!

We quickly learn that Raccoon City is a foreboding place, where an outbreak of the T-Virus (created as a bio-weapon by the Umbrella Corporation) starts spreading from the nearby Arklay Mountains, turning humans into zombies and other creatures into horrifying monsters. The protagonists, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, both members of the Alpha S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) special forces from the Raccoon Police Department (RPD) are trapped in the Spencer mansion, attempting to find out what all the eeriness is about. This is where things get interesting in this awesome survival horror game; from encountering supernatural enemies – some that make you jump off the couch, to finding typewriter ribbons to save your progress and the dread you feel when opening a door to transition to another room, there were scares aplenty!

Interestingly, the game is known as Biohazard in its native Japan. When the Biohazard project kicked off, Capcom were planning a spiritual remake of their 1989 horror game Sweet Home. Once they found that a DOS game had registered the Biohazard title in the US, the company held an internal contest to choose a new name. This contest lead to the title, Resident Evil, which we know and love outside of Japan. Resident Evil/Biohazard was also first to be dubbed a ‘survival horror’ game – the term coined for the new genre.

Capcom weren’t convinced that Resident Evil would do well, with sales projections pencilled in at just 200,000. Once critical acclaim was widespread, Capcom were truly gobsmacked when Resident Evil went on to move 5.8 million copies (original, Director’s Cut and Director’s Cut DualShock), making it a massive hit.

Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter to tell us about your most memorable encounter or scary moment from the original Resident Evil. Oh, and a ‘Jill Sandwich’ is a thing!

image source: games revisited