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

 

 

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

 

How to Win at Pac-Man

Waka, waka, waka, wanna play Pac-Man like a champion? If you are sick of getting gobbled by Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde, then check out this ‘how to play’ vid, as it will get ya playing for hours instead of minutes!

This guide basically teaches you how to play two of Pac-Man’s maze patterns (there are three officially, but two are 99% the same as each other). So what are you waiting for, go and munch some dots like a champion.


source: stevepiers

 

Man Walks into a Bar and Sees a Pac-Man Machine

By: D.C. Cutler, U.S.A.

I recently walked into a hipster bar that I had never been in before. I immediately felt slightly old. Everyone there was in their early twenties; some of them didn’t look old enough to order a beer. As I made my way past the bustling, long bar, I noticed something in the back corner of the place that I hadn’t seen in a longtime.

A large group of twentysomethings were gathered around an original Pac-Man arcade machine. I hadn’t seen a Pac-Man machine since I was a little kid. It was a smack of nostalgia in a place I didn’t expect it.

Like the Rubik’s Cube or the DeLorean DMC-12, Pac-Man is an 80s icon. Seeing a vintage machine with a group of Millennials playing it, made me curious. I sat at a small booth near the Pac-Man machine and watched the young group feed the machine quarters. They were having such a blast trying to see who could reach the highest score with one quarter.

source: ausretrogamer

After a few craft beers, I wanted to try my hand at Pac-Man; but they had taken over the machine. It was entertaining watching them shriek and groan when they got devoured by a ghost. It may’ve been the first time any of them had ever played the arcade version of Pac-Man, but I still wanted my turn.

Pac-Man brings people together. From the time the game was released in arcades in October 1980, Pac-Man has been a unifier that you could play with friends. Pac-Man is cross-generational. It seems simple at first, but as you keep playing, the difficulty of each stage keeps you addicted to clear the maze.

When Pac-Man was released in 1980, movie theatre owners and movie moguls were worried that the game would hurt the film industry. Pac-Man was taking money away from Paramount and 20th Century Fox. Pac-Man’s enormous popularity was short-lived, but at its height, movie studio executives had to be worried about how long they would be competing with the bright yellow machines.

I never got to play the Pac-Man machine in that bar that night, but I enjoyed watching the twentysomethings play a game that this October will turn 38-years-old. Will there ever be another Pac-Man? I doubt it.

source: ausretrogamer

 

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

 

E3 News: My Arcade To Launch Two Classic BANDAI NAMCO Mini Players

If Nintendo can do it with their ‘Minis’, then so can My Arcade and BANDAI NAMCO!

Day two of E3 got us excited with the announcement that My Arcade and BANDAI NAMCO have joined forces and to create two new gaming devices filled with Classic NAMCO games. The new machines further expand the line of products borne out of the partnership, which already includes a set of Micro Player Arcades featuring classic titles such as PAC-MAN™, GALAGA™, and DIG DUG™.

The NAMCO Museum Mini Player will be packed with 20 classic titles and features a large vertical-oriented screen for authentic arcade gameplay. It also features dual front facing speakers for optimal sound, a detachable joystick, and back-lit marquee and coin trap. All of the titles included on the device are the original arcade versions of the games, unless there was no original arcade version available. The Namco Museum Mini Player™ is slated to release in the Holiday 2018 season (between now and end of August).

The PAC-MAN Pocket Player is a brand new 16-bit handheld console designed by My Arcade that is compact, portable, ergonomically designed, and boasts a full colour screen. The Pocket Player™ will include three classic PAC-MAN titles, including original arcade favourite PAC-MAN, along with PAC-PANIC™ and PAC-MANIA™. The Pocket Player will be available starting July 2018 at retailers such as Walmart and Amazon.

We finally got to get excited about something at E3 2018! We can’t wait to get our hands on these units!

source: My Arcade®