Thursday, 17 January 2019

EAG International Expo 2019

This week I went along to EAG Expo, the annual trade show for the amusement industry, held at the ExCel London Exhibition Centre.  I was keen to check out the latest video games, especially House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn, which made its European debut at the show.

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn – Sega R&D1

It’s been thirteen years since the release of The House of the Dead 4, and I’ve been excited to play this since it was announced early last year.  I had a good session on it at the show, and I’m pleased to report that it’s simply awesome. 

Cabinet Design
The theatre style cabinet, featuring a 55” 1080p full HD screen is very well themed and draws you into the game.  The white sheet aesthetic with the faces pressed against it, giving the impression of zombies trying to escape from the cab is simple yet striking.  

The rear window allows arcade goers to peek into the cab, and the zombie face which lights up intermittently is suitably macabre.

The player can select two extra weapons at the start of the game.  This is a cool new feature, adding depth to the game.  There is an extensive range of weapons, including shotgun, machine gun EX, gatling gun, laser, grenade launcher, incendiary gun and rocket launcher.  The player guns are in the style of Uzis, featuring auto-reload and have buttons for weapon change.

As night falls, two agents infiltrate an old manor
The game begins three years after The House of the Dead 4, at a dinner party at Scarecrow Manor, reminiscent of Dr. Curien’s Mansion from the first game.  AMS Agents Kate Green and Ryan Taylor, brother of James Taylor are on an undercover mission when suddenly the Party Host unleashes his army of creatures upon the dinner guests, and soon the world.  Within minutes of the game starting, the player is inundated with hordes of zombies lurching along corridors and hurtling down a staircase as they fall over themselves.  On occasion parts of the environment can be used to destroy them, such as shooting down a chandelier to kill the enemies below.   There are also hostages and civilians to rescue and “save your partner” sequences, similar to previous entries in the series.

There are a lot of familiar enemies returning from the series, including Ebitan, a sludge-covered zombie who lurches from water, Samsom, a large, bearded zombie who wields a chainsaw, and Rubin, a short nimble zombie with Freddy Krueger style claws.  A special mention must also go to the awesome Slash rocker guitar wielding zombie!

Below is some game footage.

The cabinet features a vibrating seat and an air canon, heightening immersion as players feel explosions and wind.  Early on a helicopter hovers above and air can be felt from the rotors.  It’s a very neat touch, and brings back memories of playing The House of the Dead 4 Special.

Graphics and Sound
The ‘Unreal Engine 4’ graphics are superb.  The character models and environments are extremely solid and detailed, yet still have the unmistakable The House of the Dead look and feel.  Kate Green looks incredible in her dinner dress and the fire effects are the best I’ve seen since Brave Firefighters.

The cabinet features 5.1 channel surround sound with sub-woofer, and sounds fantastic.  I must admit I was so engrossed in the game that I didn’t pay too much attention to the music.  One thing I did note is that the cheesy voice acting, a trademark of the series is back!

I’ve waited a long time to play this game and came away extremely impressed.  I can see it being popular with casual gamers as well as veterans of the series.  The game was great fun, looks and sounds fantastic, and was extremely immersive.  Being able to select two extra weapons is a fantastic new feature, and I really enjoyed trying out the new weapons.  The game strikes a good balance between being nostalgic and familiar, yet also fresh and new.  I can’t wait to play it again when it appears in the arcades.

ATV Slam – Sega

Making its debut at EAG is ATV Slam, Sega’s latest motion racer, featuring all-terrain vehicles and ten tracks.

The quad bike style cabinet was very cool, with the front end pivoting up and down depending upon the terrain.  The game is powered by ‘Unreal Engine 4’ and uses a 47” 1080p screen.  The graphics are very good and have lots of neat touches, like water droplets being sprayed onto the screen.  An air cannon on the front of the panel generates wind effects to heighten immersion.

I was impressed with the number and variety of courses, including Cribb’s Canyon, London, Docks, Area 42 and Sandstorm.  ‘Boost’ power-ups are found along the tracks.  There are also five different vehicles to choose from, complete with different abilities, and one upgrade can be selected before the race.  These are speed, acceleration, handling, boost and tricks.

Below is some game footage.

Hangar 9 - Normal

London – Hard

The game was very fast and great fun, with a greater emphasis placed on fun than realism.

Daytona Championship USA Standard Version - Sega

This new, more affordable version removes the dynamic marquee and replaces it with a yellow Hornet car.  Also the seat has changed, being a more traditional Sega seat design, and the monitor is a few inches smaller – 43” instead of 47”. 

The cabinet comes with a four speed H-type shifter.

Some more pics taken at the Sega booth.

A chart showing 6 week average income and top income earned in a week.

Halo: Fireteam Raven 2-Player – Raw Thrills / Play Mechanix

I enjoyed a few credits on this, although after playing Scarlet Dawn it did feel a little flat.  However I didn’t really play this long enough to give a fair impression, and I’m sure that someone who loves the Halo franchise will really enjoy this. 

The cabinet features two turret-mounted machine guns.  One thing we did note however is that the reload button seemed badly placed.

Here is a video of the game.

Super Bikes 3 – Raw Thrills

Super Bikes 3 is a fun racing game, which doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Imagine Cruis ‘n Blast with motorbikes, and you won’t be far off the mark!

Tomb Raider – Adrenaline Amusements / Square Enix / Crystal Dynamics
A smaller version of the 4-player shooting game featuring a 65” screen, about half the size of the deluxe release.


PONG returns as an electromechanical game! 

I enjoyed a couple of credits with my wife and six year old daughter.  The cabinet looks awesome, and I imagine it would do well in bars.

It was cool to see the Atari logo at an arcade tradeshow once again!

There were some nice new Stern pinball releases on display at the Electrocoin booth, including Deadpool, The Beatles and their latest release, The Munsters.

I really like the look of The Munsters Premium model, which has black and white art in homage to the classic TV series.  This model also has Grandpa’s laboratory, a lower playfield that features two mini flippers, two ramps, a Grandpa bash target, a digital number display and a multiball feature.

There was also an awesome line up of modern pinball tables at the Pinball Heaven booth.

Typhoon:10th Anniversary Edition – Trio Tech
My daughter really enjoys these virtual roller coasters motion simulators in arcades and holiday camps, and was excited to see this.  This 10th Anniversary Edition features a 4K upgrade, ten new films and new cabinet colouring.

Virtual reality had a larger presence this year.

Some more pics of the show.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Arcade Club - October 2018

During the October half term week we visited Arcade Club.  A special promotion was on allowing gamers of all ages access to both floors. 

My daughter had never been on Floor Two ‘Modern Arcade’ as it’s usually adults only, and I thought it would be nice for her to play the rhythm games and experience some of the quirky Japanese machines. 

She did enjoy them, but after a while she was keen to go to Floor One ‘Classic Arcade’ and play her current favourite, Pac-Land.  In fact my daughter developed a little bit of an addiction for the game, spending most of the afternoon on it!

There were lots of awesome new additions since our last visit.  Here are some of my gaming highlights.

Strider – Capcom – 1991

Awesome game, it was time I’ve seen the US dedicated cab.

The Ninja Warriors – Taito - 1987

I last played this in Mikado arcade, Japan, and was super happy to see it again. 

The game feels a little clunky, and despite the parallels with Shinobi, just isn’t as good. However for me at least there is just something special about this game.  Maybe it’s because of the awesome three-screen cabinet, and the fantastic visuals.

Maybe it has something to do with it being such an elusive title.  I played it once in the UK many years ago and in Mikado arcade, Japan years later.  I have the Mega CD conversion, but it just isn’t the same.

It could just be the super cool main characters, and the revelation which comes when they sustain damage.  When I first played this game, my thought process must have been something like this “What’s happening?  No way!  Robot ninjas!”

Cho Chabudai Gaeshi! 2 / Super Table-Flip! 2 – Taito – 2010
This is still a favourite on Floor Two and my daughter loved it.  My only gripe was that she wanted to flip the table and sometimes the wedding cake every time, even when it was my go!

Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX – Taito – 2011

Dariusburst had an all too brief spell at the now closed Casino arcade in London.  It was fantastic to see this awesome game on these shores once again. 

The Dariusburst banners are a nice touch.

X-Men – Konami – 1992

Wow what a beast!  The only time I’ve ever seen one of these awesome duel-screen, six player cabinets was at the arcade in Gatwick airport back in the early nineties.  They had a few other seldom seen games, including Sega’s Wing War and Hologram Time Traveller.  It was awesome playing this version again after all these years.  Seriously impressive stuff!

The awesome Nintendo row.

I’ve had Tron on my radar for a while, but they rarely seem to come up for sale.  It was great to have a few credits.

The pinball room.

Behind the Scenes
Here are some pics of the workshop area, kindly taken with kind permission from the guy at the desk.

A Mr. Do! board on the test bench.

Some more pics from our afternoon.