Saturday, 31 January 2015

Arcades on the Isle of Sheppey, North Kent


Leysdown-on-Sea is a coastal village on the east side of the Isle of Sheppey.  There was not much of note here, the few videogames they had were mostly modern.  I think the oldest game I saw was Manx TT Super Bike.  However it was nice to see Chase H.Q. 2 Deluxe and GTI Club – Supermini Festa! 


I was chatting to one of the arcade Ops and he said they had the Ridge Racer Full Scale arcade cabinet, but got rid of it last summer.  Apparently some parts were scrapped, and some were put in storage?  I think it was in in Mr B’s arcade.  He was actually pleased it was gone as it kept getting vandalized.  A real shame as I would have loved to play it, and I doubt I will ever have the chance now.


Sheerness is the biggest town on the island and is located beside the mouth of the River Medway on the north-west corner.  There was just one arcade here.  I had passed by a couple of times before and seen the two jamma cabs near the entrance, but the arcade had always been closed.  Maybe on previous occasions it was too late or out of season?  It was nice to finally pop in and find out what games were running in the cabs. 

The Street Fighter II cab had monitor issues, although it might just need some adjustment.  The control panel button arrangement was certainly interesting!  It was also cool to see Tumble Pop (Data East) in the other cab.  The arcade also had a Revolution X cabinet.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Norfolk Broads, Arcades and the games of Masaaki Kukino

Potter Heigham

Located next to a medieval bridge, this chip shop/arcade has a couple of machines.  It’s the first time I’ve seen 500 GP by Namco.  One credit lasted about ten minutes, there was no timer and the game finished when you completed a set number of laps.  They also had The House of the Dead.

The Bridge Inn – Acle

This pub has a small games room with 2p pushers and three games, Battle Gear 4, The House of the Dead III and Guitar Hero.  Although not a great selection of titles, we really enjoyed this pub.  The food is excellent and it had a nice beer garden and children’s play area, we will definitely be going back!

Wroxham Miniature Worlds
Whilst there were no arcades machines here, this venue features a Japan themed railway model display.  The model is supposedly based on the area around Osaka Prefecture.


It didn’t take me long to find the arcades.


The Lion Inn – Thurne

Now this pub really is off the beaten track, with us having to travel down meandering narrow country roads to get to it.  It’s probably a lot easier to get to by boat!  I wasn’t expecting much, but it turned out to be a pretty good find.

The games are in a barn at the side of the pub.  It was great to see Lucky & Wild, it’s been years since I’ve played this.  As I was playing I could hear heavy rain and thunder and a short while later water began dripping onto my head and the machine! 


It’s a shame Rave Racer wasn’t working, but I enjoyed a couple of pints credits on all of the other games.

The New Inn – Horning

Similar to the other pubs featured here, this pub has its own games ‘shed’.

We had a couple of credits on Silent Scope Fortune Hunter, a gambling videogame version of Silent Scope from which cash can be refunded if a player can achieve a high score.  Coincidently I’ve been reading ‘The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 1’, by Szczepaniak and there is an interview with Masaaki Kukino, the director/designer of SSFH.  It turns out the game was developed for the UK market and was his last Konami title.  Mr Kukino worked for Konami between 1986 and 2003, and his portfolio includes Haunted Castle, Crime Fighters, Asterix, Run and Gun, and Silent Scope.  In 2003 Mr Kukino joined Gamewax and directed/designed Valve Limit, Akuma, and the awesome Chase HQ 2.  In 2007 Mr Kukino joined SNK Playmore and produced King of Fighters XII and XIII, left in 2011 to work for a Chinese games developer Wahlep Tec, and in 2013 returned to SNK Playmore.

The Boulevard - Oulton Broad

This café/bar/arcade is actually located across the border in the county of Suffolk.  The arcade had a small selection of games including Gun Bullet, Sega Touring Car Championship, The House of the Dead III and Time Crisis 3.

I’m a bit confused about the Gun Bullet cab.  Gun Bullet is the Japanese version of Point Blank.  Point Blank was very popular in the UK and lots of machines made it over to these shores, but this is the only time I’ve seen Gun Bullet.  Also the cabinet itself is different.  Maybe it was converted from a Tekken or a Soul Edge cabinet?

Broad Farm Touring Caravan Park & Campsite – Fleggburgh, Burgh St Margaret

This venue had an arcade with a nice selection of machines. 


I was especially pleased to find Virtua Cop 2, it’s been a long time since I’ve played it.

The café area at the side of the arcade was being used as an arcade graveyard with a stockpile of old arcade and fruit machines.  There didn’t appear to be anything particularly rare or interesting, although the Crazy Taxi cabinet looked in nice condition.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

IGS PolyGame Master Cartridge Collection

I finally managed to track down the elusive Puzzli 2, completing my IGS PGM cartridge collection.  Of all the titles, Puzzli 2 and SVG: Spectral VS Generation took me the longest to find.

I’m a big fan of the system, the games are a nice change from the usual Capcom, Konami, Sega and SNK ranges.  In addition to the system favourites, namely Demon Front and DodonPachi II: Bee Storm there is an awesome selection of fighters, scrolling beat-em-ups and puzzle games.  Happy 6-in-1 even features an arcade cooking game!

The system was popular in the Far East, but relatively obscure in the West.  As far as I’m aware none of these titles were operated in UK arcades.

Here is a picture of my collection and a list of titles:

Square brackets - Chinese title / Round brackets - Japanese title

Left Row
1. Demon Front [魔域戰線] (デーモンフロント) (2002)
2. DoDonPachi II: Bee Storm [怒首领蜂II-蜂暴] (怒首領蜂) (2001)
3. Dragon World II [中国2] (中国龍2) (1997)
4. Dragon World 3 [中国3] (中国龍3) (1998)
5. Dragon World 3 EX [中国3EX] (中国龍3EX) (1999)
6. Dragon World 3 Special (中国龍3スペシャル) (2000)
7. Dragon World 2001 [中国2001] (中国龍2001) (2001)
8. Dragon World Pretty Chance [中国Pretty Chance] (中国龍プリティチャンス) (2001)
9. Happy 6-in-1 [歡樂六合一] (2004)
10. Knights of Valour / Sangoku Senki [三国战纪] (三国戦記) (1999)

Middle Row
11. Knights of Valour Plus / Knights of Valour In Three Kingdoms [三国战纪正宗PLUS] (三国戦紀正宗Plus) (1999)
12. Knights of Valour Super Heroes / Sangoku Senki Super Heroes [三国战纪风云再起] (三国戦記スーパーヒーローズ) (1999)
13. Knights of Valour Super Heroes Plus / Sangoku Senki Super Heroes Plus [三国战纪乱世枭雄] (三国戦記スーパーヒーローズPlus) (2004)
14. Knights of Valour 2 / Sangoku Senki 2 [三国战纪2] (三国戦記2) (2000)
15. Knights of Valour 2 Plus: Nine Dragons / Sangoku Senki 2 Plus: Nine Dragons [三国战纪2群雄争霸] (三国戦紀2・武将争覇) (2001)
16. Martial Masters / Shin Ī Ken [形意拳] (シンイーケン) (1999)
17. Oriental Legend [西游释厄传] (西遊釈厄伝) (1997)
18. Oriental Legend Special / Oriental Legend Super [西游释厄传SUPER] (西遊釈厄伝スーパー) (1998)
19. Oriental Legend Special Plus / Oriental Legend Super Plus [西游释厄传群魔乱舞] (2004)
20. Photo Y2K / Real and Fake [大家來找] (リアルアンドフェイク) (1999)

Right Row
21. Photo Y2K 2 / Real and Fake 2 [大家來找2] (リアルアンドフェイクPHOTOY2K) (2000)
22. Puzzle Star [魔幻星座] (パズルスター) (2000)
23. Puzzli 2 [渔方块2] (パヅリ2) (1999)
24. Puzzli 2 Super [渔方块2SUPER] (パヅリ2スーパー) (2001)
25. Shiny 3-in-1 [閃亮三合一] (2004)
26. SVG: Spectral VS Generation [聖魔世紀] (スペクトラルVSジェネレーション) (2005)
27. The Gladiator: The Road of Sword [神劍風雲] (闘幻狂) (2003)
28. The Killing Blade [剑狂刀] (1997/8)
29. The Killing Blade Plus [剑狂刀加强版] (2005)

Spectral Vs Generation – Revision Differences
It took a long time to track down Spectral VS Generation, and then somehow I ended up with two cartridges.  Interestingly the games were different revisions, one carts had V201 on the bottom right of the warning screen and was dated 10/11/05 and the other V202 12/26/05.  There is also a V200 on cartridge format and the PCB is V100, so there are at least four revisions.  Whilst researching the differences I discovered that Idea Factory, the developers were formed from former Data East employees, very cool!

Here is a list of changes made to SVG from revision V100 to V201:
1. No AMI logo on the title screen
2. Vocal track used every second round appears to have been removed.
3. The alt version of two of the characters are unlocked by default.

I contacted IGS (International Games System) to see if they could provide further information and was very pleased to receive a reply.  The following questions and answers were originally spread over two emails and have been edited into one.

Have a nice day. This letter comes from IGS in Taiwan. It’s our pleasure to get your mail this morning.

First of all, thanks for your deeply support toward our PGM system. We had many popular and successful PGM games in the past.

However, because of different market trend, our PGM system had phased out for years already. In further, most of PGM team members had quitted.

We will try our best to answer the questions you inquiry. Please find them as below. Thanks.

1.  Please could you confirm that there were 29 official IGS PGM1 titles released in cartridge format.

A: Frankly, I can’t confirm if it’s 29 official game titles for PGM system. PGM system divided into fighting, shooting, puzzle and etc. And it’s different packages and game titles by markets. So, that’s why I can’t confirm it. But, if you have game listed, I could help you to confirm if it was released by IGS.

2. I've recently been playing Spectral VS Generation and I see there are different revisions of this title.  Do you have any information available on what the differences are between these versions?
China M68K Version 200 09/15/05 15:06:10 V200 A: fixing bug
China M68K Version 200 10/11/05 10:07:20 V201 A: 1) modify HP toward evil master by different level. 2) adjust AI toward some characters.  
China M68K Version 200 12/26/05 16:15:36 V202 A: Fixing bug

3. Do you have any information or even pictures of PGM 1/2/3 titles which were planned but never released?  For example, prototypes which were developed and put on location test, but for some reason never officially released.  Or games in development, but never completed.  Or even games you had planned which never made it into development.  This interests me greatly, and I'd be most grateful to hear about any unreleased titles.

A: I am sorry that there are no many secrets toward PGM series.

For reaching high quality, our team spends 2 to 3 years in average to create a new PGM game.

Before developing a new project, it must be enforced with fully estimate by supervisors. So, as I know, there is no uncompleted case in development.

Here, we are thankful for your deeply support. And it’s our honor to bring excellent memory for you.

We are welcome to get your question toward our product in the future.

Happy New Year.  

Best Regards,