EAG International 2014 was organized at the same time as BETT Show 2014, an exhibition devoted to educational technology with exhibitors like Samsung, Intel, Dell, Bright Process, Cambridge University Press, etc...
The export version of Mario Kart Arcade GP DX was extremely simplified compared to the Japanese version, there is therefore no Banapassport (as we suspected). Consequently, the player can't choose his kart nor his weapons which are assigned randomly via a slot machine system. The problem is that the player can't even select his class (kart's power: 50cc, 100cc, 150cc). It's a shame because the game is really more intense when played in 150cc. In it's current form, it's sometimes slow paced. The class can perhaps be set by the operator through test mode or the feature may be added in a future update. Time will tell as the game is not available yet.
Despite the absence of the Banapassport feature, the cabinets must still be connected to the Internet. This allows Bandai Namco Games to collect data about the game (most popular characters and circuits) for its improvement. Updates and additional content will be regularly sent via the network to expand the game. This is a very good idea but the fact that the machine must remain constantly connected prevents showmen to operate this game on funfairs. Yet, travelling arcades represent an important part of the European market.
But what about the game? The 42" screen adds to the immersion and the voice commenting the races makes them more dynamic. It's a real pleasure to meet Mario's frend, Pac-Man and their new friend: Don-chan from the popular Taiko no Tatsujin arcade drum game. Courses inspired by this game are beautiful. Others are very nice looking too. The System ES3 powering the game is certainly not fully exploited but the universe is very colorful and it is now possible to fly and drive underwater. Another new feature is the ability to play cooperatively. In this mode, a bonus allows the two players who choose this option to combine their karts. One player then becomes the shooter and is perched on a turret he controls at 360°. This is a very fun feature.
Of course, "Mario" coins are still scattered across the circuits but catching them is completely useless since there's no savegame card. 4 machines can be connected for heated races. As previous versions, the cabinets are still equipped with a Nam Cam allowing players to show their head in the game. Faces are displayed in ridiculous frames chosen by the players and can now be deformed in all directions. In short, it's Mario Kart, so it' s colorful, very fun, and it will appeal to a wide audience. The only regret is the inability for the player to choose his kart and class and the mandatory online connection. We recommend it anyway to operators of fixed locations, especially since extra content will be added continuously so the game will never become obsolete. [Video]
Another big release: Mach Storm. Using the same POD cabinet as Mobile Suit Gundam - Senjo no Kizuna, this dogfight game is mind blowing thanks to its semi-spherical 180° screen, air blowers and vibrating controls and seat. It's been a long time since an arcade game has been so impressive! Controls are those of a jet fighter (speed throttle and joystick with 2 buttons: machine gun and homing missiles). There are 5 stages: Washington, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo and Miami. The game itself is very simplistic because the path and all events are scripted. Because of this, multiplayer is not possible. Don't worry though, this game offers a unique experience and will make a beautiful centrepiece in any arcade. Scheduled for a March release.
Deadstorm Pirates Special Edition includes two new stages: the fort and the tower. The final stage can be selected at the beginning of the game and there's a new ending sequence. The version presented at the show was finished at 70% but it was already sufficient to appreciate the quality of the new stages. An upgrade kit will be available for owners of the original Deadstorm Pirates. This kit will include a new plastic marquee for the rear of the cabinet, new decals for the sides and of course, a hard disk containing the new software. Like other Japanese titles showcased at the show, the developers of the game made the trip to England. Also on the stand was Deadstorm Pirates 4D+, the "attraction" of the game in 3D and supporting 4 players with moving seats. Still impressive, this version is a must have for amusement parks.
Dead Heat Riders is presented in its final version with 5 bikes to choose from and 4 courses set in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and London. It uses the Nam Cam as many other recent Namco games. As its name suggests, Dead Heat Riders a spin-off of Dead Heat where cars are replaced by motorcycles and the music is changed to new tracks with vocals. The 42" monitor provides a good immersion and 4 machines can be connected for multiplayer. A great motorbike racing game which would advantageously replace an ageing Manx TT.
42" version of Dead Heat is once again showcased. Keep in mind that unlike the 32" model, this version does not have the keypad for the player to saves his game. To compensate, all vehicle improvements are unlocked from the beginning and the player starts with 3 bottles of nitro.
The very good Dark Escape 4D is staged in a small cemetery strewn with pieces of dead bodies and smoke coming out of the cabinet. This horror shooter is truly exceptional with a good 3D effect (through glasses), air blowers, a good surround sound system, vibrations in the seat and pulse sensors in the controllers. [Video]
Snow Down by Jennison Entertainment Technologies is a redemption game where you have to catch as much snow as possible using a tube. We won't talk about the graphics of another age as the action happens in the central cage where swirls of artificial snow are illuminated by 3000 multicoloured LEDs. It's an impressive machine that draws the eye. It's one of the few redemption machines where two players can compete.
Animal Kaiser is once again at the rendez-vous and is the only card game shown at the show this year. There are tons of animals to collect for children. And we know they love it! This is Version 2 featuring new animals, cards with miraculous effects, animals with poisonous attacks and Aura cards to recover health.
Developed by Raw Thrills under license from Namco, Super Alpine Racer is presented in a prototype version. The final cabinet won't have a LED marquee. An arcade classic revived to these days standards with a 55" vertical screen and a refreshing fan. Up to 8 cabinets can be connected for multiplayer.
The gameplay is simple, the player must pass through gates and reach the finish line in the shortest time possible. Successfully passing through gates and performing tricks in the air give a speed boost. The pad used to control the character takes account of the player's lateral tilting allowing shorter turning.
The prototype includes only 2 stages (Everest and Matterhorn) and 3 characters (a punk, a professional skier and a short-dressed girl). The final version will be expanded with at least one new stage and one new character. Hopefully the graphics will be reworked before the release of the game because it's not bright. [Video]
Another result of the collaboration between the two arcade giants is Pac-Man Ticket Mania! Playing the classic Pac-Man game, the player wins tickets. Getting caught by the ghosts once signifies the end of the game. But, if you manage to eat all the pac-gum on the screen, you go to the second step where you have to reach the center of the screen while avoiding the ghosts to obtain the PAC-POT (eg jackpot of 1,000 tickets).
Pac-Man Chomp Mania is exactly the same game but giving out a gift card instead of tickets. The machine is equipped with a 1080p 42" HD display and a LED marquee displaying classic Pac-Man animations. The bezel surrounding the screen have continuously changing colours. A good update of a classic game that will appeal to all generations.
Now let's talk about the 100% Raw Thrills games with Batman. Developed by Specular Interactive (H2Overdrive, Dirty Drivin'), Batman is not a classic racing game. Well, it's not a racing game at all. The goal is to navigate through Gotham City driving one of the 10 Batmobiles from the movies and TV series and successfully fulfil mission objectives. The objectives are for example to destroy satellite dishes, find documents, restart generators, ... The game is divided into 6 stages (3 easy ones and 3 difficult) consisting of 6 tasks each. Each scenario ends with a battle against a boss (The Joker, Bane or Freeze). In some missions, you are piloting the "Bat" (Batman's aircraft) and of course there are various power-ups to pick up such as the Batarang or missiles.
It looks complicated when said like that but in fact the Batman game comes down to simply drive and shoot (thanks to the buttons equipping the bat steering wheel), it's very fun although there is little challenge. Different Batmobiles are very easy to drive and the dark and quirky world of Gotham City is very well reproduced. Like the other driving games of the manufacturer, the cabinet has a keypad so that players can save their score and progression. In multiplayer, the 2 players cooperate and the player with the highest score is declared "hero." while the loser becomes his "sidekick". It's nothing special and for once, the game is just as fun when played solo. [Video]
Another big release: Aliens Armageddon. Terminator Salvation successor in many ways, it is more beautiful, faster and more immersive. Unlike the Aliens films, the action takes place on Earth which has been invaded by xenomorphs. The game features four chapters after which the player will leave Earth with the last survivors on board a cargo ship leaving the planet in the hands of those terrible creatures. Unlike Terminator Salvation, threatening enemies are not underlined by red halos, so you must quickly identify priority targets. The game gives no rest to the player and exterminating those filthy beasts in bunches of green blood is a real pleasure. Especially since the bestiary is quite varied; cocoons, facehuggers, snakes and other creepy and flying creatures.
The 55" HD screen contributes greatly to the immersion and the player is truly absorbed into in this post-apocalyptic world. Regarding the difficulty, rapid movements of the enemies make them difficult to target. Consequently, the default minimum game time (time during which the player's life decreases slower) has been revised upwards from the previous Play Mechanix game. The rifle is identical to that of Terminator Salvation, with kickback effect and a side button for grenades. Aliens Armageddon is an excellent shooter highly recommended if you don't already own Terminator Salvation. [Video]
Barrel of Monkeys is an arcade adaptation of the famous Hasbro game. It's a redemption where a monkey is swinging on a vine. It reaches out to another monkey perched on a barrel. The goal is to press the button when the hands of the two monkeys cross so the bottom monkey clings to the other. And so on to create a chain of 10 monkeys.
The gained number of tickets vary depending on the colour of the primate. The last one which is golden coloured gives access to the secret room for the bonus show. There are 3 different stages: beach, jungle and waterfall. The friendly animals come to life through a 42" screen and pretty monkey chants. This arcade release introduces the new purple monkey called "Cheeky Monkey".
Big Buck HD is back with an extra game mode: Duck Dynasty. Based on the popular American reality TV show, this mode adds beautiful duck hunting stages. Big Buck HD is the best hunting game of the moment.
Super Bikes 2, the Fast & Furious motorcycle racing game, is still available with a 42" screen and keypad allowing players to save their profile.
Pac-Man is once again in the spotlight this year with Pac-Man's Arcade Party already showcased the previous years. This collection of 12 retro games running on System 147 should appeal to a nostalgic audience although we are not convinced by the visual aspect of some games like Rolling Thunder on a vertical LCD display (the original cabinet sporting an horizontal CRT).
Pac-Man Ghostly Bowling (formerly Pac-Man Ghost Bowling) changes the rules of bowling by replacing the pins by holes. The idea is to roll the ball up the ramp below the panel. The ball comes up from behind the panel and falls into one of the holes. This principle prevents flying balls. At the back of the picture, you can see Pac-Man Smash, the 4-player air hockey where dozens of pallets are dropped on the table simultaneously. A unique air hockey!
Pac-Man Basket is once again at the rendezvous with its sideways moving basket for added difficulty. Speaking of difficulty, it increases with levels. The yellow balls are stamped with the Pac-Man character.
New: the Jelly Bean Gourmet kit for Drop The Hook from The Jelly Bean Factory completely redecorates the machine and offers players the chance to win boxes and bags filled with 100% natural taste jelly beans. Made in Ireland, these jelly beans do not contain gluten, gelatin, GMO nor hazelnuts.
Bandai Namco Games distributes photobooths including the new Scene Machine by Apple Industries. The user is photographed in front of a green screen. He can then choose via a touch screen the background of the photo (terrifying scenes, underwater view, famous places, ...).
At Sega Amusement, we are greeted by Bumblebee. The main event is of course the release of the Transformers Human Alliance shooting game. The game is available as a deluxe cabinet with a 42" screen and as a theater cabin equipped with a 55" LED screen. In both 2 cases, guns are attached to the cabinet as in Let's Go Jungle! and Let Go Island. Like in those two games, there are sequences where players must perform certain actions in time (hold the controller in a certain position or press the start button at the right moment).
In this game, players partner with Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Sideswipe to hunt down the Decepticons across 5 cities in America, Africa and Europe before they find the AllSpark (a material that breathes life into mechanical and electronic objects). As in many recent games, teamwork is rewarded: when both players combine their shots, the autobot accompanying also attacks the target, causing more damage. Some enemies are outlined in blue. This indicates that they have Energon cubes. Collecting Energon cubes allows your autobot to appear on the screen to help you.
Powered by the RingEdge 2, this game is boasting beautiful graphics. The scenery is very detailed and the robots are well modeled without any apparent aliasing effect. Transformers are also very well animated and their transformations are faithfully reproduced. The only negative point is that despite its sustained action, the game lacks tension. We do not really feel the threat of the Decepticons and Transformers Human Alliance's gameplay is less nervous than Aliens Armageddon. Nevertheless, it's a good shooting game. [Video]
Presented in beta versions at EAG 2013, Pirates of Monster Island and Snakes & Ladders are this time available in their final format.
Being an arcade adaptation of the famous PC game by PopCap, the arcade version turns it into a kind of First Person Shooter since the player must destroy waves of zombies using a Peashooter. There are 10 levels sets in different settings (mountain, garden, etc...).
Internally illuminated by LEDs, the Peashooter changes color when fired. Destroying the balloons floating across the sky releases special projectiles (tennis balls, flaming balls, spiked balls, ...). [Video]
The only racing games on the stand of Sega were two productions by Chinese manufacturer Wahlap. The first is Storm Racer G. A car racing game with 12 courses (including 6 to unlock) and 14 cars (7 to unlock). The cabinet features a 42" screen, a camera to display the player's face in the game and a lever activating the boost. There is no speed shifter, the game plays on automatic only. An "Automatic drift" option is available for beginners.
Up to 8 players are supported. It is possible to join a game in progress during the first 30 seconds of the game. In this case, the race restarts with all participants. It is clear that the quality of Chinese game improves. This is a very fun title providing a good sense of speed while being easy to handle. The only concern being the poor build quality of the boost control lever. [Video]
The second game of Wahlap is Storm Rider, a motorcycle racing game. Largely inspired by Super Bikes 2, the cabinet is equipped with a 42" screen. The game features 11 courses including 6 hidden ones and 10 bikes including 5 to unlock. The tracks are set in 3 environments: port, forest and an abandoned airport.
There's an unlimited boost system for big speed-ups where the screen becomes blurred. The player will have fun exploring the many shortcuts littering the course. A good quality motorbike racing game which you can play up to 4 players. [Video]
Sega distributes the KC Cobra video kiddie ride by Sting International. This is a luxury kiddie ride since the child plays a real 3D racing game. He has to catch coins scattered on the course to get tickets from the machine. Or how to combine the pleasant and the useful
Another game for kids: Hello Kitty Air Hockey. Created by Sega under license from Sanrio, this beautiful Hello Kitty themed pink air hockey table is children sized with its height of 68,6cm. The LED displays embedded into the table show the score and remaining time. The surface is resistant to scratches and the table can be equipped with an optional ticket dispenser.
For the second year in a row, the popular Double Spin redemption is present with its simple and effective concept.
Still popular: Sonic Basketball and the Sonic Quad Air 4-player air hockey table of the Sonic Allstars series.
Who has never played Monopoly? The famous board game is once again adapted for the arcades. Developed by Play Mechanix for ICE and distributed by Sega, this video redemption has the particular feature of allowing the player to continue up to two times his game so he can keep his hotels across games and accumulate gains. The dice are rolled by turning a small wheel. The 42" screen displays nice 3D graphics. The appearance of the cabinet was especially taken care of with a car shaped seat lit by LEDs.
After Milk Jug Toss (on the right), ICE continues to to bring up to the day the classic funfair attractions with Down Da Clown. You'll probably recognize this game where you have to throw balls at clowns to make them fall. A simple and well-known concept used by a machine for 2 players with LED lighting and dispensing of tickets.
To go with the arcade release, Sega Prize Europe adds Plants vs. Zombies plush toys to its range.
Sega now sells the deluxe version of Key Master, a 2-player machine with added prize storage capacity.
The timeless Typhoon from Triotech is at the appointment again with 4 new movies available as an upgrade.
And here's a new version of ICE Ball: ICE Ball FX! This new version includes no less than 50 improvements including a synchronized LED light show for a pretty sight.
Candy Factory is a mini crane built by ICE with a "winner every time" option.
A deluxe marquee featuring a shark head and two LCD screens is now available to improve your Harpoon Lagoon. More ICE are shown on the stand such as Treasure Quest, a video game version of Cut The Rope and Doodle Jump Arcade as well as a 1-player model of Sideshow by Pan Amusements.
Whack N Win! is a variation on one of the most well-known carnival game. The player must hit the button with the hammer but he has to apply the right force to reach the area worthing the most points and win loads of tickets. A kit to extend the height of tower is available.
As a consequence, the HD touchscreen is downsized from 42" to 26" but a second monitor of 32" is added on the top of the machine for spectators to watch the game.
The game features more than 100 songs including 20 exclusive titles to ReRave Plus. The game being American, the proposed selection is more Western oriented than music games from Asian manufacturers.
With a 1000 Watt sound system, the machine will not go unnoticed! A ticket dispenser is available as an option which should convince most recalcitrant operators.
Fruit Ninja FX 2 uses the popular Touch FX touchscreen cabinet. This second opus offers new blades, more fruits, new visuals and the grenade bonus (the fruit, not the explosive). Although the result is the same on screen.
The player can add his character in the game using one of the figures sold separately. Fruit Ninja FX 2 is available both as a full machine and as an upgrade kit for any Touch FX cabinet. A redemption option is available.
Beside novelties, UDC sells older cabinets in very good condition such as this Crazy Taxi High Roller and this 18-Wheeler.
Developed by ZeroPlus Technology, this game appears under two different titles: Shooting Sports at UDC and Olympic Shooter at Harry Levy. This is a shooting sports simulation, a rarely seen genre. Whatever its name, the game is very fun.
The game consists of 5 levels from qualification to the finals. The player has 5 bullets to hit 5 targets in the allotted time. Speed and accuracy are required. 8 cabinets can be linked-up for tournaments.
Another game seen at Harry Levy is Rail Rush by Coastal Amusements. Being another adaptation from a mobile phone game to the arcades, the goal of our Indiana Jones-like adventurer is to catch gold nuggets while riding a mine wagon going at full speed.
Younger kids also have their arcade games. More advanced than the classic kiddie rides, Golden Horse and Mini Moto 1 from GameArt Online offer real video games to children.
The new Xtreme cabinet is used for several games such as Fruit Mania Xtreme which we already talked about earlier, but also Ring Em where the players must lanch rings around monsters of different values.
There's also Toss Up where a ball must fall in holes worthing more or less points (meaning tickets).
Veggie Blast gives you the opportunity to fire bombs at vegetables using a corn shaped canon (with recoil effect!).
Golden Tee Live 2014 adds the birdeye view. It allows you to see the course from above before hitting the ball. More than 75 new accessories are available to dress your golfer. They are unlocked by completing courses or special events.
Star Trek is the first Pro version of a Stern to feature LED lighting of the playfield (a privilege usually reserved for premium versions). The main task of the player is to destroy the USS Vengeance. A ticket dispenser is optionally available.
Beside the standard model, ones find the ruby red coloured "75th anniversary" edition. This edition includes sculpted elements such as carved walls of the castle of the witch, the tornado and a figure of Toto in his basket.
And let's not forget the timeless DanceDanceRevolution, sold here in its Dancing Stage EuroMIX 2 version.
Adapted from a smartphone game by iDreams, The cabinet features a vertically mounted 42" multitouch touch screen.
ELSACO, an industrial electronic company based in Czech Republic, develops simulators under the "motion-sim.cz" brand. They are here today to present the 4DOF Extreme 4x4 panoramic simulator which is equipped with 4 27" HD monitors. The emphasis is set on the realism of the sensations.
Founded in 1989, Zone Leisure Technology has become the largest manufacturer of laser tag gears in the world. They offer solutions for all genres of installations: from vest free systems to laser mazes and inflatable laser arenas...
For all your spare parts needs, Suzo-Happ Group and...
E-Services are obviously still up to their reputation.
Pac-Man power girls are not a USA exclusive.
Mission complete for this Mach Storm pilot.
Once more, Namco was the stand to see with several very good new titles like Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, Mach Storm and DeadStorm Pirates Special Edition. However, we regret that the European version of Mario Kart is too simplified compared to the Japanese version (no choice of engine or karting possible for the player).
At Sega the trend observed in 2013 is confirmed: the focus is on the redemption games at the expense of video games. The only game developed by Sega was Transformers Human Alliance. A very well done game but lacking some punch, in large part because of the fixed gun system. The game would have been better has it been equipped with real guns. The two other video games presented were the Storm Racer G and the motorbike racing game Storm Rider made by Wahlap. They are good games but don't have the quality of racing games released by Sega in their heydays. Plants vs. Zombies - The Last Stand was Sega's new redemption. Nothing special to say about it, except that the license is used well.
On small developers' side, ReRave Plus from Step Evolution is a very nice improvement over the original game with a much more aesthetic cabinet. ReRave Plus remains one of the best music games released in recent years. Special mention also to Shooting Sports (or Olympic Shooter), a target shooting game differing from the usual shooters.
Arcade games adapted for smartphones still abound this year with titles like Fruit Ninja FX 2, Jetpack Joyride Arcade, Monster Factory, Skylanders Cloud Patrol and Rail Rush. And it seems that this trend won't fade anytime soon.
Regarding video games, the offer was bigger than last year. Hopefully these products will meet the success they deserve. To find out if this revival will continue next year, go to ExCeL London on January 13-15 for EAG International 2015.
Text / pictures: Sophie & Nomax.
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