January is coming, so does the ATEI (that will take place from january 24th to 26th in London). Sega is already preparing for the show. The blue hedgehog company's on the way to grab people's attentions with its brand new Lindbergh system that will run Sega's next hits. The first two titles seeing the light of the day on this platform will be showcased at the show: these are The House of the Dead 4 and Virtua Tennis 3. We already told you about The House of the Dead 4 but we know more about it now. As said before, the deluxe cabinet will use a high definition 16/9 62" digital projection screen, these new screens' big advantage is that they don't burn anymore. No more old pictures' marks as too often seen on current 50" projection screens. The story is taking place 3 years since HotD 2's events. You plays James Taylor again or his new partner Kate Green and have to rid the city of Goldman's hordes of undeads who invaded it. Wait a minute, didn't Goldman commited suicide? This promises a good plot like the one of the previous episode! Your weapon changes once again since it's a UZI you'll use this time. You won't have to fire outside the screen to reload, you'll just have to tilt it down then up. Attention, zombies can grab you now and you'll have to shake your UZI horizontally to make them release you. This sounds great! Let's talk about sport now with Virtua Tennis 3. Virtua Tennis 2 is often regarded as the best tennis game of all time so we welcome this new opus with open arms. It features 12 of the best international players like Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt. No women this time (too bad, we would have liked to play with Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin for sure) but still the same gameplay. Virtua Tennis 3 will feature the memory card system already used for Ghost Squad, this will lenghten the life of a game that will already be a success! Useless to say that these titles are splendid graphically speaking and that they exceed all that was made until now. To keep on with sport, football's fans aren't forgotten since 2 titles will be shown: WCCF European Clubs 2004 - 2005 about which we told you again one month ago and an update to Virtua Striker 4 named "Virtua Striker 4 - 2006 World Cup edition". Children won't be fogotten either with collectable card games "Dinosaurking" and "Love & Berry" which takes the same concept but adapted to girls' tastes. But there's more, Sega will unveil as a world first a project developed in Europe that's top secret at this time! What ever can it be? However, the competition will have much to do to counter all of this!
Sega put in operation for some weeks a World Club Champion Football European Clubs 2004-2005 machine at Brighton Marina's Bowlplex (south-east of England). It's a kind of preview since this game's european release is planned for next month. Numerous distributors and operators came from whole Europe to see players' reaction: success is there and the game shown a high impact as soon as the first weekend of operation! Tim Williams, general manager at Bowlplex said he was surprised by the game's success, not only because players spend more money than usual but especially because WCCF attracts customers who are normally not seen in the complex's video games area. For those who don't know it, WCCF is a football management game (running on Naomi 2) allowing 8 players simultaneous play. Each player uses a dedicated board where he places his player cards (made by Panini and available as a starter kit). He can moves these cards during the match, thus directly affecting the players' position on screen. When game ends, the player receives a new card. Talking about this, a player named Liz Morant got a neat surprise; on friday october 7th, while he was loosing at a tournament, he unwrapped the card received on game's end and discovered Andriy Shevchenko. A.C. Milan's champion is one of the only two ultra rare gold cards! The other one is Ronaldinho. These are so scarces that's the first time one of them surfaces since june (when this version was released in Japan). The 256 cards collection is composed as follow: 124 regular cards, 100 specials, 30 rares and 2 ultra rares. Hopefully many belgian bowlings will add this great game to their video games section!
Three days after the takeover of Taito by Square Enix (by purchasing 93,7% of total shares), it\'s Bandai\'s turn to merge with Namco to form Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. Namco\'s President, Kyushiro Takagi becomes \"Chairman and Director\" of the new entity while Takeo Takasu who was Bandai\'s headman takes the post of \"President and Representative Director\" of the group. This would probably put a term to the collaboration between Banpresto (Bandai) and Capcom regarding development of licensed video games like the Gundam series. As Bandai is a toys distribution specialist, we should see the appearance of many derived products from Namco games characters. In the same way, video games based on Bandai produced animes (.Hack, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, ...) will surely be henceforth developed by Namco which some will perhaps see an arcade release.
Namco is not the only company preparing some surprises for Preview 2006. Let's see what main competitor's cooking: aside its vending machines and other pushers (including Disco Dream that should be the "most beautiful pusher in Europe" with its glitterball and its 12 mini-TV screens), Sega will unveil 3 new video games; World Club Championship Football European Clubs 2004-2005, The House of the Dead 4 et Dinosaur King. The first one is a football management game played with Panini collectible cards. As the previous episode was only released in Japan and Italy, it's with great pleasure we learn that this title will be released in english for the first time. Even if the machine's size restricts it to larger locations, its success is practically guaranteed. More especially since 256 players of the biggest european clubs (Ajax, Manchester United, Inter and AC Milan, Chelsea, Barcelona, ...) are accurately reproduced on the field. One of WCCF's originalities is that players in the game move accordingly to human player's cards position in real time! This game will be available in november for whole Europe. The House of the Dead 4 running on the Lindbergh (not using a Hitachi/PowerVR combo as previously announced but powered by Pentium 4 processor/nVidia graphic chip, it's in fact a PC-based system). The cabinet will be using a widescreen 62" (158 cm) flat monitor, the picture will be projected by a DLP (Digital Light Projector) and the overall design will be "unique" (very "undead" styled). This shooter will be played with UZIs that will be much needed to face the hordes of zombies which come from everywhere. It's said to be graphically astounding. At last, Dinosaur King which shares Mushiking's gameplay (fights of creatures found as collectible cards) but with dinosaurs instead of beetles. That should better match european kids' tastes. Moreover, the game will be released in Europe and USA prior to Japan because the Mushiking fever didn't fall down yet there. To supplement this nice offer, this year's hit games will be showcased too; OutRun2 SP deluxe, Initial D Version 3 Cycraft and the compact version of Derby Owner's Club.
Free Tekken 5.1 upgrade & Mario Kart Arcade GP to hit Europe!
An upgrade for Tekken 5 named "Tekken 5.1" will be available in the forthcoming days. All operators who purchased the original Tekken 5 game can obtain this upgrade free of charge from their local Namco distributor. This version 5.1 tunes numerous moves to make characters appear more "human" and restore a better balance between opponents. Talking about this, remember you can still read our review of the original version in the articles. The other news of the day is that Mario Kart Arcade GP will be showcased at Preview 2006 (12 & 13 october at Novotel London West). This confirms the european release of this crazy racer featuring Nintendo characters! Super Mario Kart entertained millions of players since its release in 1992 on 16-bit home system. 13 years later, Namco at last brings us an arcade episode in this unique series which is still very popular among players. Mario Kart Arcade GP will undoubtedly be THE racer of the year (and surely the most fun)!
American manufacturer Incredible Technologies made a special video DVD showcasing all its 2005 titles. Aimed at operators, this DVD showcases the Golden Tee LIVE golf game, Silver Strike Bowling and Big Buck Hunter 2006 - Call of the Wild, a hunting simulation. Aside gameplay details, each game features and regional earning reports, the disc also includes interviews of 4 of the most successful american operators sharing their thoughts about the different titles. This DVD can be obtained free of charge from Incredible Technologies' Sales Department. Golden Tee series is very popular in the USA where each new edition is a sure bet for operators. Moreover, its creators won many prizes during the years (as AMOA awards for Innovation and Most Played Game). Incredible Technologies games are distributed in Benelux by L.J.D. (Strassen, Luxembourg).
On 18 march 2004, Sega and Imagination Technologies announced licensing agreement to develop the next arcade platform based on the latest high end PowerVR chip. It's not the first time these companies work together since PowerVR chips already handle the graphics in Naomi and Atomiswave systems. After one year and a half of development comes the result: Lindbergh! PowerVR chips are known for the undisputed quality of their graphics. It even gets better this time with the usage of high definition screen! The followers in several successful series will be released on this system; Virtua Fighter 5, The House of the Dead 4 et Afterburner Next (return of the R360?). These games were presented at E3 2005. You can download the video of the presentation by clicking here. The recording quality isn't very good but pay attention to e.g. the VF5 characters animation, it's never seen before and is the proof that Sega masters this hardware. Of course this is a high end system so to follow Sammy's philosophy (formerly Sega) which tends to offer a relatively low-spec affordable system, another system is being developed. Named Aurora, it's based on a all-in-one chip solution lowering the production cost. This processor will include an optimised Hitachi SH-4 CPU clocked to 300Mhz (the same processor that's powering the Naomi, tuned a bit and running faster), a PowerVR MBX GPU (with an additional Vertex Geometry Processor) running at 150Mhz and a basic SPU. Performances should be between Naomi and Naomi 2. The rumor says the Aurora is running Linux embedded. This system which is jointly developed with SI-Electronics is aiming at replacing both Naomi and Atomiswave but the first titles will only be released in 2006. Whatever, we're looking forward to review the first Lindbergh powered games!
The Tekken 5 nationwide U.K. Tournament saw the victory of Ryan Hart. This 26-year-old londoner defeated Eze Izundu during the final that was held on saturday at the Namco Station County Hall (London). This tournament began three months earlier in several arcades accross the country and gathered U.K.'s best Tekken players. Ryan, who works as a product specialist in the consumer video games industry, received a cheque for £1000 (about €1480) from John McKenzie, Namco Europe Commercial Director. He also won a unique IC card embedded with "UK Champion" status. Well done Ryan!
Three months after its release, here comes at last the OutRun2 SP review. Sega brought many changes and new features to its well-known title making it more attractive. Go to the articles section to learn more about today's best racer. This game is the first one in a series reviewed in february. You'll discover the other reviews in the forthcoming weeks.
Maximum Tune 2 has just started shipping, this follow-up to the well-known streetracing game from Namco features 6 new cars, 10 new adversaries, a new ranking system, the legendary Hakone circuit and up to 4 players simulatneous play! The ability to save your progress and your vehicule's tuning on a IC card is ofcourse still present. Interesting fact, cards are totally interchangeable between both versions of the game. Another streetracer; Faster than Speed by Sammy offers you an amazing sense of speed, especially with the nitro boost enabled. Above this, 12 different (tunable) vehicles are available to race on the 12 featured circuits. This game is available as a dedicated cabinet, a kit (fitting almost every existing cabinet) or a simple Atomiswave cartridge (to replace very easily and at low cost the disastrous Maximum Speed). Like all Atomiswave games, its low price is its most appealing characteristic. While we're at talking about racers, a Mario Kart Arcade GP location test will take place in the UK, we'll give you the date very soon.
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