Newsbytes: Pinball Hall of Fame & Bowl Expo; Scorbit; 90’s Namco & More

Hello everyone, and welcome to another fine edition of Newsbytes. Today will be a little focused on items from Bowl Expo, where I’ll alert you that I’m feeling a little more critical today than usual, but I do try and keep things as balanced as possible.

Bowl Expo 2019

Since I live relatively close to Las Vegas (by plane), I went down to the city to attend the International Bowl Expo. To be honest, there really wasn’t much to see after Amusement Expo 2019 (AEI19) that was also in Vegas, as manufacturers didn’t bring any new-new video pieces along like they had last year. That said, there were production models of prototypes seen at AEI19, and I finally took the time to visit the world famous Pinball Hall of Fame. I had never made the time to go there previously, but I really should have, and will in subsequent visits. The only problem is that none of the amusement trade shows next year are going to Vegas, so it might be a while.

Before I share videos of the games that were at Bowl Expo, I should note that there was an area where several different companies had come together to show off their currently selling titles. Among the pieces that I’d seen at IAAPA and AEI, Bandai Namco was there with a new collaboration piece between them an Andamiro called Red Zone Rush. It’s like a cross between two redemption games in their past – DC Superheroes and Goal Line Rush. It is disappointing though that the company seems to have completely written off video games though, with the only new stuff we’re seeing from them now is redemption and VR games that only a few get to play at an FEC here and there. It’s a far cry from just a few years back where they always had a strong line-up of new video titles. That said, when I came across the game, people were playing it, especially a kid who was working hard at collecting all of the offensive and defensive line cards. Card collecting is hot right now, so I imagine that this is testing well.

Anyways…here are updates to games you have possibly played already out there, now with some improvements. Starting with Daytona Championship USA New Season Edition. Overall, I had fun with this, even though I’m sorely lacking in practice. I really haven’t been able to play the previous versions of DCUSA with enough consistency to compare the feel of the steering and whether it’s really improved from where the game was – or to the original – but I figured that it was just me on some of the turns. It did take some getting used to though, so I did a little better as I played. It would be nice to find a place that has both the original Daytona USA and this New Season Edition to play both on the same track, then see how it goes. The graphics are improved, and I even had a random guy walk up and say so while I was playing. On another note, I was surprised to see that they did not bring ATV Slam with them, but they also didn’t send Scarlet Dawn there either, so it was likely due to the expect buyer pool of Bowl Expo (which is different from AEI or IAAPA).

Then LAI was seeing a lot of action at their booth and the new update to Virtual Rabbids The Big Ride. As mentioned in the video, I played and enjoyed the slightly interactive space ride, finding how they went about it a clever way to enhance the overall experience.  Unfortunately for me, it seems that getting Lasik doesn’t help my headache issues when it comes to VR, but it did lessen my vertigo issues. After using it, I was stuck with some pain in my head for the rest of the day, particularly behind my right eye (I’m not blaming LAI for that, it’s just me and VR; as such, I didn’t bother to use any of the other VR systems that were there, but being honest, they all looked to be doing the exact same thing as Hologate just with different software & names…it’s all very underwhelming to see so many generic copycats, like coming across overhead fishing games these days. For LAI’s part at this show, they get the bonus of actually having something a different than four people standing in a roped off square space, but I’m sure we’ll see a bunch of those again at IAAPA19. /idigress).

I also got to see the production version of Centipede Chaos, running in Amusement Mode nonetheless, which I was happy about. I only realized how it works while filming this – in the default redemption mode, you can only play to the Mega Spider, then win or lose, it’s game over. In Amusement Mode, if you reach the Mega Spider and die, you can keep going. I’m not sure if there’s an end apart from defeating the Mega Spider, but it’s certainly got more to keep playing for when it’s just for score. They also changed the joysticks as you’ll see below, but I really want to see what would happen if you plugged an arcade-grade USB trackball into the game 😛

UNIS Launches A New Website

Sleeker & better organized than before. Could also mean that it’s going to be updated more frequently; they also appear to no longer be saving images using indexed color, but that’s a separate issue that only I am happy about 😛

Launch Trailer For Samurai Spirits

Moving on from Bowl Expo, let’s see what else has been going on in arcade land this week. SNK has launched their revival of Samurai Spirits to the PS4 & Xbox One, with the arcade version landing in Japan (and subsequently Round 1 USA) sometime this summer and a Switch port this winter. Unfortunately (I’m using that word too often lately), the rest of us small fry Western arcades get left out in the cold as usual, where you’ll probably find this at an arcade that focuses on fighters, but using a timer or some kind of pirate board. Oh well.

Connecting Pinball Machines To The Internet With Scorbit

Some time ago (a few years?), I recall coming across news of a system that an electrical engineer was working on that could capture high score data from any arcade machine, that could then be posted online. I can’t recall what it was called and I can’t find the Newsbytes where it was mentioned, but it was one of those great things of promise that apparently never came to fruition.

Now, someone beyond Stern is looking to do the same with pinball machines, but it appears there is a better chance of it actually happening. Called Scorbit, the system of capturing scores from any pinball machine has been in development for the past five years and hopes to launch soon – although the article mentions that Stern is also working on something along those lines (although I would be surprised if it works as universally as Scorbit does). Jersey Jack machines already allow you to share your scores online using a QR code scanner, but unfortunately QR stuff seems to be ignored by most consumers out there (I have all of my Raw Thrills machines that support such codes with it on, but I’ve never seen someone scanning & sharing :/ )

For myself, I would be interesting in adding such a system, assuming the cost is reasonable and that it would help boost play to my arcade. I haven’t seen much of any boost by adding ColorDMD displays, although I still love them. I noticed at the Pinball Hall of Fame that they had a few converted to CDMD; that would be quite a place if they could get every machine connected, although they would need a bit of a wild setup with a lot of RJ-45 ports to make that happen.

Of course one question up in the air is, how will it handle the settings? Every pinball machine has some way of modifying the settings, from difficulties on certain game modes and targets, to how often extra balls, specials, and replays are handed out, all of which can affect how a game scores with bonuses and the like. The article mentions that Scorbit can analyze game settings, so perhaps it can only post scores that follow specific or tournament settings? I guess we’ll wait and see.

The Anti-Piracy Code Built Into Atari’s Centipede

We’ve got another great blog post to highlight from Tony Temple on some arcade history, this time focus on anti-piracy efforts that were built into Atari’s Centipede. Ed Logg came up with a clever way to use a key and International Morse Code that would tell them if the pirate had copied their code or not. It makes you wonder what other hidden traps are lurking around in the code of games out there…

Blast From The Past: Playing 90’s Arcade Games At A Namco Showroom

Thanks to John Andersen for finding these; while I subscribed to user Kunkun Kun on Twitter, a lot of these arcade finds are buried within much longer videos that cover other gaming items and I just haven’t had the time to look through everything that the user has posted. The first video shows a visit to a Namco showroom in Tokyo to play some Tekken; the second shows some other titles like Ace Driver and Cyber Commando. I’ve never come across an Ace Driver, but it looks exactly like I would expect Pole Position to be in 3D. Warning: This will also deepen any sadness you might have, as mentioned above, regarding Namco’s current treatment of video arcade games. :/

As a note, while I copied the videos with the appropriate time stamp, embedding removes those so it starts from the beginning. If you just want to jump to the pertinent parts, goto 15:20 on the first video and jump to 7:00 on the second.

The Most Popular Theme Parks of 2018

Forbes has an article about theme park attendance in 2018, and it’s not much of a surprise that Disney dominates there as much as they dominate at the box office. I was a little surprised at Universal Studios Florida, as I figured it would have been a little higher, but hey, 10 million people through any park in a year is nothing to sneeze at. I’d be curious to learn what are the best performing arcade machines that find themselves on any of these premises.

Capcom Holding Street Fighter League Arcade 2019 At Taito Megarage Next Month

If you’re in Japan and into competing on Street Fighter, then Capcom & Taito are looking for the best Street Fighter V players to come and duke it out next month. The host venue is the Taito Megarage arcade bar, where qualifiers will be held through the month with the final match on July 28th. More info can be found here.

and to end off with some SF-related fun:

And here’s the GIF result: pic.twitter.com/ltubdrA2kw

— Manuel García Melgar (@Kopke) June 23, 2019

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