Published September 21, 2018 Leave a Comment

Nostalgia for classic gaming has never been higher, as evidenced by pop culture references and the release of “mini” classic consoles. Atari has released several versions of their Atari 2600 under the Flashback name; Sega has given a similar treatment to the Master System and the Genesis. Nintendo in particular has also been on a roll lately, launching both the NES Classic and Super Nintendo Classic to critical and sales acclaim. Both of these systems have proven to be hugely popular, offering miniature versions of the popular consoles they’re named after, which reigned supreme in the 80’s and up to the mid 90’s. These consoles are popular for breathing life back into the video game industry after the video game crash of 1983 in the West. The platforms are also responsible for bringing us timeless classics like Mario Bros. Balloon Fight, and Bases Loaded, among others. The console also received ports of the most popular games in the arcade, such as Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and Pac-Man, among others. Few companies stood a chance against Nintendo and Sega, as they waged the great “Bit War” in the late 80’s to determine which one would come out on top in terms of visuals and gameplay. While we know how that race ended, the competition stole ground away from other companies who also wanted to release their own consoles, and because of this (among other reasons), they never made it into the mainstream market.

The Neo-Geo AES by SNK is one such console. Touted as a “24-bit” cartridge-based console (due to the custom 24-bit GPU), this was launched in 1990 alongside the arcade version that was known as the MVS. The hardware between the two was exactly the same, allowing for true arcade-quality home ports that could be delivered quickly. Compared to the competition of the SNES and Genesis, the AES offered crisp 2D graphics along with vastly superior sound quality. The problem with this business model was the launch price, sporting the steep entry cost of $700. The games were then $200 each, a far cry above $80 cartridges found among the competition. Despite these factors, the AES/MVS platform was responsible for many iconic franchises, such as Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, and mainly the King of Fighters and Metal Slug series.

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Published September 14, 2018 Leave a Comment

Video games that bear the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (TMNT for short) name have quite a legacy to live up to, both inside and out of the arcade. It is a tough legacy to properly honor however due to both the popularity and sheer quality that titles from this franchise used to have. With the turn of the century, we’ve seen a few new games starring those lovable “heroes in a half-shell”, mostly for consoles and/or PC. Unfortunately, these games were somewhat mediocre and unpolished, compared to the best games of the past like Turtles in Time, or even the first TMNT for arcades. Even Platinum Games, a modern developer famous for instant hits like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and NieR: Automata, couldn’t live up to the legacy. In a turn of events that they would probably like to forget, their take on TMNT, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, was pulled from the digital shelves after less than a year of release.

Nevertheless, the continued failure of games about our favorite crime-fighting turtles hasn’t deterred certain companies from taking another crack at it. Back in October 2017, arcade developer Raw Thrills was discovered to be diligently working on a new beat ‘em up game based on the TMNT. The game, which was simply called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is based on the latest cartoon series that aired on Nickelodeon from 2012 to 2017. This offered a slightly different take on the famous reptiles, at least in terms of aesthetics.

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Published September 7, 2018 Leave a Comment
Published September 7, 2018 Leave a Comment

It’s not hard to guess the legacy that tournament fighting games have had in the arcade industry. The ‘fighting fever’ began in the mid-80s when you had titles like Karate Champ and Kung Fu Master come to the table; then it kicked into high gear with the likes of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat in the 90s. This bold new genre was crucial in breathing new life to the industry after the video game crash of ‘83 in the West. The said crash took place due to a glut of awful games that were released in the early 80s, both to arcades and consoles. The resulting effect damaged interest for a time in video games all together. However, more than the sheer amount of bad games, parents of arcade-goers also had a moral battle against the industry, as they felt that their kids were spending too much time (and money) playing grotesque games with gratuitous violence. In just over two years, from 1982 to 1985, the arcade industry went from a net worth of $12 billion to just under $100 million.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

In 1985, arcades suffered an even bigger blow as Nintendo released their Nintendo Entertainment System, which was closely followed by Sega’s release of the Sega Master System and Atari’s 7800 ProSystem in 1986. Home computers also started to carve out a niche with 16-bit processors, setting the stage for the “Bit Wars” of the late 80s/early 90s that would continue to give attention to home platforms. While every system was still judged on the quality of their arcade ports, more and more companies began to shift their focus (and game development dollars) more towards successful home platforms. As time went by, the 16-bit hype came to consoles as Sega released the Genesis and Nintendo brought along the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Arguments about which system is “the best” still flares up from time to time – despite the fact that how many ‘bits’ the processor could handle was ultimately not that important to the quality of games that were brought to the machines. As of right now, history has shown us that Nintendo came out on top in the end. However, with time, both companies were closely tied on the spot to the top, as they both had a large number of loyalists around the world.

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Published August 31, 2018 Leave a Comment

April is almost over, which means that it’s time for another episode of Getting Good. Like always, we’ll be talking about a timeless classic – Namco’s Dig Dug. This was a game that was easy to find in most arcades in the 80’s and was ported to a variety of 8-bit era consoles. Recently it was also seen in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. The game featured simplistic but colorful graphics, as well as awesome sound effects and gameplay that put it on par with other timeless hits like Pac-Man. With this title, Namco attempted to cash in on the hype of maze games, but while also adding its own unique twist. In Dig Dug, the players not only navigate through mazes; they create them in order to catch their enemies, pump them full of air with the character’s trusty pump, and blow them up before proceeding on to the next level.

The gameplay of Dig Dug was simple to grasp, yet difficult to master, especially for those wanting to set high scores. The objective of each level was to take control of Dig Dug and put order to his garden patch, which has gotten out of hand and is under attack by nasty Pookas and hot-headed Fygars. Dig Dug must, as his name suggests, dig his way through each garden patch, reach each enemy, and blow them up with his pump before moving to the next stage. The player must avoid contact with the enemy at all cost, as well as avoid the ghosts that wander around after defeating each one. Furthermore, they must avoid avoiding Fygar’s fire, while digging their way to each enemy before dispatching them one by one.

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Published August 17, 2018 Leave a Comment

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) games have long held a place of honor in the beat ‘em up genre. Their fresh, fast-paced gameplay, coupled with satisfying enemies to thrash across every stage, and some awesome, fulfilling boss fights make for a memorable experience that stands the test of time. Furthermore, the first installment of this game spawned what is arguably one of the best games in the genre: Turtles in Time. The first TMNT was developed in 1989 by Konami and is based on the animated cartoon series of the same name. The game was globally acclaimed and received ports on both the Atari ST, as well as the Nintendo Entertainment System under the name Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. With Raw Thrills putting the finishing touches on a return to both the Ninja Turtles franchise as well as the beat ‘em up genre with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, let’s take a trip back down memory lane with this episode of Getting Good and covering the original Konami release from 1989.

As you would expect, players get to choose from one of the four awesome reptiles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael as they try and save reporter April O’Neil from the clutches of the evil Shredder and his goon squad, The Foot Clan.

In the first part of this article, we’ll briefly go over the controls, and the enemies you’ll face throughout the game, as well as walk you through the first two stages so that you can get started on the right foot.

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Published August 10, 2018 Leave a Comment

Since this new century began 18 years ago, there has not been a better time to jump into the arcade/amusement business than right now. That much was still apparent from the energy and new products that the PrimeTime Amusements team saw at Amusement Expo 2018.

The Amusement Expo in general this year saw an increase in attendance over what the show saw in Dallas last year. While many of the booths featured a similar product mix as to what was seen at IAAPA 2017 in Orlando a few months ago, there were some differences too.

We posted several photos of the event to our Instagram page. That, as well as our Facebook page are excellent ways to stay current with the latest news.

First off, Sega Amusements brought along an almost complete prototype of Transformers Shadows Rising to the show. This was the first public appearance of the game which serves as a sequel to Sega’s Transformers Human Alliance. The graphics are greatly improved, the action frantic, a new achievements system incentivizes repeat play and the cabinet features the bright red & blue accents of the legendary Optimus Prime Autobot. We will be posting more information about this game soon!

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Published July 27, 2018 Leave a Comment

arcade cabinets

I bet that when someone mentions the term ‘arcade cabinet’, all everyone thinks about are the big fridge-shaped machines that take up a ton of space. They might also think about the machines using old, dated hardware, and yet manage to provide some of the most memorable experiences of our childhoods. Video arcade games have been produced since the early 70s, with electro-mechanical machines being created with interesting variety during the decades prior. With the arrival of Galaxy Game in 1971, the commercially successful Pong in 1972, and the plethora of games that ensued due to their success, the shape and style of arcade cabinets typically followed the pattern of what the most recent popular game had established. Some odd experiments came out of cabinet designs in the 70s but for the most part, the typical game you might come across was the classic upright cabinet format.

The golden age of gaming in the 80’s saw many innovations hit the scene along with the formats that they come in. Home console gaming became a widespread phenomenon in the 70s  thanks to companies like Magnavox with their Odyssey, and Atari, with their VCS 2600. The latter became the first video game product to sell in the millions, vaunting Atari to legendary status that led to people saying “I’m going to play Atari” instead of “I’m going to play video games”. What made home console gaming popular however wasn’t so much the name as the games. The Atari 2600 didn’t truly catch on fire until it “brought the arcade home” with a widely praised port of Taito’s Space Invaders. True – the arcade experience was superior in graphics & sound, also being able to set itself apart thanks to the ability to produce unique control schemes for each and every game. It also had a social angle attached to it that home console gaming could never touch. But for the next two decades, every home console would use arcade ports as a selling point to try and get people to buy into the machine. No, it wasn’t as cool as getting a full sized arcade machine in your house but it did give the product appeal as it tried to replicate what could be done with an arcade cabinet.

Times have changed and while modern consoles only tout arcade classics on their platforms, arcade machines are still being made and are done so in a variety of styles.

In this article, we aim to list the types of arcade cabinets currently in existence. Keep in mind that we won’t be mentioning merchandise games such as crane games, or mechanical amusements such as basketball courts, and skeeball, among others. Instead, we’ll be focusing on the most prominent cabinet styles that video arcade machines have assumed over the years

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Published July 9, 2018 Leave a Comment

Back in October last year, we wrote an article about the hugely popular PC game, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S Battlegrounds (PUBG), and about how it had breached the important milestone that was simultaneous concurrent players in a massively multiplayer online game. On that occasion, we wrote that the game had surpassed the generous number of just over 1.9 million concurrent players as of October 9th, which completely shattered the player count of the most popular game at the time, DOTA 2, which had an all-time high of around 1.3 million concurrent players.

Since the time when we wrote that article, PUBG has been officially launched, which means that it’s no longer on early access, and instead is sold as a full-fledged game. The much-needed vaulting mechanics, as well as improved gun, vehicle, and movement controls have also been implemented, making the game the best it’s ever been: at least in terms of mechanics. Miramar, a new map that is inspired by arid, desert towns and locations have also been added and, in comparison with the other existing map, Erangel, the difference was as clear as night and day. Not only is the map hugely different from the lush, forest and plains environments offered by the previous maps, but the optimization is much better, performance-wise, making matches that take place in Miramar run much better than those in Erangel. The developer, Blue Hole, has since been releasing performance patches to improve matches in Erangel and put them on par with Miramar, to the joy of many players.

As a game itself, PUBG is getting updated fairly regularly, which shows the love and care that the developers have for the groundbreaking game. However, this love is quickly betrayed by its player base, as cheaters are becoming increasingly common in many matches of the game. From speed hacking, and walling, to instant heals, aimbotting and invincibility, the hackers are out in full force when it comes to PUBG. I, myself, have run into cheaters on several occasions, which always lead to an early loss, and sends my team careening back to the lobby screen. The whole affair is very frustrating, to say the least.

This isn’t to say that the developers haven’t taken this issue seriously, as on several occasions they have implemented increasingly stricter anti-cheat measures in the form of BattleEye protection, among other tools, which have helped to ban millions (you read that right) of cheaters, so far. In January, alone, over 1 million players were banned for cheating. Nevertheless, despite the rate at which cheaters are getting punished, rumors have started to circulate that these unscrupulous individuals are in great part responsible for the game bleeding concurrent players. Honest players just aren’t willing to tolerate dealing with people who would do anything and everything just to earn a (dishonest) win; at least not when there are alternatives in the market.

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Published June 29, 2018 Leave a Comment
Arcade Nook