Published October 6, 2018 Leave a Comment

Few companies are as popular in the arcade world as Taito. Taito is a Japanese company dedicated to the development, distribution, and sales of video games; or so you could say if the company wasn’t all but defunct to this day. Originally, founded in 1953 by the Russian entrepreneur Michael Kogan, Taito developed and released their first ever video game in 1973 called Elepong. They would continue to create games that were similar to other offerings found in the States along with imports and distribution of American arcade cabinets on Japanese soil. However, they also began the develop their own games, and struck gold in 1978 with a little timeless classic we like to call “Space Invaders.” This game has made them more than $500 million to this day. Other famous titles developed by the company were Bubble Bobble, Puzzle Bobble, Darius, Arkanoid, and Elevator Action, to name a few.

However, in 2005, Taito was bought by Square Enix and is now resting soundly as part of its parent company. We say the term “resting well”, because that’s all Taito seems to be doing nowadays. Compared to their prestigious run back in the 70’s & 80s, you could say that they’ve become a shadow of their former selves. In Japan, however, the company has been keeping afloat with some releases, but not at the rate that they showed a few decades ago. Their most recent title was Groove Coaster 4, the latest installment in their popular arcade rhythm game series, which was released this past March 29. This game featured an all-new level system, along with a dynamic difficulty setting ranging from 1 to 15. The developers also added a new stage unlocking system and several online functions.

Furthermore, Taito continues to support their NESiCAxLIVe download platform in Japan. But, even there, their releases have been minimal. They also had a stint at creating a VR arena game, but the idea seems to have gone up in smoke since no news have come from that project in particular.

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Published September 28, 2018 Leave a Comment
Published September 28, 2018 Leave a Comment

Continued:

Elements

Like all games, the player has several elements with which they can interact in Choplifter:

Hostages: As we mentioned above, there are 64 hostages in each game of Choplifter, which must be rescued if aiming for a perfect game. They are separated into 16 groups, which are held in four barracks. In order to pick them up, the player must carefully land the chopper nearby, and the hostages will make their way towards the aircraft. Only 16 can be transported at one time, so the player will have to drop them off at the base after picking them up from the barracks.

Tanks: The most basic enemy of the game. Upon detecting you, they will give a bit of chase. However, they cannot hit you if you remain airborne. You are only at risk of tank fire when you land to pick up hostages. You can easily dispatch these tanks by flying over them and dropping a bomb by orienting the chopper towards the camera and pressing the fire button.
Jets: The second type of enemy in the game only appears after you have delivered at least one prisoner to the base camp. Each of these is armed with two missiles, which they can launch either at the player or at the hostages scurrying about below. Dodging missiles early on is easy, since they usually don’t fire at you when you’re on the ground. However, at later levels, these missiles will chase you down no matter what.

Air Mines: The most dreaded enemies in the game. Like their name suggests, these mines hover at mid height, waiting for you get distracted and crash into them. Once you are on the same screen as an air mine, it will begin to give chase. As you rescue more hostages, they become increasingly aggressive, even dropping bombs on hostages in the final parts of the game. Mines can cross over into you home territory, so keep that in mind when making a run for it.

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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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