Arc-aid! Save Our Coin-ops!

Well here I am, writing my first post. Ooh, it’s exciting!

What can I say? I’m a bit of an arcade fanatic: arcades like the Trocadero in London are fantastic places that are becoming few and far between. There really aren’t many others I can think of that aren’t combined with a bowling alley consisting of one abused dance machine that’s seen one or three too many cheap stiletto heels.

‘The International Gaming Expo’ at Earls Court was all about the arcades: every type of arcade machine was there. It’s a trade event with an important purpose – to promote new (and old) arcade machines to be sold on to arcades. Even more important… it was all free to play! Get in!

There were a few big names at the event. Konami are always big stars in the arcades due to the huge amount of rhythm action games they produce. Their flagship new title was rather predictably called ‘Dance Dance Revolution X’ and was covered in people too good at the game. ‘Ubeat’, a button touching rhythm game, was covered with people looking confused and traumatised to the sound of (or because of the sound of) YMCA. Konami were not alone at the booth – they partnered with Activision to create ‘Guitar Hero Arcade’, again covered with people who are admittedly, better… than… me. It’s exactly the same as the home console version, but it still wasn’t as good as ‘Guitar Freaks’.

Guitar Hero Arcade is extreme, but Ubeat is so extreme, my eyes were literally burning…

Sega were rocking the show big style, with some of their massive and over the top game machines, one of which was so big and expensive looking, I had to investigate… OK, so the last thing I was expecting was a game called ‘Hummer’. To describe the beauty that stood before me… I would say it was a delightful mixture of ‘OutRun’ and ‘Sega Rally’, but with Humvees. As this is my first blog, you may not yet realise – that is very high praise indeed.

Not only did Sega have a goodly amount of arcade racers, but they had a cheeky gem hidden behind them: ‘UFO Stomper’. It’s basically a giant projector that projects images onto the floor, making the whole floor a giant touch screen. Imagine an iPhone for your feet, made by Sega. Yummy. There were plenty of games to play on it: from jumping over a projected, spinning electric pole in a 4 player jump-fest (electrocution of rival players is not guaranteed, but entertaining); a ‘Guitar Hero’ style rhythm action game and crushing one eyed aliens with your feet to save an odd looking guy in a space suit.

I admit that due to my lack of balance and the fact that I got distracted by a large cookie at the Sega Bar, the poor astronaut may have been nibbled a few times but, lo and behold, he survived – and I got my cookie! The ‘UFO Stomper’ machine uses a double projection system that provides a perfect picture on the floor and no shadows, and couldn’t be any more spectacular! You can have yours for a rather modest $28,000 (the same price as a smooth and shiny, used 2007 Nissan 350Z).

Moving swiftly on (before the realisation that I’ll never be able to own either one of those incredible beasts sinks in), Sega also let out the overly cute and colourful ‘Brick People’. You stack cute plastic bricks with eye lashes in front of the cabinet’s screen, to help overly cute creatures of an unknown description to eat cute and also delicious apples in difficult to get places within a specific time. This game should probably come with a health warning, as it’s so sweet that it might rot your teeth. Oh, and because the bricks nearly fall onto you when your time has run out.

So cute that it even makes sleeping Pug puppies look brutal

Now, before I start wearing cute dresses and pink bows in my hair – and start bringing nuisance law suits against Sega, there were also a few arcade oddities that I must mention, such as “New for 2009” ‘Need for Speed: Carbon’. ‘Err hang on a minute,’ I thought, ‘this machine is surely about three years too late!’ Then I played it, and realised it’s still as good as ‘Need for Speed: Carbon’ was on the home consoles. Three years ago.

I then found a real oddity. ‘Textminator’ is a game (just about), where you type words that appear on the screen using a mobile phone key layout. I decided to ‘take on’ my best friend Susan. Unfortunately I lost badly as the keypad you type with does not cater for someone who has been using predictive text for many, many, years. So I said ‘C U L8R’ and left.

For me, The International Gaming Expo was not only a free version of the Trocadero, but something that taught me a lot more about coin ops and really how important they are. Yes, I know I will be playing the new ‘OutRun’ when it finally comes to Xbox Live, but at least for now arcades give me physical people to play, oversized cabinets to play in and not just little avatars and voices over a headset.


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18 responses to “Arc-aid! Save Our Coin-ops!”

  1.  avatar

    I want to try brick people it looks fantastic. As for guitar hero if it does well there will be room for konamis other awesome game guitar freaks.

    I wish EA would leave the arcade scene alone. They release utter shite arcade ports. There is slow down and ithandles like shit. Dunno about carbon though. it is better than the fast and furious games *shudders*

    Dance dance X is going to be awesome the number of tracks alone will make me invest some time in it. I just hope they decide to release the updates in the west as its not been confimed as of yet 🙁

  2.  avatar

    on another note ive noticed a lot of dedicated machines. Long gone arte they days of rows and rows of the same machine all playing something difrent. 🙁

  3. Snozzeltoff avatar
    Snozzeltoff

    I want to play Hummer!
    OutRun and Sega Rally mixed together, thats just awesome. Though i bet i still win.

    Some funny remarks in this post, i did chuckle at you being distracted by cookies and people confused/scared of YMCA :-p

    Cant really say the Textminator sounds any good – definately would not ‘C U L8R’

    Lets not get started on the subject of NFS, oh no no no… 😉

  4. Michael avatar

    First, welcome! Second, are you dissing arcades with bowling alleys? I hope not because that’s the only type I’ve ever known and loved plus I would kick yer arse at bowling! Maybe. Third, you like Gallardo so you’re OK. Fourth, I’m going to the Trocadero with some of this lot later in the month and I am even more excited after reading this! You coming? Last, what is predictive texting?

  5.  avatar
    Anonymous

    ^^ Dissing bowling alleys and arcades, how did you come up with that?
    Are you serious, you don’t know what predictive texting is? Try wikipedia…

  6. Michael avatar

    Erm, the first paragraph? Yeah, that’s the one! With the mentioning of bowling alley-arcade combos. I was being ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek though.

    And I am deadly serious about the texting.

  7.  avatar
    Anonymous

    Dont worry Michael You’ll feel at home knowing that Trocedero does have a bowling alley, unless thats been closed down now like the upper floors (old SEGA zone).

    Best London Arcade for me will always be Namco Wonderpark, which was near Piccadilly Circus, but then they closed it down to concentrate on the Namco Arcade at County Hall (nr London Eye).

  8.  avatar
    Anonymous

    ^^ Barry

    Always Anon 🙁

  9. Lorna avatar
    Lorna

    Plastic brick game sounds bizarre! Other than grabber machines and a few games of a horribe 3d Streetfighter thing, I never really gamed much in arcades, probably because the ones on the local seafront were scary places. Welcome, btw 🙂

  10. GamerGeekGirl avatar
    GamerGeekGirl

    I miss arcades… Our University Union has a Time Crisis game, and a Dance Dance Something game… but not much else.

    I should really visit the Trocadero again… ^^

  11. lordstar avatar
    lordstar

    insertcoin is coming up in a few months time. Thats going to be ace 😉

  12. arc14716 avatar
    arc14716

    Well done first blog to the newest Ready up writer.

    Anyway, those arcade games look fantastic. We only have two arcades out here that I know of. They just got their DDR machines upgraded to DDR Supernova 2 and meanwhile, you guys have DDR X with an upgraded cabinet. We still have machines that are like 5 to 10 years old that should have been retired years ago.

  13. Jake avatar

    Brick People does look rather fun in a strange kind of way. Especially once a fair few sticky fingered oiks have got their hands on it and either managed to steal some of the bricks or they’re coated in a strange “child-slime” that defies all scientific logic or cleaning.

  14. John.B avatar

    As if your words prompted it there are rumours Sega are going to unveil their new arcade board soon.

    And welcome to the team 🙂

  15. Lordstar avatar
    Lordstar

    Lorna – The cranes they supply to this country are so ugly its untrue. Nothing like the Sega UFO catchers. I really want to import one in to the country next year. I was completley trans fixed by them when i was in Japan

  16. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    I knew all those years of not being able to do predictive text would one day pay off….What are the nay sayers saying now eh?

  17. Shaz avatar

    Jeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaallllooooouuuuuusssss! ^^

  18. Darach avatar
    Darach

    Jealous +1. >:(

    And they were… all… free? All? Even the thing with the stepping on things? 🙁

    What about the cookie? Surely you had to pay for the cookie?

    Oh God, now I want a cookie. 🙁

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