Welcome to another thrilling edition of Newsbytes, a collection of news items from the arcade and pinball world. This one has a little bit more commentary than normal, just due to the nature of the news. Let’s go!
The Adventure Ends For Laser Quest
Last year, I took my kids to a laser tag arena for the first time, and it just so happened to be Laser Quest. The place hadn’t changed at all from when I had last been there – in 1999 or so. The only exception would be the arcade, which was smaller but had somewhat recent titles there like FnF Super Cars.
We went on a Friday night, which would have been packed when I was a teenager. Alas, when we played, it was just me and my two kids in this giant arena – when we were done, it would have been easy to go back in for another round, but without other players, it just wasn’t as fun as it could/should have been.
Keep that in mind as you read that the company has permanently shuttered its operations after 27 years. This is due to the pandemic of course, although I find it a little odd, in that laser tag usually had social distancing baked right into it, and it wouldn’t have been difficult to beef up sanitization procedures in-between matches.
It is sad, but as my anecdotal story shows, the writing had been on the wall for a while. While there have been different laser tag systems to come along over the years, the ‘sport,’ if you want to call it that, has been stagnant for a long time. I rarely saw any marketing for it outside of the occasional trade show. Granted, it is tough to change up physical mazes all the time, but in my view, the LT industry should be the proving ground for Mixed Reality technology. Instead, that still seems to be under the primary purview of museums, even as projection mapping technologies come down in price. Even Augmented Reality could make sense to add variety and game modes to existing arenas.
Virtua Fighter Coming Back To Arcades?
Because Sega was coy about it in the reveal, we have to put a big maybe on this. The video does show a lot of arcades on it at least, but who knows. Per the description, this will likely be restricted to Japan if it does hit-up coin-op first, but there may be imports.
House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn Goes Gamblin’
Sega’s quite busy, and their announcements also include something to compete with Konami’s line of video game IP slots.
And last but not least from the Sega world we have the Astro City Mini with pink buttons.
Sound Voltex Exceed Gear Valkyrie Model On Location Test
Earlier this month, Konami put the new Valkyrie model cabinet out on location test. This features a larger monitor that operates at 120Hz, 4.1 ch sound, touch panel monitor & more. I don’t believe that a release date has been announced on this yet, but there’s a good chance it could hit Japanese arcades by the end of the year.
Holy Grail Get: Konami’s Racing Jam Super Deluxe
What if I told you that Konami had released a 70″ curved screen racing game back in 1997? Well hopefully, you’d believe me 😛 I did play one super-widescreen game by Sega a few years back, although the company ultimately ditched that in favor of a common large HD display.
Chances are that you didn’t come across this particular edition of Racing Jam back in the day, since it cost a mere $24,500 back then. Since these didn’t sell very well, and they came with one of those beloved suicide batteries schemes, very few working cabinets for them still exist. But at least one does, and YouTube user Vectrex4Life got his hands on one that the rest of us can enjoy vicariously
Papercraft Dariusburst Cabinet
I’m not sure if this JP only, or if they’ll release the special version here (please do it Taito!), but either way if you grab the Special Edition of the upcoming Dariusburst Cozmic Revelation, you’ll get a ton of nice goodies, including a papercraft Dariusburst EX arcade cabinet! Obviously, that’s not as cool as the real thing, but it certainly can fit into your home.
The deeproot Pinball Reveal – A Mess, But A Promising One
This past Monday, deeproot Pinball (yes, it’s supposed to be spelled like that, no capitals) was touting a big reveal of their first game Retro Atomic Zombieland, which would also showcase different technologies that they were bringing to the table. Instead, we got an apology message and a flurry of comments from people bashing the company for hyping up the event, only to botch it. Some leaks started coming out, so the company went ahead and released the “pinball ambassadors” from their NDAs.
One of those ambassadors, This Week In Pinball, wrote up a candid and detailed review of the game and the event, pointing out the innovations but also providing insight as to why they weren’t ready to launch just yet.
I do like the video screen being near the flippers (something that Heighway Pinball also did, just a little differently), although the narrowness of the screen doesn’t excite me much. It being a touchscreen is really cool though and I can see the potential there. Where they do have experienced game developers on their staff, I have to imagine that this is one of their ideas, which also hopefully means that any “video modes” in their games play better than what you typically find out there. I also like the parts being printed on the playfield and if the PinArmor actually works out as they say, then I’ll be happy (dimpled playfields on an $8000 pin does tend to make you feel a little cheated).
If you are unfamiliar with deeproot, they are another newcomer to the pinball industry, with their headquarters in Houston, but with some staff in Salt Lake City. They’ve been at this for several years, generally playing it coy as to what they were going to do, but also sometimes offering up some spicy talk about how they were going to rock the industry. I did get to meet with a couple of the animators at a Comic Convention event in Salt Lake last year, although I didn’t really hear back from them since things were still a ways off. I guess we’ll see if they can really walk the walk soon enough, but this event certainly didn’t do them any favors by how it seems to be playing out in the community. That can be rectified, but it will take a bit of work to get there.