EAG Trade Show: January 2018

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Hopefully by now you will have worked out that this blog is all about classic arcade gaming. I tend to write about games released during the ‘Golden Age’ – loosely speaking, this is the period from 1979 to 1984.

The arcade industry has changed since then beyond all recognition. So assuming you can find an arcade these days, what can you expect to play? Well, quite a lot as it happens.

EAG LOGO

Back in January this year, I paid a visit to an industry exhibition in London here in the UK. The EAG Show (formally known as ATEI) brings together the great and the good of the arcade industry all under one roof, where operators can view and demo the latest arcade releases. Expect to see video games, pinball and other redemption machines all under one roof.

I thought it would be interesting to see how arcades are shaping up these days, and try out what today’s consumers will be playing in the months to come.

One of the common themes throughout the show was driving games. Or at least games that were simulators around the theme of driving.

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Sega’s long-standing Daytona licence continues to bear fruit in the form of Daytona Championship USA. Built in cameras take pictures of players’ “racing faces” for the amusement of those watching the game
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The Cruisin’ franchise continues thanks to the efforts of Raw Thrills and Nintendo. Love the LED edging around these cabs. Gameplay video here if you’re interested
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More Nintendo driving action here. Mario Kart DX is another driver with front facing cameras
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This seemed the most technical of the drivers at the show. Race Craft was a popular PC-based racing simulator that has made the transition to the arcades
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Even the steering wheels are fashioned from the real-world

Sega’s presence at the show was impressive. Certainly the darlings of the arcade scene right now, they took up the bulk of the floorspace at the show, and had plenty on offer alongside their racing games:

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Sega’s impressive stand at the EAG Show this year
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Luigi’s Mansion Arcade looked like fun. Sega’s official video is here.
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Sega’s Let’s Go Island
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Target Bravo was an on-rails shooter
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Remember the Moto-GP franchise? It’s back…

Sega released their own video of the best of the show this year, which is worth a look. Many of the machines I’ve pictured above are featured:

Pinball was present at the show. Many newer tables from Stern and Jersey Jack were on the floor and playable courtesy of UK pinball retailer Pinball Heaven:

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The Big Lebowski, from Dutch Pinball drew the crowds
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And Jersey Jack’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Dialed In were available to play

But it wasn’t just pinballs from the big two. This rare Alien pinball machine, created by the now-defunct Heighway Pinball company was on Home Leisure Direct’s stand. Playable too!

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Alien by Heighway Pinball. Take a closer look here
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Stern’s Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy pinball tables

Raw Thrills had plenty on show too:

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Jurassic Park Arcade
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This was a cool nod to arcade-past. Four-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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I’ve played this before. Space Invaders, updated to a huge screen
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Worlds largest Pac-Man. Interesting to see Galaga on-screen

Today’s iteration of Atari has a habit of lending its name and IP to pretty much anyone with an idea and a cheque book. However, the mechanical Pong game is actually very nice. One was on hand at the show. I played this at the Free Play Florida event last year and really enjoyed it:

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Atari’s Pong update. I wonder how many orders they took from Operators?
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I can see this working in a bar rather than an arcade
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Build quality was questionable from what I could see
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These Atari stools were pretty cool

Other random stuff I saw included:

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VR company Immotion had this impressive looking VR LightCycles game
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Typhoon is a coin-operated media-based motion simulator created by Triotech. It is a 3D arcade machine with 2 seats for people to sit in including 15 films where it can shake and drop. Amazingly, the machine delivers up to 2G Forces of acceleration.
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Wheel of Fortune type games here
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This was a six-seat VR simulator using the Oculus Rift technology headsets
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This was another Raw Thrills title. X Games SnowBoarder was a fun sim
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Air hockey! Still going strong after all these years!
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These mini-cabs ran emulation software licensed from the original IP holders. Cool looking things to be fair.

My buddy Alex from Nintendo Arcade was with me for the day and he pulled together a great video of what was on display – check out his video below:

So there you go. A quick roundup of what’s out there today, arcade-wise. I had a really good day out at the show. Plenty to see, and a demonstration of a buoyant arcade market!

What struck me was that everything was HUGE, big and loud. Which is the world we are in today I suppose. Compared to classic arcade games that had to sell gameplay over everything else to get to people playing, today’s machines seem to be more style over substance. Everything is brash, trying to shout louder than everything else – presumably to draw players in – and I suppose in today’s world, where consumers can get some pretty immersive experiences at home on modern-day consoles, the manufacturers have to go down that route.

You have to wonder what early 80’s arcade dwellers would have made of this stuff – it is light years away from the simple 8-bit games of the day.

There was a large element of “simulation” rather than play, and visitors were left with no doubt that the hot topic at the moment is VR. I’d expect the immediate future of arcades to be growing in that direction for the foreseeable future.

Hope you enjoyed this slight diversion from my normal subject matter!

See you next week, where normal ‘classic arcade’ service will be resumed!

Tony

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Faust says:

    I feel like arcades have always been loud. There always seemed to be a screaming ‘magpie’ game with it’s volume cranked high. Usually the “Wizard of Wor” game. And then there were others which would mock you and dare you to play them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter West says:

    A great read Tony. It’s unfortunate that the Alien Pinball will most likely disappear from view fairly soon. Although the gameplay is apparently top notch there are a lot of issues with the machine and specifically getting hold of spares. It’s not helped by the fact that Heighway Pinball went into insolvency a couple of weeks back either.

    The whole thing has got the pinball community in a real state. Check out Pinball News for more info, but by all accounts it’s a real shame as the Alien Pinball was, by all accounts, a really nice and playable machine. Such a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tony says:

    I was just reading about the whole Alien Pinball debacle last night. Very sad indeed – I feel for the guys who lost deposits. The game was amazing for the 10 minutes I got to play it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. FREEJACK1971 says:

    I’m just a grumpy old fart. I’ve played some of those games here in the U.S. That Space Invaders game is just obnoxious. And the worlds largest Galaga is a novelty. I guess everything has to be extreme to get a kid to look up from his/her mobile device.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. _Spr_Drnk says:

    It would be truly wonderful to imagine real arcades could make a comeback, but these machines are all so bespoke (read:expensive) as well as being massive in size you’re only going to see one, maybe two at the local bowling alley or cinema. I think there’s an opportunity for an out of the home gaming experience to come back, especially taking VR into account, but there needs to be a modern JAMMA equivalent to let operators swap failing titles out quickly enough to allow for growth. Not to say the games shown above aren’t awesome (I don’t know either way) but arcades as those of us 40 plus remember probably aren’t coming back any time soon.

    Like

  6. TomTom says:

    What a show! I would love to have one of this kind next to where I live!

    Is it opened to public ou do you have to pretend to be in the arcade business (or a journalist) to attend this show?

    However, thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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