Report: International Amusement Trade Show

As the UK mainstream gaming trade tries to stimulate interest in its own salon, another industry threw its big party in London in January 2008 – with some revealing for out-of-home gamers.

Over 60 years, the Amusement Trade Exhibition International (ATEI) is the shopping show for all operators of arcades (Amusement), cinemas, seaside resorts and tourist attractions. Although it is a shadow of itself when seen through the lens of its late ’80s heyday, video Amusement has always proven to be a popular pastime, with a basic loyal players, even fanatics.

ATEI’s show was divided into three activity areas, set in the cavernous arena of Earls Court: upstairs was the video Amusement et al; while below, gambling, slot machines, and the casino industry resided.

All the great Amusement players made the trip to what is called the “London Show”. The largest of the presences being SEGA Amusement – its video offerings were driven by an innovative but unusual system.

Stomper UFO uses the latest interactive projection system; players literally trample aliens in a Whack-a-Mole style video game on foot. A unique interactive floor system paired with dual projection provides 10 mini-games to battle. A fascinating and fun experience for young and old casual gamers, it is considered perfect for the installation of recreational facilities.

Innovation in coin-op continued with the launch of the first swivel gun game using a touchscreen. The Primitive hunting is a dinosaur blaster with big screen game hunting style. The game departs from the more mainstream ‘rail shooter’ genre with a second touchscreen that players use to navigate their way through the various levels. Wielding a big pump pistol, aiming and avoiding the rampaging dinosaurs turns out to be an intense arcade experience – the arcade scene comes closest to an FPS style concept.

The more conventional arcade genres were represented by a new pilot called SEGA RaceTV, a crazy, one-runner freestyle ride with awe-inspiring American themed visuals and high pitched announcers. It was a game that felt like a driving version of F-Zero. Increasing the collection and damage of the car means for a fast paced network racer. Although a bit thin on the single player experience, this is a game that is only intended for the arcade show.

The London Show is used as a testing ground for many styles of products. SEGA presented its latest brawler: Virtua Warrior 5 directly from Japan. It is the latest addition to the series and offers a high level 3D fighter for purists. But, when traveling to UK, the arcade machine was reduced; Has the built-in smart card function and online tournament support used in Japanese arcades been removed to accommodate UK operators? expectations.

ATEI players, however, have called for the changes this year, and a market, ridiculed as dead by some media, has shown strong signs of life that has caused some manufacturers to rethink their market strategy.

One of those operations was Namco Bandai, who made the bold decision to show off a hot production prototype from Japan of Tekken 6. The machine, previously revealed as an early arcade release by a previous SPOnG feature, has been besieged by dozens of enthusiasts Tekken-fans, the system literally overwhelmed hardcore gamers for the duration of the show. Namco, frustrated, tried to limit the play, by disabling the normal free play of the exhibition, but this did little to dampen the interest. Like with Virtua Warrior 5, the arcade version will appear before the releases offered on Xbox 360 and PS3 (as we will also see with Street Fighter IV).

Representing a new way of thinking about fun, the Namco T6 is the first high-definition amusement machine, featuring the latest screen technology and incorporating the use of an integrated circuit (IC) card reader character system. How more conventional amusement operators will swallow the expected high price tag for this PS3-advance-powered coin unit is to be seen.

The use of new flat screens and a sleek cabinet design has been an important part of ATEI’s interest. Major US maker Global VR had its own suite of licensed consumer content recreated for the Amusement app.

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