The 63rd Amusement Trade Exhibition International (ATEI) was one of the most eagerly anticipated and discussed in recent years. A barometer of the industry health. The London show had a hard act to follow, let alone the impact of its sibling show, the International Casino Exhibition (ICE), with the smaller International Casino Exhibition Online (ICEi) component.
Konami Digital Entertainment Europe
The driver 'Crazy Streets: Thrilldrive' (PC Hardware) added its name to the long roll call of driving titles scheduled for this year. The networked street racer (linkable 4 player units) build on the previous Thrill Drive heritage but now include more vehicles for the players to choose from and power-ups on the courses. The EU release will differ from the Asian version as there will be no seat-belt ‘tensioner', but the game still looked popular although it has some stiff competition this year.
SEGA Amusement Europe
The booth presented a heady mix of promotion and showmanship. The big presentation was ‘OutRun 2 Special Attraction' (LindBergh) - the support of an excellent commentary from the booth girls drew riders to the game (in fact, this game even drew visitors from downstairs, achieving the much-promised flow to the new location). The eight-player, motion seat racer, based on the original OR2 game, but now with dual driving (swapping during the game) offered a perfect replacement to the well-loved Daytona USA Special – and suggests that now it is finally time for operators to move on up. The popularity of the big cabinet was a testament to the Big Box development plan for the company – also represented by ‘House of the Dead 4 Special' on the booth drawing crowds.
The Namco / Brent booth represented a major appearance for the conjoined operation. Of the 31 pieces on display, 14 games were making their first appearance to the UK market, five of which are world debuts. Under new management the operation is going all-out to establish a presence against intense competition in a shrinking climate.
Of the sparse new video from Namco on their booth the big title was ‘Mario Kart: Arcade GP 2' (TriForce). The sequel to the limited release of the original version offered players new courses and enhanced weapons features. The game was heavily played during the event, and found a love-hate reaction from players. The product showed its credentials of the future of BNG style games. The product with its vending smart card system and the support of the big brand name Nintendo is sure to reap great publicity.
The UK distributor flooded the booth with the usual mix of third -arty products. The major showing was seen at last year's show, with Betson / Raw Thrills / Play Mechanix presenting ‘The Fast and the Furious – Super Bikes' (PC Hardware) and ‘Big Buck Pro' (PC Hardware). The success that Betson has seen with the Super Bikes title in the European market proving the importance of international positioning of the game.
Another developer making the move to the international circuit was IMOtion, with their
‘IGO - Panzer Elite Action' (PC Hardware) making its first appearance at ATEI. The 2.5 degree motion platform experience offers a cost-effective package for the operations market. The game still at a 90% complete level, our correspondent played it to completion and stated that it would still need more than 10% to bring it to final arcade standard. Gameplay is missing serious components -- beyond just the simple tank, level and difficulty setting – that were promised to have been completed by IAAPA. The game system however offers a compelling and entertainment package – cheaper than any other system, seeing main competition for SEGA's Afterburner and TrioTech MadWave.
‘Chase H.Q. 2' (TypeX) is the third sequel to the original 1988 super-success (trade sources seemed to have forgotten the first 1989 sequel ‘Special Criminal Investigation' and the 1992 ‘Super Chase – Criminal Termination', while not forgetting the quiz-based franchise ‘Quiz H.Q.') The game had been placed on test for a few weeks before ATEI at a prominent London location, and proved interesting returns. The cell shaded graphic style making a distinctive game based on the usual format, though still a compelling experience.
ATEI saw the launch of the deluxe version of ‘ALIENS – Extermination' (PC Hardware), the game offering big-screen presentation to the Play Mechanix / GVR developed title based on the Aliens franchise. However the big new release at the ATEI show was ‘Far Cry: Paradise Lost' (PC Hardware). Based on the popular consumer first-person shooter, the game uses a unique twin machine gun blasting action layout. The 80% completed game showed a mixture of jungle and building blasting action, based around the familiar elements of the original concept.
The other big appearance at the show was the completed ‘UltraPin' (PC Hardware), which had been previewed last year. The completed system has seen modification to the package with the original 12 loaded games scaled down to six; the system proved highly interesting to show attendees. Also on booth was the deluxe motion version of ‘Need for Speed Underground' (PC Hardware).
The touchscreen market seemed to be dominated upstairs at ATEI by FunWorld AG and their PhotoPlay range. The company used the amusement event to launch the Pro Generation of system, with the Power Cube Pro architecture supplying 3x faster than the Xtreme range performance. The booth had a wide selection of new systems including the ‘Photo Play Pro' (Power Cube Pro) upright terminal, ‘Photo Play Sprinter Pro' (Power Cube Pro) kiosk, and ‘Photo Play Sportster Pro' (Power Cube Pro) adjustable terminal system.