Fighting games rough up Japanese arcade conference

Street Fighter IV, KOFXII, Blazblue, Arcana Heart 2, and a handful of other brawlers make waves at this year's Amusement Machine Operators' Union show.

The annual Amusement Machine Operators' Union show in Japan is a dealer-oriented event that gives a sneak preview of arcade games coming out in the near future. For the past few years, video games at the AOU were mostly networked table games, such as mahjong and card battles. This year, though, fighting games stormed center stage at the event. Nearly 10 titles were shown at the AOU, and it seems that 2008 will definitely see the genre well-represented in Japanese arcades.

The biggest crowd at this year's AOU show was at Capcom's booth. The company announced earlier in the month that it will have Street Fighter IV playable at the show, and it delivered on that promise with all the known characters being on offer. SNK Playmore's King of Fighters XII was also in hand in teaser trailer form. Unlike SFIV, KOFXII will stick to its old roots and continue to play with 2D graphics, albeit completely redrawn in high resolution. KOFXII is slated for release in 2008.

Arc System Works introduced a new fighter titled Blazblue. The game takes place in a futuristic sci-fi atmosphere, and the characters are drawn in cel-shaded 2D art, albeit with high-resolution graphics. Some parts of the game's background, such as spectators, are drawn in 2D, while other parts, such as statues and marble tiled floors, are drawn in 3D. Blazblue is slated for a November release in Japan.

Arcana Heart 2, developed by Examu, also made its first public appearance at AOU 2008. Similar to its previous installation, all the characters in the game are female. Six new characters are introduced in Arcana Heart 2--Petra, Catherine, Zenia, Dorothy, Elsa, and Clarice--and they were all playable. The game is slated for release in March in Japan.

Also on hand was the male-character-dominated Sengou Basara X from Capcom. Developed by Arc System Works, the game plays in Guilty Gear X-style 2D graphics and features the heroes from the Sengoku Basara series: Date Masamune, Sanada Yukimura, Maeda Keiji, Chosokabe Motochika, Mouri Motonari, Uesugi Kenshin, Oichi, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tadakatsu Honda. Sengoku Basara X is slated for a spring release in Japan.

In terms of sword-slashing games, SNK Playmore also showed off its next installment in the Samurai Spirits (aka Samurai Shodown) series. Samurai Spirits Sen is a 3D-fighting game that has dropped the traditional 2D formula in favor of a system similar to Namco Bandai's Soul Calibur series. Samurai Spirits Sen has more realistic graphics than any previous entry in the Samurai Shodown series and some moves were taken out or toned down to seem less implausible. Characters still have their trademark moves, though: Charlotte has her power gradation and Hanzo has his Mozu Otoshi throw. But the game seems to be based more on chain combo attacks, and it plays quite differently from previous installments.

Half of Samurai Shodown Sen's roster is returning characters, while the other half is totally new. Returning characters include Haohmaru, Genjuro, Ukyo, Nakoruru, Rimururu, Hanzo, Galford, Charlotte, Kyoshiro, Wanfu, Kazuki, and Sougetsu. The new characters include Suzuhime, Chiyo, Jinbei, J, Angelica, Kim, Black Hawk, Gallows, Walther, Killian, and Claude. Samurai Shodown Sen is slated for an April 17 release in Japan.

SNK Playmore used its AOU presentation to announce it was rereleasing a decade-old title. The King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match was originally planned for a PlayStation 2 release but is now coming out for arcades on March 18. The game is fundamentally an updated version of KOF98 with additional characters and enhancements. The game features a total of 59 characters, including Eiji Kisaragi, Kasumi Todo, Mr. Big, Wolfgang Krauser, King, Blue Mary, Yamazaki, and Geese Howard. While most are from the original game, some additional moves have been added, especially for the previously existing alternate characters so that they'll play differently from their normal versions.

Capcom also had a fighting game based on Type Moon characters. Fate: Unlimited Codes is a 3D game that plays with 2D mechanics, similar to Street Fighter IV. The characters are versatile, ranging from an average-looking kid in a shirt, a long-haired lady in bondage, and a fighter in shiny golden armor. The controls are relatively standard; three buttons are used for attacks of different strengths, and there's a fourth button for deflecting attacks. As an interesting addition, the game features a move that's more powerful than a super attack. The catch is that only one person can do it per round, meaning if the opponent does it first, the other player won't be able to pull it off. Fate: Unlimited Codes is slated for a June release in Japan.

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61 comments
gabor_sama
gabor_sama

I just want KoF XII, BlazBlue, Starcraft II and Diablo III to be happy ever after.

AtlanticRock
AtlanticRock

It's a good year to be a Fighting Game fan... can't wait for KOF '98 and KOF XII... Billy Kane & Geese on the same team!!!!

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

I'm waiting on SFIV, BlazBlue, Arcana Heart 2, both KOFs, Samurai Spirits Sen, Fate/Unlimited Codes, and Sengoku Basara X among others.

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

@WitteKraai Dude, Arcana Heart's BETTER than Guilty Gear. Seriously!

WitteKraai
WitteKraai

I'm waiting on BlazBlue and SF4. Arcana Heart is pretty good, but not as good as Guilty Gear IMO, which is why I'm hoping for a 360 release of BB. If there's no release on the 360, I might have to break down and get a PS3, finally.

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

Shooters are no more! Since Arcana Heart the Fighting genre has gone from #3 to #1. It used to be Light Gun games were #2 and RPGS were at the top. But not anymore. Shooters never surpassed brawlers. Never have, never will. Fighters always surpassed your FPS. So did LGS and RPGs. All of them still do. Now, let's motivate NIS to use the fighting genre to innovate as well as what they do with JRPGs. Innovate. We'll send them requests to localize Melty Blood and Rumble Fish. Yup. That would ROCK!

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

This is my fourth comment in a row on this article but... I'M GONNA BE TICKED IF NOT ALL OF THESE ARE RELEASED OUT HERE!!!

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

Street Fighter IV should be released in US arcades as well as in japanese ones. There's no reason we should wait for an arcade port while the japanese are spending small coins to have fun.

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

Shooters will never surpass fighting games and these games are the reasons why!

linkedtoyourass
linkedtoyourass

I agree with "WicthBalder" I would like to know if the're coming to the US also, I belive the question should have been asked in the interview. :(

AtlanticRock
AtlanticRock

There is a God. King of F-cking Fighters 12. Thank you!!!! King of Fighters 98, 10 year anniversary, FEATURING EIJI!!!!!.... Finally I can create my Iori revenge team with my favorite characters: Billy Kane, Eiji Kisagari, and Vice.

kazya_mishima
kazya_mishima

KOF XII is gonna rock, I hope Takuma, Leona, and Yamazaki are in it, also leave in Duck King!!!!

Reaper1117
Reaper1117

Sweet, the fighting genre need more good games Now I like to take some time out to say something. Since when has a fighter been ground breaking. Mortal Kombat added blood, Soul Caliber the 8-way run. That's as much as I can think of, nothing but a few features to make people say it's the best game ever. same with shooters, same with action games, sadly our point of originality is a decent but different story, mixed with new features which will become standards, and thats it.

SMGrawks
SMGrawks

Well I want to know about the other arcade games mentioned in the article too. Where are their videos?

WicthBalder
WicthBalder

Now if only we knew if all the games would arrive in North America.

CaptValor333
CaptValor333

Cool lots of good fighting games announced. Its good to see they're making a comeback.

wiidominance
wiidominance

As long as the fighters are well drawn and animated, I am in. The fighting genre is one that needs to stay strong to give meaning to video games.

angelGP32
angelGP32

well if the new KOF 98 would get an MVS release, that would be sweet as I have a 4 slot in my basement.

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

Can we please get a high-resolution (I'm talking full HD) 2D King of Fighters. And please none of that pseudo 2D/3D thing Capcom is doing with Street Fighter IV.

diablobasher
diablobasher

2d fighting games are so much better than 3d ones. The only 3d fighter worth playing is Soul Calibur. High resolution 2d sprites have the potential to look amazing, but hardly anyone is prepared to go that route these days and thats very sad.

ss_goku26_2003
ss_goku26_2003

One thing is certain is that fighting games are gonna be 3-D and I am sure that there is alot more free roam ability in that, but true fighting games are better in 2-D. Look at Mortal Kombat the first time they went 3-D it was pretty horrible now all I have to say is that it is o.k. except for the last one complete TRASH Armagedon was complete crap no true fatalities. I am a hardcore fighting gamer and I am not too excitied about Street Fighter 4 going all 3-D ish looking, cause if capcom screws up I am gonna have to learn how to play King of fighters alot better.

glitchgeeman
glitchgeeman

Nice, the fighting genre may never return to its full glory, but it's great news to hear a lot of devs bringing the classics back in new and (hopefully) better forms.

foeleaf
foeleaf

please Naruto ps3 project.

DrKill09
DrKill09

KOF ****ing RULES! I hope the Samurai Shodown series makes it to XBLA one day, too.

ss_goku26_2003
ss_goku26_2003

About the only FPS game I liked was Metriod Prime but I still like the 2-D versions better, Halo 3 played 5 minutes of it, it just reminded me of Halo 1&2. I just hope that they NEVER and I mean EVVVVEEEEERRRRR make a FPF game FPF-First Person Fighting, Now that would really suck.

teknicz
teknicz

Agreed, it's the FPS genre that should die. It's way overhyped for what is essentially the same gamplay over and over again, ad naseum. They gussy up some shiny new graphics and throw in a simple game mechanic or two and suddenly it's ground breaking? Please.

ss_goku26_2003
ss_goku26_2003

One thing I hate is people saying that fighting games should die, these are the people that do not know a thing about hardcore gaming. These people pretty much only love FPS games now thatis one type of game that should die. Bring back fighting games and arcades.

X-RS
X-RS

@donut trooper: go play deus ex. @console-deity: thats cuz it takes 30 seconds to WATCH the same attack over and over. im really excited about kof and samurai shodown. blazblue sounds quite interesting. still for street fighter 4 im not really pumped. guess its just cuz the characters dont look the same.

Orasion_Seiz
Orasion_Seiz

what no GG AC +? Oh well atleast Arc System's Blazble will make an appearance.

LOGGER13
LOGGER13

I could really use a Marvel versus Capcom game for next gen consoles. I love the original on PS2 ... or was it PS1? It seems so long ago ...

AlexLJ
AlexLJ

huh...I'm not sure what to think about the samurai showdown change, but other than that I'm looking foward to the fighting genre to make a comeback.

living_wmd_888
living_wmd_888

Fighting games are my favorite multiplayer genre. I just wish there were still good arcades in the US though. The nearest arcade to me is 20 miles away, and it is dying.

vgxtremist
vgxtremist

wOOt for SFIV, KOF 98 and XII...I want to see Samurai Shodown Collection in the US for the PS2 as well. :)

Steven_Beynon
Steven_Beynon

I do have to argue, fighting games are not "dead", but you all have to admit, they arnt as viable as they once were.

E3BigC
E3BigC

I don't know why all of you think fighting games have been dead for awhile. Sega has pretty much perfected the fighting game with Virtua Fighter 5, it's just too bad it has no marketing surrounding it and isn't a household name like Tekken or Street Fighter.

Sumotaii
Sumotaii

Fighting games never disappeared dude, its just the media and silly gamers choose to buy into whats "in". People still play 2d fighters, people still play Jrpgs and people still play StarCraft on bnet haha. Not everyone needs to shell out 50 bucks a year to play online to play Halo 3 aka Halo 1 in hi def and Gears of War aka not very good. Sorry but 2d fighters still own the crap you buy today. With 2d fighters back, all we need now is SeGa. Real Sega.

Homeboy609
Homeboy609

Fighting games are making a comeback. :)

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Woot! A barrage of fighters announced.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

Oh how a girl loves her fight games (Tekken fangirl, shoutout, LOL)....guess it's the violent chick side of me. :D (j/k) @ AZisBack Actually Tekken 6 was featured in last year's AOU--it's already been in the arcades over there (between upgrades, beta testing, and other various tweaks) for about a year now. So they probably ain't gonna touch on again this year--the AOU is just for the up-and-coming arcade games for that year (i.e. 2008 ). Hell, if you wanna see some Tekken 6 arcade footage, check out YouTube and a site called sdtekken.com--they're always up on the lastest Tekken news and they got loads of arcade footage T6 arcade players all over the world (from JP to Australia).

zolloz89
zolloz89

I am glad that 2D style fighters still exist. With SF4, all I have to wait for is Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.

mitu123
mitu123

What's with the haters, I grew up playing fighting games, Street Fighter 2 was the 1st fighting game I played. They require more strategy than you would think. All these fighting games that are coming out sounds great, plus they(fighting games) are as competitive as FPSs.

thekey
thekey

dynomitemasta "I wish this genre would just go away, if these were the only games out on the market. I would stop playing like yesterday." I wish 2D fighters would go away.

console-deity
console-deity

I never liked fighting games, too simplistic. Now turn-based strategies are where it's at, I've lost thousands of hours of my life to them.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

Fighting is the best competitive genre hands down.