Tokyo arcade game lineup

Sammy, Tecmo, Namco, Sega and others take the wraps off a slew of new titles. Full AMShow report here.

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TOKYO--A number of new arcade game titles have been revealed at the Amusement Machine Show (AMShow), a commercial trade show centered for arcade operators and distributors.

Sammy
The biggest news at Sammy's booth was the announcement of SNK Playmore joining on as third party developer of a new King of Fighters game (using its Atomiswave arcade system) and the collaboration project between it and Capcom to jointly develop a new title, tentatively called Sammy vs. Capcom. (See our coverage of that announcement.)

In addition to these two major announcements, Sammy was heavily promoting its new Atomiswave arcade system. All games at its booth were operating on the platform.

Sammy had its upcoming, four-player compatible Guilty Gear game on display (now officially titled Guilty Gear Isuka). All characters from Guilty Gear XX have been confirmed to be in the game. However, beta tests, which have taken place over the past month in various arcades, have only sported half of the compete character set in playable form. This may not be significant as the game is only 50 percent complete.

An English version of Guilty Gear Isuka was also on display at the show, suggesting that the game is already being primed for international distribution.

Along with all the other games displayed for the Atomiswave system at its booth, Guilty Gear Isuka will be taking advantage of the AW-NET system (a network service similar in concept to Sega's VF.Net System) that allows players to receive additional capabilities and bonuses, such as the ability to compete in the national score ranking, playing characters with special colors, and receiving wallpapers for cell phones. A card can be purchased and inserted into a slot in the Atomiswave cabinet to save items, or players can use data from the AW-NET system in other AW-compliant games.

Aside from Guilty Gear Isuka, a new 3D fighter game named Force Five was revealed at the show. While Force Five plays with the standard controls of a conventional 3D fighter, the structure of the game's battle rounds are fundamentally different. Each round in Force Five consists of a short 20 second bout, and a single combination can deplete nearly all of the opponent's life, at times. However, the game doesn't feel too short, time-wise, since each stage consists of 5 rounds.

Taiwan-based third-party developer IGS will be releasing a side-scrolling action game on the Atomiswave named "Knights of Valour: The Seven Spirits." Knights of Valour is based on the Chinese story of the Three Kingdoms and features Asian-style graphics. As it is being released on the Atomiswave system, the graphics are considerably more detailed and colorful than IGS's previous action game, Road of the Sword.

Similar to Guilty Gear Isuka, Knights of Valour was on display in both Japanese and English.

Taito
Taito had a number of new titles scheduled for arcade release on display. Genres included shooters and fighters. The biggest news at Taito's booth was the announcement of "Zoid Infinity," a 3D battle game based on toy maker Tomy's Zoid series.

The player will sit in a cockpit, as the driver of a Zoid, and battle against multiple enemies by shooting both missiles and lasers at them. The player can ride on an original Zoid by recording parts and configurations onto an IC card, via the screen on the card dispenser machine, and then inserting the card into the Zoid cabinet when playing the game.

The IC card system is similar to what is used in Taito's Battle Gear racing game, currently in distribution throughout Japan.

The sequel to the popular shooter Psyvariar, Psyvariar 2 was displayed at Taito's booth as well. Running on the Sega Naomi board, Psyvariar 2 still keeps its Buzz system, where the player's ship levels up by purposely dodging the enemy's shots at the very rim of the ship. Psyvariar 2 has a number of changes, however. The ship is now a mech robot and can be chosen from two different types. The ship's level does not rise until the stage is cleared. The rolling system now allows the ship to stay rolling until the joystick is set to neutral position.

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Space Invaders, Taito will be releasing a game named Space Invaders Anniversary which will consist of a number of different Space Invader versions, such as monochrome, cellophane colored, and 3D modes. The game will run on Taito's G-NET board.

Taito also had Exeus and Dark Awake on display. Exeus is 3D game that plays similarly to Space Harrier, with a button to shoot missiles, the ability to target enemies, and the ability to execute screen bombs.

Dark Awake is a fantasy style 2D fighter game developed by a Korean company, Eolith, and published by Taito. The graphics are distinctly different from traditional fighters, as the characters seem to be somewhat influenced by The Lord of the Rings and the art style that complements it.

The selection of characters includes an archer, a warrior, and a mage. Races include elves, trolls, and orcs. The game system adopts the striker system from SNK's King of Fighters 2000 but with a bit of a new arrangement. At the beginning of each stage in Dark Awake, the player can select a character to be his playable character. The player can replace them with an item, such as a healing potion or an invisible cloak. Items have many uses and can be used multiple times in a round. If the characters are not replaced by items, they can be called out to assist the player.

Also unique to Dark Awake is that characters on both the winner and loser's side rotate to the next fighter when a round ends.

Taito will also be publishing a puzzle game from developer Aiky named "Pocchitto Nyaa" which features falling pieces of blocks in the shape of cats and dogs that must be erased. The method of erasing the block pieces is to set them into a row and simply wait for a shining piece of the same color to come falling, but in order to receive a high score, the player must make branches extending out of each row. A higher score can be achieved when there are more branches extending out from a single row of blocks.

Sega
Sega's booth featured a number of driving games. The most popular game at Sega's booth was OutRun2, which had a large line of anxious gamers who often had to wait as long as one hour to play.

The game follows the tradition of the original Outrun. Stages flow seamlessly from the starting point of Palm Beach. Players were often seen drifting their vehicles and tumbling their cars into the air.

Sega was heavily promoting its new car machine cabinet, named the Cycraft. Having three axles for front and back, left and right, and vertical movements, Sega's Cycraft clearly moved more vigorously than other leading car cabinets in current release.

Sega's ClubKart and F-Zero AX will be housed in the Cycraft cabinet.

Gekitou Pro Yakyuu (which can be translated as "Fierce Fight Baseball") was on display. The baseball game is based on a library of classic mangas by artist Shinji Mizushima, and complements his art style with the effective use of cell style rendering. The game has been developed for the Triforce platform.

The arcade version of Puyo Puyo Fever was on display at Sega's booth also. Puyo Puyo Fever completely replaces the old mascot characters in the series (except for the yellow, long-eared Carbuncle). The graphics of the blobs have been given further detail in the game, and the puyo pieces now feel more like jelly than before.

While the numbers of falling blobs have been traditionally set as two per fall, it ranges between two to four blobs in Puyo Puyo Fever. Also added as a new feature to the game system, the player can stock up on a fever meter to go into a fever mode. Once in fever mode, a set of blobs that comes pre-aligned to be erased will appear on the screen, allowing both beginners and experts to execute major combos.

Sega also had a sample of a Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution cabinet that is operated through the use of a prepaid money card, which seems to be one of the new trends in the arcade industry.

Namco
Namco had four titles on display: Tokyo Cop, Dragon Chronicle, Taiko no Tatsujin 5, and Counter-Strike Neo.

Tokyo Cop is a car game where the player must drive into a criminal's car and keep banging into them until they can be caught. By gaining a good rank, the player will be able to choose additional cars. There is a small keyboard panel on the game machine which can be used to create an ID and password to retain player's data within the machine.

Dragon Chronicle is a dragon taming game where the player starts out by creating a dragon from the six natural elements. By putting the dragon through various training exercises and acquiring new skills, the dragon can battle with dragons of other players. A card will be dispensed from the arcade machine at the end of each game. Cards come with an illustration of the player's dragon. The player can continue playing at any time again by using the card, and the card's illustration will change as the dragon gets stronger.

Taiko no Tatsujin 5 is the latest release in Namco's Japanese drumming game series. Players can drum to the tune of a variety of J-Pop, game music, and even classical tunes (such as Beethoven's Symphony No.5). For the first time in the series, the game will allow players to choose whatever songs they like, and it lets them decide a difficulty level as well.

Counter-Strike Neo is the custom made edition of Counter Strike, which currently runs in only one LAN entertainment facility named LED Zone in Japan. Namco had created a small version of the LED Zone in their booth--specially for this event.

Tecmo
Tecmo had a simple dartboard game and one new action game at its booth. Tentatively named Xero, the multi-player 3D action game will be the first arcade game that is actually connected to the Internet and allows networked, head-to-head competition with other competitors at distant arcades (as well as at a networked PC).

While the game was on display in arcade cabinets, only Tecmo staff was allowed to play (as the controls are not fully developed). Similar to other multiplayer games, Xero seems to have a player's lounge where gamers can set up a game and invite others in for a match--even from an arcade cabinet.

Xero is scheduled for release in the spring of 2004.

Capcom
Capcom had two titles on display at its booth. One was a 3D grappling game named Pride GP 2003, based on the Pride tournament battles and featuring fighters such as Kazushi Sakuraba, Ryan Gracie, and Wanderlei Silva.

The other was Kidou Senshi Gundam Z: AEUG Vs. Titans.

SNK Playmore
SNK Playmore did not have a booth of its own, but their Samurai Spirits Zero was on display at the show. The game is scheduled for release on September 25.

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