My boss came to me on Thursday and asked, “Do you like games?” Well, yes of course! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be interning in a game company like this! However, what he meant was that he was going to give me a ticket to the All Nippon Amusement Machine Operators’ Union Expo 2007, aka AOU 2007. I didn’t know what to expect, but gladly accepted his goodwill (or, perhaps, no one from the company wanted to go there anyway). What ensued was an enjoyable trip filled with the latest in the Japanese arcade gaming world.
The l33t invitation ticket.
AOU 2007 was held at Makuhari Messe, which I can describe as the Big Sight of Chiba Prefecture. The arena itself is surrounded by a neatly architected neighborhood of hotels, shops, and malls, just like Odaiba. The convention encompasses pretty much all kinds of coin-operated games including fighting games, shmups, pachiko, slot machines, UFO catchers etc.
The mascot cowboy character is called ゲーミー (reads gay-mee),
perhaps the name should be romanized as “Game.”
A shot into the arena.
Most of the gameson display were what they call “medal games” in which you get a bunch of chips, and your task is to insert them back into the machine in a timely manner to win more chips. The most impressive of this kind of games is perhaps Toami-gyo by Sega. In the game, you sit in front of a fish pond, and try to catch as many fish as possible. Inserting a chip into the machine triggers a projectile to be fired from a cannon (or rod?) like in Puzzle-Bubble. The orientation of the canon can be control by turning the green knob in the picture below. From time to time, the flat panel in the middle of the game will “slide out,” revealing another layer of the game table with a circular well in the middle. The graphics is colorful, and the game is not just inserting chips like other medal games. I really wouldn’t mind playing it.
Underneath the top-level flat panel.
There are also a number games with new interfaces.
Poka-Suka (Sega) Ghost is an onscreen whack-a-mole kind of a game with ghosts running around on the screen instead of moles. You can also use the controller to turn onscreen wheels by moving it in a circle.
- Too Spicy (Sega) is a deathmatch first-person shooting game in which you also use your foot to control how your character moves.
- Crazy Climber (can’t remember the company) is getting an arcade remake. The interface is kinda cool because it simulates the act of climbing.
- Namco-Bandai had a rope skipping game. The rope is simulated by a bunch of LEDs arranged in a vertical oval frame, and you are to avoid to light hitting your feet. The company didn’t allow people to take photos in their booth, so no pictures here.
On the side of shumps, I believe only three new games were on display. The biggest one was Otomedius, a Gradius clone with moe characters designed by Mine Yoshizaki of the Keroro Gunso fame. I only saw two stages: the first is beach/tropical island, and the second is ancient Egypt. Sadly, they didn’t allow people to take photos of the screens (shake fist at Konami), but you can watch a footage of the game here. I wonder how this guy could can take a 7-minute video before a staff came to tell him to stop. -_-‘
Cave showedMuchi-muchi Pork, a vertical shooter also with moe characters. The girls are conspicuously well-endowed because they are, well, pigs. (Well, they have a loli pig as well.) Didn’t want to wait in line to play it, so I can’t tell how good the game is.
Sega brought Shooting Club 2007, a variety shooter in which you are given different objectives such as “dodge all bullets,” “protect the earth,”
“collect all red jewels,” etc. in different missions. Thinking about it, I guess it can be a nice way to kill time.
Shooting Club 2007: Collect-all-red-jewels mission.
Sega held a Virtua Fighter 5 competition, and Namco-Bandai showed promotion videos for Tekken 6, but I was not interested. Taito held a big
promotion campaign for the upcoming Battle Fantasia, a fantasy-themed fighter with 3D characters and scene but 2D movement. The game itself has little innovation to offer in terms of game play, but the character design and the graphics looks really nice.
Battle Fantasia: Coyori vs. Freed.
A number of quiz games like Sega’s An-x-An and Konami’s Quiz Magic Academy were on display. Konami also showed DDR Supernova 2, and new versions of Guitar Freaks, Beatmania, and Pop-n-Music. There was a large section of the event devoted to plushies of cute characters like Hello Kitty, Teddy Bear, etc, which I guess are used in UFO catcher machines.
Blue Kitty… Perhaps they come from outer space…
All in all, it was a fun day although it would be a lot more fun if I decided to wait in the long line to try my hands on some of the new games. I was not much into arcade games myself, but this event sure got me interested.
By the way, pictures I took are available at http://picasaweb.google.com/dragonmeteor/AOU2007. Please do not use them without my permission.