Happy Birthday, Chexx!
ICE Celebrates Flagship Hockey Game’s 35th B-Day With New Model
Chexx. It’s the game that started it all for Innovative Concepts in Entertainment. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based redemption game powerhouse, which has become known simply as “ICE,” began 35 years ago in a garage with the simple idea of building a coin-op hockey game. Today, ICE’s “baby” has sure grown up and so has the company that built it, and to celebrate, they’re introducing Super Chexx Pro.
ICE President Ralph Coppola stated that he’s excited to be launching the new version of the seminal game. “This is truly a milestone for our company. When I think about this game, it gives me great pleasure to look back on the run of over 30,000 bubble hockeys sold and this amazing journey that started in a garage with this crazy concept for a coin-operated hockey game!”
Back in 1982, Coppola debuted the original Chexx at the AMOA show in Chicago, highlighting the game’s indestructible dome. To Ralph’s credit and forward-thinking approach, today’s model still has many of the original’s nuances and features like the “boo button,” all of which have been enhanced with additions worthy of the “innovative” part of the company name.
Super Chexx Pro, an update of the long-running Super Chexx “sequel,” has been in the works for some time. The goal was to modernize the classic game without actually changing the play. For one of its most impressive features, ICE worked with long-time partner PlayMechanix to develop the video component of the new jumbotron. (You’ll find it underneath the dome, center rink, just as it would be in a real hockey arena.)
The jumbotron is really the most significant addition to the new game with its 5’’ LCD panels, says the factory. The jumbotron not only houses the score, but also features live game animation. In addition, the video board adds to the game by providing a real-time digital clock with adjustable period lengths. (By the way, this state-of-the-art electronics platform has now been brought in-house, using all brand-new technology designed and manufactured at ICE.)
Dan Coppola of ICE’s sales and marketing commented, “As always, the Play Mechanix team did a fantastic job bringing the bubble boy players to life and added a great dynamic to the videos on the jumbotron! It’s actually my favorite part of the new game.”
Another new feature of Super Chexx Pro is LED lighting that illuminates the playing surface with brighter white light. ICE says this has allowed them to provide an exceptional presentation of the national anthems prior to face-off as well as during goal celebrations. Moreover, the game now has a red goal light that goes off when scoring and a green light that signifies the change of periods (both occur under each goal). These are “subtle, but very cool, features” of the new game, advises Dan.
“We also made some great improvements especially regarding the audio and video aspect of the game,” he added. “While doing all of this, we feel we’ve kept the overall integrity of the game and game play well intact.”
From an audio standpoint, legendary NHL broadcaster Rick Jeanneret has many more sound bites and recorded game calls included in the new Super Chexx Pro. Also, in the NHL version, the home team’s goal horns now simulate that franchise’s actual home arena sound.
ICE says it continues to offer multiple versions of the hockey game to meet customers’ needs –– that “something for everyone” goal –– whether it’s a standard unit, NHL team model, or Miracle on Ice version. ICE also builds many other custom games for local youth and amateur teams, companies, universities, etc., all with permission granted from those entities.
As an example of their customization capabilities, ICE recently participated in the 11 Day Power Play this past summer in Buffalo, building two custom games for the event. The 11 Day Power Play consisted of 40 men playing hockey continuously for 11 straight days (breaking a Guinness world record), raised over $1 million for cancer research this past summer. For families and spectators who attended the event, the Super Chexx bubble hockey games provided some additional fanfare and excitement during the 11 days; the two custom games were auctioned off with the proceeds going to cancer research.
To the Game Room and Beyond
As the seasons turn in Western New York from picturesque fall weather to the freezing temperatures and lake effect snow that people associate with Buffalo, this time of year also signifies the ramp up for Super Chexx (now Pro!) production. Between the end of October through the holidays, ICE estimates they’ll produce some 2,000+ of the hockey units.
“That’s a staggering number in today’s day and age, especially since the game has been around since 1982,” Dan Coppola said.
Roughly a decade ago, ICE started offering Super Chexx directly to the end users, making it the company’s only such product. Today, the majority of Chexx sales are for home/personal use — whether it be in rec rooms, finished basements or “man caves.” Some are also being placed in office environments around the country, not only to build camaraderie, but to also provide a relief from the rigors of the workday, allowing employees to blow off steam in a friendly head-to-head competition.
Non-coin-op sales are spearheaded by ICE’s Aaron Petritz, who teamed with talented staff members Jen Draves and Shawna Bancroft to help launch this campaign many years ago, explained Dan. “They’ve done a tremendous job overseeing these sales every year, not to mention the production of the games, which falls under longtime ICE supervisor, Gary Ball.”
He proudly added, “As ICE continues to grow, many things in coin-op have changed and evolved. However, this original bubble hockey game that launched our company so many years ago continues to be played today.”
Ralph Coppola concluded, “There’s a lot of pride within our organization that continues to go into development and manufacturing. We’re not sure if one title or game defines a company and its legacy, but Chexx, Super Chexx and Super Chexx Pro are no doubt very special to the company and all of our employees, many of whom have been here through many years.”