Endgame – May 2024


Impressions of Amusement Expo 2024

Adam Pratt

by Adam Pratt, Arcade Galactic & ArcadeHeroes.com

Another spring has sprung and with that, another Amusement Expo has passed. How did the show go? Let me share a few thoughts.

As a reporter on the video arcade industry, I try to attend at least two shows a year – Amusement Expo and IAAPA. Often, there isn’t a huge difference between them. IAAPA gives us a taste of what is to come the next year and AEI shows us the final, polished versions of those same games. I can remember a time or two when Amuse­ment Expo had only a couple of brand-new products that hadn’t already been seen at IAAPA. Because of that, if Las Vegas wasn’t so relatively close to home, it might be tempting to skip it.

Marvel Contest of Champions

Marvel: Contest of Champions made a suprise appearance at the show. The Raw Thrills card-vending game was first available for Dave & Buster’s locations but is now available industry-wide.

This year was a little different, even compared to 2023. There was more energy, more people, and more products. Because of all that (especially since I chat everyone’s ear off on the first day of these shows), I’m glad I stayed for the two days. It also gave me the chance to play something I might have missed, or not have spent enough time with, at IAAPA.

Attendance was great and I was able to connect with a few people that I had only met previously online. It’s fun to not only meet old friends, but also to make new ones.

Quite a few companies had new games that grabbed attention, including the unexpected appearance of a 2-player Minecraft Dungeons Arcade and Marvel: Contest of Champions over at the Raw Thrills booth. If I didn’t already have the 4-player model, the Minecraft game would be on my radar for certain. The Marvel game isn’t exactly new – it was a Dave & Buster’s exclusive from 2019 until now. I’ve never had anyone call in asking if we had the game, like they did with Injustice Arcade, but perhaps the same excitement that surrounds the Injustice cards will start to bleed over once people see the game out there.

Another card-based surprise was Animal Kaiser Plus by Bandai Namco. At first, I overlooked it, but thankfully both Nate Nissen and Frank Cosentino drew my attention to it. Mainly popular in Japan and the U.K., this is a card collecting game for kids where they scan in cards of animals then have them battle it out as a simplified fighting game. No, the graphics won’t blow anyone away, but kids don’t care about that, so long as the game is in 3D and it’s colorful. This one is definitely on my radar.

Amusement Source International - Thunder Strike

Thunder Strike from Amusement Source International is a mounted gun shooter with cards that let players zap new gun types into gameplay.

If there is any indication that we’ve entered into the “Age of the Card Game,” it’s that Amusement Source International also debuted a game with the feature, a mounted gun shooter called Thunder Attack (see photo on previous page). This wasn’t at IAAPA and hadn’t been mentioned by ASI previously. It combines a great-looking cabinet with the card feature to zap new gun types into the game. Will people collect cards when there’s no license to them? This game will show us. One nice thing is the operator can recycle the cards back into the game if the user doesn’t take them. This also has a crazy price that’s under $9,000. I’m used to games of its size costing twice that or more.


Alan-1 had their Avian Knights in their booth, as well as 2- and 4-pl. versions of Atari Recharged Asteroids.

A short time before the show, Alan-1 announced that they’d inked a deal to bring the “Atari Recharged” series of games to the arcade. These are reboots of Atari’s various classics – Asteroids, Centipede, Berzerk, Yars Revenge and several others – that have been released to consoles as $10 games over the past few years. Fine as they are for $10 games, they’re the sort of thing that needs a lot of work to become “arcade-ready.” It would seem that the developers never played most of them on original arcade cabinets. However, Alan-1 has and they are working towards converting these into proper coin-op-style titles.

The first (and presently only) game they’ve announced thus far as making the arcade jump is Asteroids. They received the game code only six weeks prior to the show, and I have to commend them on what they’ve accomplished so far. Not only did they have a working game in a cabinet at Expo, they also changed the software enough already that I prefer their version over what’s on console.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Alan-1, you can be forgiven. They debuted at AEI23 with their Joust-like game Avian Knights. Due to manufacturing issues, that game has yet to see a release, but it should be landing very soon, as those issues have been resolved. There was a feature story about the company in the April issue of RePlay (starting on page 61) and they also advertised in that same edition (page 10).

Of course, remakes of games that haven’t been in the public eye for a while are a bit of a minefield to navigate. I’ve seen some Gen Xers get excited about the announcement, whereas others aren’t happy with anything other than a 1:1 remake of the original. The problem with the latter is that they wouldn’t earn at all in today’s market, outside a couple of game museums and retrocades. Just try to explain the economics of the modern industry to someone who won’t accept anything less than what they played as a kid. It’s futile!

I’ll have the game at my arcade for testing sometime soon, so we’ll see how it does with a modern audience that might not even know what Atari is.

Omen of Sorrow - Arising Chaos

Among the new titles for exA-Arcadia was Omen of Sorrow – Arising Chaos, which is coming soon. They had several of their low-cost ARC-1 cabinets at their booth.

Elsewhere at the show, exA-Arcadia showed new games for their system. With several of their low-cost ARC-1 cabinets in their booth, I was able to play several titles that are coming soon, including the very slick-looking fighter Omen of Sorrow: Arising Chaos and Jitsu Squad Featuring The Samurai Pizza Cats. They also gave me a peek at games that are a little ways out from a release, like Fixeight Exa Label (a reboot of Toaplan’s soldier shooting game from the early ’90s) and Day­break Slam, another 3D fighter.

Now that I have three exA cabinets, including one ARC-1, it’s great to see not just content for the platform but great content coming our way that won’t break the bank.

Endgame image - Godzilla 0524

Raw Thrills’ Godzilla Wars VR “has landed at the perfect time,” says Adam Pratt. The latest movie Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire hit theaters in late March.

Elsewhere on the floor, I saw plenty of games I’d grab if I had the funds, but alas, I’m still not out of those debtor woods yet. JET Games’ Mega Shot is still mighty impressive and has the coolest light-gun I’ve ever used; Raw Thrills’ Godzilla Kaiju Wars VR has landed at the perfect time, Inowize’s QBIX is presenting a great alternative to “wearable tech reality,” and Sega’s Apex Rebels has a strong ’90s arcade racer vibe to it. I imagine my customers would enjoy any one of them, but they are well outside of my budget.

LAI Games Smash

LAI Games Smash

There’s also pinball, represented by Stern Pinball and American Pinball. Stern was showing off JAWS, while American was showcasing their newly released Barry O’s Barbe­cue Challenge. Both games are fun, although I’d give the edge to JAWS. Perhaps I would do a trade for JAWS, although I haven’t been jumping on that idea yet.

I do hope that by the time IAAPA 2024 rolls around, we’ll see some pricing come down…or at least more cabinet options. I long for the days when we had Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe cabinets launching around the same time. I’m sure there are good economic reasons why we don’t see that too often now. Sadly, nothing indicates that inflation is going to vaporize anytime soon to help either.

Fortunately, our industry seems to be trending in a good direction, despite any economic headwinds. From a few chats I had, it sounded like other operators were seeing some very strong business as of late, although it has been mixed for me. It’s been bumpy for a while now and things can always turn on a dime, depending upon world events. As long as we keep our chins up and looking forward, we’ll be fine.


Adam Pratt is the owner and operator of Arcade Galactic near Salt Lake City, Utah, and also publishes the Arcade Heroes blog site. He can be reached at [email protected].





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