The exA-Arcadia System
Expo Offers Reunion with Friends & a Look at New Games
by Adam Pratt, Arcade Galactic & ArcadeHeroes.com
Amusement Expo 2020 feels like it happened years ago, not a year and a half. I’m sure you’ll agree that it is great to have last year in our rearview mirrors. This was readily apparent with Amusement Expo 2021 in Las Vegas, where after that long delay, we were finally able to get back together again. Not just to see some new products, but to meet with old friends. It did feel odd to shake hands again though.
Sometimes the “Spring show” is a little bit of a cakewalk for me, given that much of the products were seen at the previous IAAPA. Since there was no IAAPA 2020, this show ended up being a bit busier for me than usual. And it didn’t help that I had camera issues (grabbing the wrong tripod attachment, being unable to find a replacement battery for my camera and cracking my phone screen the evening before the show), which combined to cause a bit more of a headache than I had planned on. With those things resolved, I was able to get some hands-on time with various games.
A center of attention for me was the premiere of exA-Arcadia, their new dedicated cabinets and their huge lineup of games. They had more available than I had time to try, bringing more brand-new content to the show than anyone else –– about 25 brand-new games. I’ve never seen so many new titles at one show since I started attending them back in 2008, so while it was almost overwhelming, it was welcome!
Being unable to use my tripod, I wasn’t able to film all of them, but it was still great to get some hands-on time at their booth. As mentioned in my last article, I have had an exA-Arcadia system since January 2020. After seeing the dedicated cabinets, the desire to grab a second cabinet increased, as did wanting to add more of their games to my lineup. They have a lot more on the docket through 2022, covering more genres to entice serious gamers and help get them back into arcades. Their price point makes them a real contender on the market.
One thing I failed to mention last time is that the exA is my best performing joystick game. The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ fighting game has also been my #1 fighting title across both of my locations, vastly beating out the great (albeit aging) likes of Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat 3 and Tekken 5. One of the exA titles I’m looking at adding, especially after I got to play it at the show, is Chaos Code Exact Xeno Attack. It’s a fighting game that has a King of Fighters vibe to it. (That game has been a regular favorite so it will be nice to offer something fresh in that regard instead of 20- to 30-year-old titles like it.) If you have a location that still does video, the exA becomes quite the valuable and versatile piece.
Next, I headed over to Betson/Raw Thrills where I had my first chance to play Minecraft Dungeons Arcade. I had already placed an order for a unit prior to the show so it was nice to see how my next large piece would play. I like to think of it as “Gauntlet Legends Lite.” It’s certainly not a clone of that old Atari game, but it’s the closest video game I can compare it to when describing the gameplay. As I write this article, I’ve only had it operational for a single day so it’ll take time to see how it pans out. But, it’s already playing well to the young crowd, who are also getting a kick out of collecting the cards.
I also got a chance to play King Kong of Skull Island VR for the first time. (I missed out on it at the last show, but that’s all right, since the game has changed a lot between then and now.) I was surprised by how many interactive situations it threw at you (I expected a lot less) and I was also surprised to find that the game didn’t leave me with any feelings of vertigo or a migraine as a lot of VR usually does with me.
From there, I landed at the Incredible Technologies booth to check out the release version of Retro Raccoons and Golden Tee PGA TOUR. About the latter, it was really nice to see it getting some long-needed graphical updates; the cabinet and other hardware features are also welcome. Retro Raccoons fills an important niche as the “party game” that arcades have lacked for so long, and it should do great in arcade bars. Like the exA-Arcadia system, it’s also a game that finds itself at a fantastic price point. The additional mini-game updates and simple play will also make it a winner.
Unfortunately, I was only able to be at the show for a single day, so I wasn’t able to play a lot of other games. There were quite a few new pieces that put a video screen into basketball. For example, Bay Tek impressed me with their huge Rock The Rim, which also comes with versatile software that has a variety of games to play. Zombie Jam by The Really Big Crane Company was back and more polished than when we saw it at the last show; and LAI also had a video basketball piece, Slam ‘n’ Jam Ultra, that was an update of their classic Slam ‘N Jam game.
Speaking of LAI, almost everyone at their booth was mesmerized by the presence of Angry Birds Coin Crash. I’m not a coin pusher guy at all, but I could see the appeal in building giant coin towers and then seeing them crash below. Even without the ticket aspect, just tipping that thing over comes with its own kind of primal satisfaction. A somewhat similar feeling can be adapted to ICE’s Monopoly Roll-N-Go which was shown in an impressive display. I saw plenty of people just getting enjoyment out of spinning that giant die.
There were a couple of other popular pieces I was unable to try due to how busy they were when I swung by. One was Bay Tek’s Axe Master axe-throwing game and the other VRsenal’s Vader Immortal Lightsaber Dojo VR. Both of those games were impressive but for my small operation, they fall in the too big or too expensive category. Still, I imagine quite a few FECs will be taking a look at them…or will have already placed their orders. Also regarding VR, I had wanted to stop by the Boxblaster booth to learn more about their product, but ran out of time.
It was unfortunate that most of our overseas friends couldn’t make it. That also increased the challenges for some companies who ended up being understaffed at this event. I can’t help but wonder, for example, if it affected Adrenaline Amusements, which is headquartered in Canada. Still, they were able to send Twister to the show along with several previously shown pieces. Here’s hoping that is all able to change by November!
While I wish I could have spent an extra day there (and not been plagued by my amateurish camera problems), I had a good show. It helped me feel optimistic about the future of our industry, despite continued headwinds. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to show me their games, answer my questions or just have a chat. I look forward to seeing you at IAAPA!
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].