Retro Raccoons Is Ready for Prime Time!
I.T. Plans Summer Rollout of Its Collaboration with Glitchbit
One glance and it’s got you. Retro Raccoons’ colorful, bit-mapped graphics harken back to the glory days of early video games, and its simple one-joystick, one-button gameplay and randomly selected short mini-games provide just the kind of entertainment that’s great for the casual player out with friends. That’s all by design, say Josh Pick, VP of Amusement Sales for Incredible Technologies, and game creator Adam Wray of the indie games company Glitchbit.
“The development really started out of the need for such a product and there just isn’t any other game like it,” explained Wray.
Going to arcade bars, he saw that a lot of games were older video games and pinballs but, even as fun as something like Pac-Man might be for players, games from that era can be service headaches. “Arcade bars are dealing with technology that’s out of date and not too serviceable for the average owner. With Retro Raccoons, you get the nostalgic appeal without the service headaches of older equipment.”
Wray also noticed games that didn’t physically fit the location very well (they were just too large) and some had gameplay that also didn’t “fit” the needs of the clientele, requiring greater time and focus than what a casual player might be in the mood for.
I.T.’s Pick explained, “With Retro Raccoons, each game session lasts seven to eight minutes. I’ve found that to be the sweet spot where players can then take a break, grab a drink and do other things. They can come back to the game later that night, next week or the next night and have a very different, yet still familiar, play experience.”
“That’s how I envisioned and started to develop the game,” Wray explained. “It’s very simple to play – one button and one joystick – and appeals to everyone from kids to grandpas. The bitmap-style graphics are very familiar and the retro look was intentional and with the purpose of making it a throwback to the arcade classics. Its nostalgic appeal makes it very approachable.”
Retro Raccoons also has two modes of play. In the Cash Mode, it’s simply about playing the games for fun (I.T. says it may explore ticket redemption down the line if warranted). For the bar and home crowd, there’s the Cheers Mode in which players set their drinks in the oversized holders and the game invites players to cheers when they lose a minigame.
The “bite-sized” games are key, say the duo, helping the two- to four-player game fit work as well in bars as arcades or other locations. There are over 40 minigames in the unit’s library and while they span many different genres, they all maintain that familiar and simple vibe. As players are served up a random eight minigame selection, they might be playing a platform jumper one minute, and then switch to a top-down view for a quick game of mini-golf the next. Some games have players working cooperatively with another while others have them compete head-to-head.
“There’s a really fun tug-of-war game for four players that pits two vs. two. Each player is hitting the button as fast as they can to win the tug of war,” enthused Pick.
Added Wray, “That game usually gets the most hurrah and spectator attention. With the game rotation in Retro Raccoons, the person who was the villain in one mini-game might be your ally in the next.” When it comes to a spelling game that’s in the mix, players, in two teams of two, slam blocks to spell three-letter words. The depth of the word library helps keep it fresh, Wray said: “Even if you play the same minigame repeatedly, you’ll have a different experience.”
But, Wray and the team at I.T. aren’t stopping with the initial 40 games offered in the cabinet and have committed to push out more content for at least the next year. Just like Incredible Technology’s Golden Tee Golf, the unit’s internet connectivity through ethernet or Wi-Fi makes regular updates possible and easy.
Born in the Garage
It may border on cliché these days that something cool was born inside someone’s garage, but that’s the exact path Retro Raccoons has taken. While the game operators will see an arcade game come to market that has been through a few different titles and iterations, it started out simply as a fun project Wray put together a few years ago in his garage for friends. They enjoyed it so much, he decided to show it at the GDEX, the Midwest’s premier game expo, where it won best game honors. Whether by luck or kismet, I.T.’s Josh Pick happened upon the game, loved it, got in touch with Wray, and the collaboration was born. Covid may have stalled its release but hasn’t dampened Glitchbit and I.T.’s enthusiasm nor their efforts to ensure it has the broadest appeal possible.
Making sure Retro Raccoons delivers the best player experience, Wray stays tuned to what players want. “I.T. gives feedback, too, just like the players do,” he said, “That’s the way development is going these days. I’m very aware of and listen to what people want.”
It’s been a great collaborative experience between the two companies, he continued. “I.T. is committed to variations, sound effects and enhancements,” said Wray.
“In the old days, you used to put out a game and ‘forget’ about it –– it remained just as originally released. But today, with ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, you can do what arcades even 20 years ago could never imagine: You can address what players want and new trends in the marketplace, pushing out new experiences and content. You see this with what I.T. has done with Golden Tee Golf. Those games are never truly ‘done.’ New stuff is being added because players just love new content.”
The pair are optimistic about the game’s future and that of the industry as a whole as restrictions continue to be lifted and locations get closer to “normal” operations. Wray, who knows a number of arcade bar owners, reports that “they are seeing their biggest numbers ever. People are tired of playing games online and indoors. They want to be out, meet new people and raise their drinks, ‘cheers-ing’ their friends. You can’t capture this when you’re locked up at home but you sure can in arcades!
“There’s also a spark…just something that happens when friends get together and share an experience and bump elbows that you don’t get anywhere else,” added Wray.
Pick said, “And with Retro Raccoons, even when you lose, you’re laughing. The games are that much fun.”
As for the market conditions for new equipment, Pick said, “No one knows how it will be to come out with a new game following a pandemic, but I believe people need the social interaction they’ve been lacking and I think Retro Raccoons is the perfect way to get it.”
Added Wray, “You know, it’s funny that in every culture across the world – whether you’re American, Russian, French, Asian, you name it – drinks are what bring people together. It’s a social lubricant that creates a spark. You ‘cheers’ each other. When you combine that with an arcade game, it just makes sense. When you look at the demographics of Golden Tee Golf, which is a very different play experience, you see people drinking and playing. It reminds me of what we’ve captured with Retro Raccoons, but with a more casual play experience.”
Noted Pick about the social aspect of games and relationships, “At a Nightclub & Bar Show a few years ago, a speaker said that for the majority of people who meet a special someone, today it’s happening at arcade bars, which they considered to be a venue with three or more games. The fact that these locations come in as the #1 place is really promising for our industry.
“There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned video game to bring people together and have some fun,” Pick continued. And now with people being able to get out and enjoy real-life social interaction again, he and Glitchbit’s Wray are excited that Retro Raccoons is finally coming to market.
So whether the game finds itself in an arcade bar set up with the Cheers Mode or in an arcade or FEC, the two feel Retro Raccoons is going to accomplish Wray’s initial goal with his garage-born game: get people together to have fun. “There’s no better way to get to know someone than by having fun together, drinking or not,” said Wray.
Incredible Technologies will have the game at the upcoming Amusement Expo (along with their brand-new Golden Tee PGA TOUR golf game) and if everything goes according to plan, Retro Raccoons will be shipping by summer. Learn more about it by visiting amusement.itsgames.com/games/retro-raccoons. Incredible Technologies can be found online at www.itsgames.com; Glitchbit is at www.glitchbit.com.