There were lots of fancy new games on show with even fancier price tags. But there was no feeling of razzamatazz at the 2000 JAMMA Show. Japanese makers, distributors and operaters are suffering from the domestic recession and the high Yen is killing exports. In Europe and the US, while the overall economies are racing along, the coin-op industry is in retreat. It just does not seem to be the time for big expensive machines. It is like the Russians feeding caviar to the emaciated inmates of German concentrations camps. Too rich and their systems couldn't handle it. Sega had great success last year with the low-priced driving games "Crazy Taxi" and "Jambo Safari SD" and the kits "Virtua Tennis" and "Virtua Striker 2000". Why they didn't mix up their show offering with a sprinkling of kits and low-priced machines is a mystery.
Another feature of the show was a clear cooling-off in enthusiasm for music games. Konami bowed a ream of sequels for their dancing, DJ, piano, drum, and guitar games but the excitement of previous shows was missing. In a survey of players and operators at the show by "Arcadia" magazine, no Konami music game featured in the players' top ten list of games at the show.To rub it in, Sega's new tambourine game "Shakattao Tambourine" was ranked much higher. For the record, Konami showed the following music machines:
Para Para Paradise, Drum Mania 3rd Mix, Guitar Freaks 4th Mix, Keyboard Mania 2nd Mix, Dance Maniax 2nd Mix
Fish & more fish: encouraged by the success of Sports Fishing, Get Bass and Bass Angler, several fishing-themed redemption games bowed at the show. One was Kita Nihon's "Goldfish Catch" where the players have to scoop live goldfish which they get to take home. Unfortunately, it seems players are more interested in the challenge of catching the fish than bringing them home so most of the fish caught get flushed down the arcade toilet or simply left on the floor to stink the place up. Yuvo Co. think they have cracked this problem by using plastic fish with magnets in their mouth in their fishing game. The players manoeuver rods with magnets on the end of the line to catch the fish. Successful players get a prize.
There were several new gun games at the show. Sega showed "Confidential Mission" and "Death Crimson OX" using the same cabinets as House of the Dead 2. Both are two-player games. Namco had "Ninja Assault" in both SD and DX formats as well as "Gunbalina", the latest sequel in the "Point Blank" ("Gunbullet") series. The most interesting attempt to make a new kind of gun game was Konami's "The Cop" (tentative title). Whereas "Time Crisis 2" used a pedal to duck and avoid bullets, "The Cop" has a sensor to sense the player's movement. If the player actually ducks, the perpective on the screen also ducks. If he moves right or left, the perspective also moves the same way. Konami first introduced this sensor technology into a dancing game "Dance Maniax" which was not the greatest success. So, it remains to be seen if players will shake off their inhibitions to make all the shapes necessary to play this game.
There were two new driving games on display: Sega's "NASCAR Arcade" and Namco's "Ridge Racer V Arcade". The "NASCAR" game was developed by the same team that did "Sega Rally 2" which is good, and "Touring Car" which ain't. "Ridge Racer V Arcade" uses a "PlayStation 2"-compatible board so the price should in theory be a little lower than normal.
Sega also showed SD and DX versions "Sega Strike Fighter", a "Sky Target" type of shoot-em-up flying game. The game uses the same cabinet as "Airline Pilots". Sega's "Planet Harriers" proved quite popular with both operators and players. It is a twin sit-down shooting game using joystick. The biggest machine on the Sega stand was "Guru Guru Station", a 14-player redemption machine where the prizes go round like a rotation sushi bar.
Taito showed the excellent "Battle Gear 2" and the latest version of the train-driving game "Densha De Go". Konami showed the sequel to "Punch Mania" and a very different photography-themed game called "Take Your Best Shot". The player has to focus the camera properly. Not sure how much fun it is. A better game looks to be "Football Masters", a World PK Soccer type game. There are various play modes available such as kicking at numbered targets, normal penalty kicks, free kicks etc. Namco also showed the upgrade version of "Golgo 13" (Sniper 13).
Capcom showed the latest version of "Rival Schools", a gun-shooting game called "Gunspike", "Capcom Vs. SNK Millennium Fight 2000", the plane shooting game "Giga Wing 2" and Mitchell Corp.'s "Mighty Pang". SNK showed "King of Fighters 2000" and "Nightmare in the Dark" in a tiny corner of the Aruze booth.
There were plenty of gaming machines on hand. Aruze showed "Derby Mark 6", "Papuan" and "Roulette King". while Konami had "Cyclone Fever", "Bingo Boomer", "Bomber Chance" and "Stingnet".
Togo showed their usual quietly confident carnival and redemption machines. Perhaps it is in these kinds of machines that the real "jewels" of JAMMA were to be found. Kato had a big line-up of prize machines including the monster prototype "Fancy Lifter Giga" and "Fancy Lifter Mini".
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