Last week, Arcade Heroes reported that a new indie game appeared at Midwest Gaming Classic: Cosmotrons. Since I’m always a big fan of indie arcade games, I figured that I’d give my thoughts on it. As of right now, Cosmotrons is not getting a full arcade release; in fact, the machine is more of a promotional piece for the Steam, PS4, and Xbox One releases. However, I want to look at this game from an arcade standpoint and look at how it might do if it received a full arcade release.
And yesterday, Arcade Heroes reported something that blew my mind into a bunch of tiny pieces: Nex Machina has a cabinet design and will get a loctest at some point. For those of you who don’t know why I’m so insanely excited, let me explain. Nex Machina is a new twin-stick shooter produced by Finnish developer Housemarque. And guess what? Mr. Eugene Jarvis is a creative consultant. That’s right; you heard me. I just said “new,” “twin-stick shooter,” and “Eugene Jarvis” in the same sentence. Anyway, let’s get on to the article. I’ll have plenty of time to go on and on about Nex Machina later.
Oh, and Nex Machina got a PS4 and Windows release or something. Just play the arcade version.
By the way, you should totally check out the results of my latest Twitter poll or whatever down below. Last week, it was the Daytona USA series versus the Cruis’n series. This week, in lieu of Nex Machina creeping closer and closer to an arcade release, I’m asking you all what you’re favorite twin-stick shooter is. Go vote in the poll here!
What Exactly is Cosmotrons?
Mr. Adam Pratt described it as “Gravitar meets Space Duel,” a description I think fits the game perfectly. Mr. Pratt described the cabinet itself as “…a little bit like a Vewlix has mashed up with a Computer Space.” The game uses only buttons as its controls, with no joysticks or knobs, and is set up for four players simultanerously. He also mentioned the marquee monitor topper, saying that it was “…a nice little touch in case a crowd forms around the game.” Cosmotrons also uses an HD monitor for its display, which “…portrays the old vector looks pretty well sans the flicker….” In my opinion, everything about the cabinet and controls seems great, but we’ll get to my thoughts in a bit.
In all honesty, I’d probably play any indie arcade game. I mean, look at me—I flip out over every new arcade game PERIOD. But more objectively, I think this game has the potential to be pretty gosh darn solid. Gameplay-wise, it seems to be a fun, challenging competitive multiplayer title. That four-player setup was a good idea, too. The more players you can shove onto a cabinet, the better! Personally, I think that I would enjoy the classic arcade style that the developers were going for, and it’s something that really stands out in the current marketplace. (Then again, everything stands out in the current arcade scene. Like I’ve said way too many times, we’ve been reduced to two dominating genres.)
Anyway, the cabinet also really stands out to me. Though my simple mind might not be able to grasp the controls, everything still looks really wicked. The monitor is crisp and sizable. Oh, and speaking of monitors: that marquee monitor topper is awesome. It’s just like those Midway Auxiliary Show Monitors, but attached to a modern game. I totally dig the addition of the monitor topper, because social interaction is a huge part of arcade gaming. This includes crowds forming around games, and the marquee monitor topper provides a way for everything to see what’s going on in a heated match of Cosmotrons (rhyme, people).
But Could This Survive in the Modern Market?
Here’s where things might get ever-so-slightly iffy for Cosmotron. Given its gameplay, I wouldn’t exactly call the most casual game in the world. Sure, players might enjoy the competitive multiplayer—but would they even try it in the first place? They might be confused by the controls, or they might turn away from a game that uses a vector-esque art style.
With that being said, this game does not by any means have to be in a Dave and Buster’s-type setting. This game would probably do just fine in a more classic-oriented arcade or a barcade. And surely, there are some private collectors who would buy this machine. But yeah, I don’t really see this as something that would soar in an FEC. That’s not a bad thing, though. A lot of times, the traditional arcade setting is better anyway. But since there’s not too terribly much on Cosmotrons so far, let’s move on to Nex Machina.
Nex Machina Cabinet Reveal
For a while, I was getting scared that Nex Machina wasn’t actually getting an arcade release. I knew I had read it somewhere in Arcade Heroes at some point, but nothing new was being revealed about the release. (Also, I accidentally called Nex Machina by the name of another Housemarque game in my “Arcade Hype List” article: Resogun.) However, all of my worries have been put to rest by the reveal of this flat-out WICKED cabinet:
Housemarque unveiled the design through Twitter on April 14th. The cabinet appears to have a massive monitor. Though I could make some joke about how every game these days has to have some big flashy monitor, it really doesn’t bother me. I mean, come on, this is a new arcade twin-stick shooter we’re talking about! Another aspect I particularly noticed was the wiring aesthetic of the cab, which appears to use actual wires just below the marquee and behind the control panel. What I especially noticed, however, was the single-player layout on said control panel. I haven’t played Resogun to know if it supports two players (I don’t have a PS4), but I’m wondering if being single-player only will affect Nex Machina’s ability to be, well, as fun as it could be! (And it'll effect earnings for the operator, I guess.) I kind of doubt it, because this is the most hardcore game we’ve had in the arcades for a while (gameplay-wise). Due to that, it’ll likely be something some hardcore dude would pump quarters into alone, even if it did support two players. Besides, I always play Smash TV alone, and that's not the end of the world.
I don’t know about you, but I was honestly expecting a flashier cabinet from Nex Machina. That’s not because I always want that or anything; it’s just because I figured Raw Thrills would dress it up more to attract players to something that isn’t a racing or shooting game. But you know what? No matter how Nex Machina is packaged, this makes me hype beyond belief. As long as they don’t alter the gameplay, I believe the arcade version will be perfect.
Twitter Poll Results
This week, I learned something that I kind of knew already: People really like Daytona USA. Though I'm a huge Cruis'n fan, I still haven't played Daytona, so we'll see if my opinion changes someday. Anyway, I figured this poll was fitting because both Cruis'n and Daytona recently received modern arcade revivals. That makes me wonder...which was better, Cruis'n Blast or Daytona Championship USA?
With the potential of a new indie arcade release and the full arcade release of Nex Machina approaching us, things are really looking up. As cool as Cosmotrons is, I have to admit that, yeah, I am just a little bit more excited for Nex Machina. Of course, that’s just because I love twin-stick shooters. I really do think Nex Machina can succeed. The modern arcade-goer doesn’t completely turn away from games that require more than steering or pointing-and-shooting. Nex Machina will succeed; in fact, I think it’ll light a fire that leads to the development of more games of different genres.
If I haven’t said it before, let me say it now: Here’s to the future, ya sweaty nerds.