New Rashlander Indie Arcade Game; Sega’s IAAPA 2017 Booth

November 2, 2017

Howdy, y'all. Today, I’m providing you with commentary on news from the end of October…in November. You see, kiddos, I have a very strict schedule, and I honestly don’t have time to do more than Monday and Thursday articles. Because of that, my timeliness probably isn’t going to get any better.

            However, it’s still wonderful news, so you should totally read it!

            Also, I should probably mention that I had a fully completed After Burner Climax review in the pipeline, but I’m moving it to next Monday to ensure that THIS post is timelier. Because, you know, reviews are much less time-dependent.

            So, how about some commentary?

 

Rashlander—the next game blessing the Airframe arcade hardware.

Skycurser, if you remember, was developed on Griffin Aerotech’s own Airframe arcade hardware. Much like the Neo Geo or Atomiswave, Airframe allows developers to create arcade games for on unified, consistent hardware to remove some of the hurdles to development. Airframe, however, is especially compelling in that it was created with indie developers in mind. By breaking down the monumental barrier of creating one’s own arcade hardware, Griffin Aerotech has ensured that we’ll see a lot more arcade games in the future. However, with exception of Skycurser, Founding Force, and some untitled basketball game, there wasn’t really news of any other indie arcade games that would utilize the Airframe hardware.

            And then this showed up.

            Arcade Heroes reported last week that a new “gravity-based landing game” would be heading to Airframe quite soon: Rashlander by Ryguygames. In fact, we’ve already got a trailer, and I’ve gotta say—the game looks pretty wicked. The levels seem to be very open-ended and full of obstacles. Furthermore, the basic gameplay itself seems incredibly skill-based and unique. At the same time, it does seem very similar to Cosmotrons, but Rashlander sets itself apart by having what appears to be an incredibly in-depth single-player campaign as opposed to more multiplayer-focused gameplay. (And of course, Rashlander sports pixel art as opposed to a vector graphics aesthetic.) Take a gander for yourself, kiddos:

            If anything, Rashlander looks far more grueling and offers a far wider range of freedom than most modern arcade games, and this to me is extremely compelling. If the content we’ll be seeing on Airframe is this unique and engaging, then sign me up for a million more games. Hey, look at that—Rashlander is already confirmed to be a trilogy! And like I said, we’ve still yet to receive Founding Force and that Windjammers-esque crud! So yeah, Airframe is looking pretty cool.

            There's just something about Rashlander that makes it incredibly infectious. It seems like the kind of arcade game that will surely draw people around the cabinet, eyes locked onto the player who's either dominating the game or completely failing. Also, that chiptune song is a real earworm.

            You know, I love the artstyle in this game, but it does bring up a very real concern. Skycurser, Rashlander, and Founding Force all utilize pixel art—does that mean that Airframe isn’t capable of next-gen graphics? While I personally have no problem with it, pixel art in arcades is very different than pixel art in, say, a mobile game. In arcades, pixel art is less likely to be perceived as an homage than it is to be perceived as “outdated.” Why? Because casual gamers won’t know the difference, especially since the graphics are displayed on a CRT. On a mobile phone, it’s very clear that the game you’re playing is current, but in arcades, it makes us look like no one wants to leave the mid-90’s behind.

            Those are just my thoughts. I’ll play Rashlander no matter what.

            But think about this—Strike Harbinger (or Flight Armor Project, or whatever the heck they’re calling it these days) is insanely cutting-edge, beautifully next-gen. The polygon counts look sky-high, and it will be the first arcade game to output in 1440p at 60 frames-per-second. The catch? Strike Harbinger, too, is an indie game. It is very much classic Space Harrier/Star Fox rail shooting gameplay, but it is also impeccably modern. Is it really a bad thing to want modernity from indies? I think not. I’m not being selfish—I’m just hoping for a developer to debunk the myth that arcades are “dead” and “outdated.” Quite frankly, it sometimes seems like Raw Thrills, Sega, and Namco aren’t trying to do that, so why not bestow this task upon indies?

            At the same time, the artstyle gives me a really nice classic space shooter vibe. The grid background and numerous animated visual effects are just plain beautiful. So…what do we do? Who knows. I guess it's all a matter of personal preference. Perhaps we should call for the Big Three to step up their hardware game.

            Just some food for thought, kiddos. Play Rashlander.

            Do it.

 

Sega Amusements is woefully lazy, and I’m not afraid to say it.

One of the best things about ArcadeHeroes.com is that they’re truly unbiased. For the most part, they report the facts and only the facts about new arcade games and developers, and that’s totally cool. However, because of this unbiased perspective (and because Adam Pratt is the only writer), Arcade Heroes never really calls anyone out like they should. So, in lieu of that, here I am, calling out the numerous transgressions of none other than Sega Amusements.

            In case you don’t know, Sega Amusements is a London-based studio that’s basically all that’s left of Sega’s Western arcade presence. They’re responsible for a number of okay-ish/barely-pushing-good games currently sitting in FECs across the country: Let’s Go Jungle, Target Bravo: Operation Ghost, Transformers: Human Alliance, Luigi’s Mansion Arcade, and the new Daytona Championship USA. Beyond that, they mostly just rehash “Let’s Go Whatever-the-Heck” and “Operation GHOST But Different” a million times in different cabinets and call it a day. Oh, and they make redemption games.

            They make a LOT of redemption games.

            In fact, Sega Amusements has been so heavy of redemption and videmption lately that their US video game releases have been practically nonexistent. Like I said, the bulk of their releases really are just Let’s Go Island or Let’s Go Jungle in a new cabinet, and it’s absolutely pitiful. Couple that with how poorly the new Daytona has been received, and you’ve got a recipe for purely abysmal laziness.

            You see, folks, Sega Amusments is not Sega AM2. It is a hollow, empty shell of what Sega’s arcade output once was. And as much as I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt in most cases, that simply is not an option. Sega Amusments’ games are largely characterized as nothing more than soulless rehashes with having terrible graphics. Heck, their videmption games can pretty much be summed up as “Let’s slap Sonic the Hedgehog on this thing!”

            Of course, this all does sound very harsh—and it is. But if you want proof of Sega Amusements’ inexcusable laziness, look no further than their IAAPA 2017 lineup:

  • Daytona Championship USA – Pretty much everyone considers this nothing more than a soulless remake. I haven’t played it, but seeing the gargantuan deadzone in the steering wheel in gameplay videos was enough to convince me that it might just be an okay-ish racing game at best. But like I said, I haven't played it.

  • Target Bravo: Operation Ghost – This is an admittedly good game that came out in March, and Sega’s gonna show it off in its brand new upright cabinet at IAAPA this year. The catch? Target Bravo: Operation GHOST is a rehash of the original Operation GHOST, which is itself a game that came out in 2011. So, Sega decides to show off a rehash of a six-year-old game at one of the biggest amusement trade shows of the year? Very clever, Sega Amusements. I applaud you for your ability to lather last-gen games in fresh coats of paint—it is truly spectacular.

  • And the next four games in the lineup are cruddy videmption/redemption pieces, one of which is a Sonic-themed basketball game. So, uh…yeah. That’s fun.

            Compared to what we know of Raw Thrills’ IAAPA lineup, Sega Amusements is slowly starting to look like the Windows phone of arcade games. For a long time now, they’ve been just barely clinging onto their position as one of the “Big Three” arcade developers, but only because there’s no one else around. However, with all these indie developers popping up, I don’t think it’ll be too terribly long until Sega Amusements falls—and falls hard. Who’s to say that Sega even deserves its spot in the big three? And who’s to say that a company like Griffin Aerotech won’t soon secure its own place in this proverbial Big Three?

             As sad as it would be to see Sega go, they can’t expect to hang around very long if they keep relying on Sega Amusements to prop up their arcade output. With each new pitiful game from Sega Amusements, it becomes clearer and clearer that Sega must not care about arcades in the Western hemisphere anymore. This is made even more depressing when you look at Sega’s Japanese output and think, “What if we got all of those wicked games here in the West?”

             But hey, that’s just me. Maybe Sega Amusements will clean up their act, because they have “…another major game announcement to make,” according to a recent press release. Let’s hope it’s The House of the Dead 5. As unlikely as that is, I still think it could very well happen. However, if THoTD 5 is in fact what Sega has in store for us, it better not have a trace of Sega Amusements’ shoddy game design.

            Sigh. I hate being negative. However, I’d like to mention that this is most certainly Sega’s fault for making such terrible games. I’m just calling it as I see it. Also, I think we need some accountability if the arcade industry is ever going to return to its former glory.

            I will admit that Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games looks very nice, though, so don’t get too mad at me.

            Let’s just move on.

 

Conclusion

I think it’s about time to churn out another Arcade Hype List. Honestly, there are so many fantastic things happening in arcades right now that it would almost silly NOT to write one. Rashlander is, of course, further proof of this fact.

            I do feel kinda bad for Sega, though. Here's what I can do to make up for bashing them relentlessly: If Sega’s “brand new game announcement” ends up being something wicked cool beyond belief, then I’ll write an article praising it endlessly. However, if the new game ends up being some lazy rehash (or a lazy game in general), everything that I wrote in today’s article still stands.

            We got a deal, homeslices?

            Excellent.

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