My 2018 Raw Thrills Wishlist

It’s 2018, people. (Well, I guess it’s been 2018 for a while, but I’m trying to make a point here.) Since it’s 2018, it’s time to start looking forward to 2018 arcade games! I look forward to Raw Thrills’s output in particular. We’ve been promised two HUGE games in 2018: Nex Machina Death Machine and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The former is a tough-as-nails overhead twin-stick shooter; the latter is a 3D sidescrolling beat ‘em up. If those two games don’t immediately show you that Raw Thrills is going to dominate this year, I don’t what will.

Raw Thrills has always been one of my all-time favorite arcade developers. And since Raw Thrills starting to take more risks, I decided I’d compile a short of list of games I’d like to see from them in 2018. Most of it is pretty unrealistic, but I still think player input is always a good thing. Sure, I’m just one player. But still, I can try. And we can all try! Player input is important, after all. If you agree with this list, you can send it Raw Thrills’s way. If you want to see different games this year, write your own list and send it to Raw Thrills! Because this is how we make change. Arcades will never become uber-popular again if we don’t share what we want with developers.

Anyway, that’s over; let’s move on. Throw it in the trash. It’s time to look at some horribly unrealistic video game fantasies.

Target: Terror 2

Target: Terror 2 is probably the most realistic desire on this list—but just barely. It’s a rail shooter, sure; but it’s also the “outdated” point-and-shoot, ten-bullet, shoot-offscreen-to-reload kind of rail shooter. Raw Thrills doesn’t really make these kinds of games anymore. And the industry as a whole seems to have dropped this style, too. (Even the new House of the Dead game will be using an uzi, based on recent reports.) The closest thing we’ve gotten recently is Time Crisis 5, and that was from Namco.

What makes Target: Terror 2 even more unlikely is what makes it even more of a relic than it already is: motion-capture. When the original Target: Terror dropped in 2004, it already looked “dated”. Using live actors in video games hadn’t been a thing since the late-90’s. But in 2018? Even the slick HD mocap Raw Thrills can do now (I’ve seen the Big Buck HD Western-themed minigame), many players would still scoff at it. What people don’t seem to realize is that motion-capture, like pixel art, is a deliberate design decision. Eugene Jarvis chose that artstyle for a reason, and the game does not take itself seriously—at all. I’m afraid that in our polygon-pushing times, people would be even less capable of understanding that a game like Target: Terror is 100 percent tongue-in-cheek.

To top it all off, the original Target: Terror was a very, very gory game. I’m not sure how well that would fly in 2018 arcades. Sure, we’ve Dark Escape 4D and The Walking Dead, but those feel like anomalies. Games tend to be a lot more family-friendly in today’s arcades.

But despite all the odds—despite the numerous reasons I just named that would actually discourage Raw Thrills from making Target: Terror 2 (oops)—I still really, really want it. BAD. Target: Terror is a FUN game. Blowing up a dude’s head and watching the ridiculous, exaggerated reaction is always satisfying. Target: Terror 2 would provide the arcade industry with a (much-needed) dose of humor. Arcade games, particularly Midway games, used to be funny. Now, not so much. But by bringing Target: Terror back, we can have more fun shooting terrorists and get a good laugh out of our 45 minutes at the arcade. Target: Terror 2 is not the game we deserve; it’s the game we need.

However, if Target: Terror does in fact come back, I have a few requests. For one thing, we need some recoil in those guns. I get that Target: Terror was supposed to be a cost-effective game, but after Time Crisis, I can’t go back to guns that don’t have any force-feedback. And while we’re subject of cost, Target: Terror 2 needs to be released in a standard cabinet form. There can be a deluxe environmental cabinet, too; that doesn’t bother me. All I ask is that a cost-effective standard cab also be released.

My final request is one that would probably be addressed anyway: Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, tone down the difficulty. Target: Terror was a funny game, sure. But sometimes, no matter how funny a game is, you can’t justify putting in more quarters. Target: Terror straddled that line way too much, and that’s probably why it hasn’t been remembered as a classic yet, despite deserving that recognition. Modern arcade games have become considerably easier (just play Jurassic Park Arcade, for instance), so I think this would be fixed anyway. Still, I want this to be known. Please, Eugene Jarvis, make the game a bit more fair. (Then again, I’d have to play Target: Terror a little more before I criticize it too much. I've just heard from a number of sources that the game is intensely difficult.) I think the perfect way to keep the game tough while also keeping it fair would be to outline enemies in red when they’re about too shoot, like what was done in Terminator Salvation. That was a genius game mechanic, and I think it would make Target: Terror 2 that much better. You know, if it ever comes out.

I can dream.

Dirty Pigskin Football 2

If Dirty Pigskin Football 2 (or DPF 2018, if they go the yearly-naming route) became a real thing, I bet ya it’d be one of the biggest left-fielders in Raw Thrills history. It’s certainly not a game anyone remembers. Dirty Pigskin Football is an obscure Atomiswave game that Play Mechanix released quietly in 2006. It was the pre-Raw Thrills and Big Buck Hunter Pro days; the days when Play Mechanix games varied wildly in quality. “So Dustin,” you’re probably saying. “If Dirty Pigskin Football is obscure and rarely remembered, why do you want a sequel so badly?” I’m so, so glad you asked.

Dirty Pigskin Football is NFL Blitz 2006 in all but name. It relies on that same pass- and run-based gameplay, and it’s got LOTS of violent tackles. Clearly, Play Mechanix really wanted to bring back the glorious, wonderful days of over-the-top Midway arcade sports games. Of course, Play Mechanix didn’t go the officially-licensed route (I doubt that any arcade developer could compete with EA for the NFL license at this point), but that was okay. Since they didn’t have any real teams at their disposal, Play Mechanix crafted eight original teams. Each one of these teams is completely unique and has their own amusing charm. Even the flipping fields are a joy to look at! No, scratch that—even the music and sound effects are fun! Dirty Pigskin Football is packed with personality and charm—and I wanna see more of that in 2018!

Bringing Dirty Pigskin Football 2 to arcades could potentially rejuvenate the sports genre in the industry. It makes football so simple—and so funny, with all those colorful teams and fields—that even casual players might give the game a whirl. Dirty Pigskin Football 2 would be so awesome. Play Mechanix and Raw Thrills know what they’re doing; just imagine the updated gameplay and graphics! They could keep the old teams in the game and add eight entirely new teams! Sixteen gosh danged teams!

Of course, even with all of this fantasy I’m throwing at you, I should still keep things somewhat grounded in reality, for everyone’s sakes. It is highly, highly unlikely that Dirty Pigskin Football 2 will ever be made. Like I said, it’s one of those super-obscure games from the first ten years of Play Mechanix’s existence. There is no nostalgia; there is no community around the game pushing for it to come back. And beyond that, I just don’t know if sports games would work in arcades anymore. It’s sickening to see people at school clamoring over yearly EA Sports ripoffs (sorry, “games”) and their hyper-realism. Arcade-y sports games just might not make it anymore, especially without an NFL license. When you consider that the large majority of modern arcade games are racing games and rail shooters, it makes Dirty Pigskin Football 2 seem even more unlikely.

However, I continue to hold on to my gosh danged hope. Bringing back DPF (perhaps as a reboot) would be the perfect opportunity for Play Mechanix and Raw Thrills to bring an entire GENRE back to arcades, just like they’re doing with Nex Machina and TMNT 2018! It would be fantastic and totally kick some life into the arcade industry. And besides, I really, REALLY want Dirty Pigskin Football 2. I want it so badly! You can’t find the original game anywhere because it’s so darn obscure! Please Play Mechanix, please!