Hey, everybody. Remember me? I’m that little video game boy with a blog. It’s been a long, long time since I ran my last post, but I’m finally back. You see, I’ve been pretty dang busy lately. With my usual school demands, applying for a whole crud-load of university junk, and working a part-time job at the local Save-a-Lot, I haven’t had much time to spare for writing. To make matters worse (or better!), I finally bought a Nintendo Switch, and it’s really captivated my remaining leisure hours. Case in point, Dustin J. Wilcox is one busy sonuvagun. Still, I was really disappointed by this particular hiatus. I know I went a couple months without posting in 2017, but 2018 was looking to be a perfect year. I had regularly posted almost every week—sometimes multiple times a week—since January, and I was looking to keep that streak going. Unfortunately, the busy month of November had to rear its ugly head and knock me off course. Even so, I am here, and I fully intend to provide y’all with the same quality content I’ve always written. It’s tough, but it’s worth it. Since I’ve missed my little arcade blog so dearly, I want to return with some items of particular interest to me. If you read my blog at least somewhat regularly, you know two things about me: 1) I’m a huge fan of Raw Thrills, and 2) I’m staunchly against the cost-prohibitive nature of many modern arcade games. That’s why it’s so, so good to say I can combine those two points into one very positive article. (Because, even if I write a lot of negative articles, I really don’t enjoy it. Good news deserves high praise.)
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Raw Thrills is releasing a two-player version of Halo: Fireteam Raven.
Since I’ve been gone so long, I might as well cover the news in chronological order. (I can’t even attempt to be topical at this point.) Back in October, Arcade Heroes confirmed what had been rumored since its initial release: Halo: Fireteam Raven would, in fact, be receiving a two-player version. While the gigantic, four-player, super deluxe cabinet is something to behold, it’s not a design that fits in every venue. (Plus, it’s ridiculously expensive. That’s why the smaller, more cost-effective two-player model is such a big deal. The two-player model essentially cuts the size in half. Instead of utilizing a 130-inch panoramic display (housed in two side-by-side environmental cabs), this version features a single 55-inch 4K UHD monitor in a single enclosed space. The standard two-player design much, much smaller and should fall in line price-wise with other Raw Thrills titles like Jurassic Park Arcade and The Walking Dead. If you were worried you’d never get to experience Fireteam Raven because it was too size- and cost-prohibitive for your local arcade, this new cabinet should hopefully alleviate those hurdles. Naturally, halving the display size will affect the gameplay, but only in slight measures. As I stated in my review, Fireteam Raven is an incredibly solid rail shooter. I’m sure it’s just as fun with two people as it is with four. And I wouldn’t worry too much about losing that sick “arcade experience,” either. Admittedly, the game’s massive size was mostly just a gimmick, and based on looks alone, the two-player cabinet design captures the same Halo feel. (It’s sorta the same deal as Konami’s 1992 X-Men beat-em-up. Sure, the six-player version is awesome, but you don’t lose a lot of the aesthetic or gameplay with the four-player cabinet.)
While I’m so, so ecstatic that Raw Thrills is already releasing a smaller and less expensive version of their latest rail shooter, I honestly think they could still take it a step further. I love environmental deluxe cabinets just as much as the next guy, but boy-oh-boy do I miss uprights. Raw Thrills has plenty of sleek upright designs from the Terminator Salvation and Aliens Armageddon days in their backlog. Who’s to say two-player Fireteam Raven couldn’t land in one of those bad dudes? Or perhaps a four-player upright with a Time Crisis 5-style cabinet? The possibilities are endless—and exciting. Unfortunately, it seems like upright shooters are all but dead. Even though I appreciate Raw Thrills’ current efforts in making Fireteam Raven accessible for all operators, I definitely think a cheap upright is the way to go, especially if they want their game to land in street venues. Still, Halo: Fireteam Raven was a fun game the first go-around, and I’d love to try to the two-player model out someday.
Cool stuff, right?
Raw Thrills is also slashing the price of Injustice Arcade. For real!
Now for the current affairs. About a week ago, Arcade Heroes reported that Raw Thrills would be selling Injustice Arcade under a new business model. As it stands, Injustice is sold at around $7,500 per unit. This change, though, will see a significant price reduction to make the game more enticing for the street market. As stated on the original post, the price will be “...quite a bit lower...even below where Big Buck Wild units were selling without monitor.” And from the sounds of it, this is a really attractive price range. If all Raw Thrills game distributors jump on board and this price model catches on, it could mean big things for the arcade industry. It’s a well known fact that arcade game prices have skyrocketed within the past few years. The increasing prevalence of flashy, super-deluxe cabinets (like Halo: Fireteam Raven) has made $10,000, $15,000, or even $20,000 games the norm. And while these pieces certainly attract players and work beautifully in family entertainment centers, many smaller arcades are struggling to keep up. Injustice Arcade, despite its over-casualization of the fighting game genre, is very popular right now. Slashing the price of such a high-profile title is a bold move. It seems pretty clear to me that this price cut is aimed squarely at the street market. Unlike a lot of the huge, sit-down cabinets of late, Injustice Arcade utilizes a relatively space-conscious upright design. However, because of its
somewhat steep initial price, it seems this one has stayed mainly in FECs. By shaving off so much of the initial investment, Raw Thrills is making their collectible card game infinitely more attainable. I’m not a big fan of Injustice Arcade as a game, but I absolutely love what Raw Thrills is doing with the price. Any business model that makes arcade equipment more attainable is a solid one indeed. Injustice cards will be everywhere, kiddos.
As much as I love this price cut, I can’t help but think of another game that’s equally, if not more, deserving of the same business model: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Released in May 2018, Raw Thrills’ TMNT game is a bit of an anomaly in the current arcade climate. It isn’t just another rail shooter or driver—it’s a brand-new beat-em-up inspired by the Konami classics of yesteryear. And it’s a darn good one, based on my experience with the prerelease software. (I went on and on how about how awesome it was in the December issue of Replay Magazine. What can I say?) I have to wonder how well TMNT has sold, because that information isn’t publicly available just yet. But because it’s such a phenomenal game that boldly brings back the beat-em-up genre in an arcade climate where no one else would, the title deserves more acclaim. Just like Injustice Arcade, TMNT is housed in moderately sized upright cabinet that’s perfect for street operations. But unlike Injustice, TMNT is a really, really cool game. I truly do believe that, if Injustice’s massive price slash increases its sales, Raw Thrills’ token beat-em-up should receive the same treatment. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is fantastic release that deserves a space in so many more arcades. Of course, even if that never happens, I’m glad Raw Thrills is doing more to help out the little guys. Like I said, the Injustice cabinet is already small enough for most street venues; the $7,500 price tag was the only thing holding operators back. Significantly reducing the initial investment is a good move, and I commend Raw Thrills for it. However, I’m still yearning for them to do the same with TMNT. A beat-em-up that solidly constructed should be in every arcade in the country! Pretty please?
Since I’ve been very concerned about the rising costs and size of arcade equipment in recent years, it’s good to see developments like this making games more attainable for all operators. Although Injustice Arcade isn’t exactly my favorite game—and the Halo: Fireteam Raven two-player cabinet is still quite sizable—Raw Thrills is still taking effective strides to accommodate the little guys. This is what I like to see, boys and girls.
It's often frustrating to be an arcade gamer. Many of us plead and plead for change, yet it sometimes feels like companies outright ignore our requests. While we could "vote with our dollars," it tends to be futile when the exact practices we're against still prove incredibly popular. So, when progress is made, it means a heckuva lot. Maybe Halo: Fireteam Raven will never receive an upright variant. Maybe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will never receive the price cut it so sorely deserves. Either way, Raw Thrills enacted important changes this time around, and that's super jivin'. Once again, I’d like to apologize for my prolonged hiatus. Wilcox Arcade is super duper important, but until it becomes a full-time gig, it’s always going to play second fiddle to the rest of my life. I’ve got school and work and stuff, you know? It’s a hard-knock life or whatever. But I’m back, dudes. Until the next hiatus, at least. Here’s to 2019, ya sweaty flipping nerds. Buy my shirts.