Hoo-boy, am I bad at maintaining regular series on my blog.
Yes, boys and girls, it’s true: the fabled Arcade Hype List has finally returned after just under two years of hiatus. Thank goodness I, goofy arcade man Dustin Wilcox, have finally resumed rattling off the upcoming arcade games I’m eagerly anticipating. What would you do without me?
Probably lots of things. Bsut you sure as heck wouldn’t have this Arcade Hype List.
Enter the Gungeon: House of the Gundead
Developer: Griffin Aerotech, Devolver Digital, Dodge Roll
Publisher: Griffin Aerotech
Release date: Early 2020
Out of the four titles on this list, Enter the Gungeon: House of the Gundead is far and away the one I am most excited for. I have a great deal of respect for developer Griffin Aerotech and their previous two releases—Skycurser and Rashlander—so seeing them back in action now is a truly enticing prospect on its own.
As for the game itself, I’m still not entirely sure how well it will play, but I have very high hopes for its quality nonetheless. Enter the Gungeon: House of the Gundead is a two-dimensional rail shooter set in—you guessed it—the Enter the Gungeon universe in which you and/or your buddy tear through multiple floors of nasty Gundead creatures. Along the way, you’ll dodge roll past oncoming attacks; unlock new weapons, power-ups, and secrets; and oppose “legendary guardians of the Gungeon” to secure victory.
Since I myself have played neither Enter the Gungeon nor follow-up Exit the Gungeon, the attached IP doesn’t hook me nearly as much as the unique mechanics and ideas proposed in House of the Gundead’s overview. Marrying tight on-rails shooting and keen dungeon-crawling is something I’ve simply never experienced before. In the capable hands of Griffin Aerotech, Devolver Digital, and Dodge Roll, House of the Gundead could be something very special.
Exciting as all this is, we still have a long way to go until Enter the Gungeon: House of the Gundead lands in arcades. Here’s hoping arcade operators latch onto this one—because I want to play it so dang bad.
Mission: Impossible Arcade
Developer: Sega Amusements
Publisher: Sega Amusements
Release date: TBA 2020
While on the whole I’ve begun to lose interest in most of Sega Amusements’ output, something about Mission: Impossible Arcade grabs my attention. Sure, it’s just another rail shooter...but I believe there’s enough innovation and care at play to elevate the entire experience.
In Mission: Impossible Arcade, two teams of two players, each team on opposite 55-inch screens, compete to tackle missions before the other using sets of dual pistols and spy technology. Players assume the role of IMF trainees to work through three missions, containing three stages each, and “sabotage enemy plans to weaponize humanoid robots.”
Apparently, the standard rail shooter gameplay will be made all the more interesting by the implementation of less combative segments, such as hacking minigames. I won’t know whether these sequences are truly interesting or simply glorified set pieces until I play the game myself, but I’m still very intrigued by the prospects.
Despite my excitement—this is a hype list, after all—it’s been very hard to get a feel for this one with how cagey Sega Amusements has been about releasing photos and videos of the game in action. (I’ve heard license-holder Paramount is breathing down their necks pretty hard.) Even so, I’m greatly looking forward to Mission: Impossible Arcade.
The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ
Developer: Jae Lee
Release date: Q1 2020
You all knew there was going to be an Exa-Arcadia game on this list, so let’s get it over with. Out of the four titles available for the platform’s launch—all of which are special in their own ways—The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ may as well be the one I’m most highly anticipating.
Although I’m not the best fighting game competitor out there, I absolutely adore the genre, and that adoration is amplified tenfold in an arcade setting. For me, The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ is coming at the perfect time—filling a long, long drought in proper fighting game content arcades outside of Japan. (No, Injustice Arcade and Marvel Contest of Champions don’t count. They never, ever will.)
Since I haven’t purchased the PC version yet (known simply as Shaolin Vs. Wutang), I don’t actually have any idea how The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ will play on Exa-Arcadia. Regardless, I’m mighty intrigued by what I’ve seen in gameplay footage.
Perhaps Jae Lee’s love letter to classic martial arts and kung fu films—self-described as “not intended for hardcore fighting game players”—will reignite interest in the oft-ignored one-on-one fighter genre. And maybe…it’ll be tons of fun.
Centipede Chaos (Standard)
Developer: Play Mechanix
Release date: Q1 2020
When Centipede Chaos was first announced in deluxe cabinet form, I had super mixed emotions on it. On one hand, it was a pretty harmless modern reimagining of one of my all-time favorite games. On the other hand, with 2019 feeling like one of Raw Thrills/Play Mechanix’s driest years yet, Centipede Chaos didn’t seem like anything that really stood out from the pack.
Based purely on its own merits, though, Centipede Chaos looks pretty good. All the fun of the original Atari hit has been cranked up—now louder, flashier, and more intense. Plus, the addition of boss battles is wildly attractive. The only real issue I have with Chaos is its implementation of an eight-way joystick in lieu of the far more accurate trackball controls of its forebear.
However, now that a smaller, “standard” cabinet has been revealed, my interest in the title is massively rejuvenated. In my opinion, Centipede Chaos isn’t supposed to be a “big” game; it should instead function as a smaller delight to fill out the annual release schedule. This new cabinet better reflects that concept. (And it looks darn good, too.)
One major hiccup remaining is, as you might guess, the ticket redemption aspect. I simply refuse to play Centipede Chaos on anything but amusement mode—but most arcade operators aren’t too keen on offering pure video game experiences in today’s day and age. Since there’s nothing I can do about this unfortunate phenomenon, I probably just won’t play Centipede Chaos.
Shame, ain’t it?
The arcade world is in a pretty good place right now. Sure, there’s plenty of garbage lingering on the horizon—Red Zone Rush, for instance—but there are at least some games I’m genuinely interested in. How would I pump out Arcade Hype Lists otherwise?
As always, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this article. (Believe me: there’s more where this came from.) With some hard work and plenty of luck, I intend for 2020 to be Wilcox Arcade’s best year yet.
Catch ya later, kiddos.