I’m a sucker for mech games, and I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve had almost nothing in the genre in Western arcades. There was Mechwarrior 4 for Tsunami Tsumo cabinets, but that was about 20 years ago; You’ve also had the Tesla II Mech Pods floating about out there, but in both cases the games were very difficult to come across. Japan has had plenty beyond Gundam: Sega has Border Break, Square Enix has Starwing Paradox, Konami had Steel Chronicle, UNIS had Armed Resistance(I think that one only saw action in China though).
I recently wrote about the sequel to the famous “Gundam pods” that have been a fixture on the Japanese arcade scene for well over a decade, and today BNA released a new trailer that showcases the new cabinet design that they have for the game. Just a note that the likelihood of any Western arcade importing these (especially now) is pretty low, unless Bandai Namco Amusements America took the step of releasing this here (don’t hold your breath on that).
It’s definitely a pretty game, but this new cabinet is also something. While it moves away from “the pod” concept of using a curved screen(a design that BNA used in other titles like Mach Storm, Star Wars Battle Pod and Lost Land Adventure), it’s still going to draw attention. Per this review from someone who got to try it out, it still maintains the immersive feel of the pods, but is open air which is better for bystanders. That said, by what I’ve heard, this cabinet is also very expensive – which isn’t too big of a surprise when you look at all of the features. It is available as an update kit for existing Gundam pods, although the pricing I heard was shockingly high (and even if you purchase, there is still a revenue share split that goes from the op to Namco).
Anyways, let’s check out the new triple screen design. Each of these screens is 43″ in size, designed to make you feel like you are inside of a Gundam robot. The controls appear to be the same configuration as the older pod, using a pair of swivel joysticks and a pair of foot pedals. There are also two audio jacks in the front with their own volume controls, one for a mic and the other for headphones. The game cabinet also has added much more in the realm of audio, bumping up the speakers & channels to further immerse players. The machine supports Banapassport cards, but does not come with a place for a coin slot – electronic payment only. That said, you can pay with coins through the kiosk.
The kiosk (aka “Pilot Terminal”) also allows you to buy cards, customize your Gundam and weapon load out, manage your teams (through the new Deck Select mode), and you can also rent one of the cabinets on an hourly basis (if the location is setup for it).
A number of other enhancements have been made to the gameplay, although if you’ve never played the original, then it’s probably a moot point. From the reviews I’ve seen, it sounds like it is a welcome evolution of the concept, improving the game in a variety of ways that is also based upon player feedback. One other major change has been number of players that can be linked – the original allowed up to 16 at once (8v8), but this one will allow for a maximum of 12 players (6v6; 4v4 is also supported).
Again, I doubt we’ll really see this one here in the States, but if I’m proven wrong, I won’t complain. This one will launch early next year. What do you think about this from the revelations so far?