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I’ve been talking about the company and its games for years, and this week, exA-Arcadia finally was able to make their official introduction to the North American industry as they appeared at Amusement Expo 2021 with four cabinets a total of twenty-five games. While they have appeared at events like JAEPO before, that was usually as a part of a different booth, so I believe that this was their first full-blown tradeshow booth:

As this photo shows, they debuted with four dedicated cabinets, a pair of both the 2-player and the 4-player cabinet models (excepting the 2-player vertical model, which only didn’t show due to the lack of floor space).

The design is quite sleek, being an enhanced variation of Fun Company’s FunGlo V4 cabinets. I suppose you could call these V5 or maybe V.EXA, either way, they are present the brand and the games in a better way than my cabinet does, which is a custom V4. The speaker panel with instruction cards and the marquee go a long way in helping this presentation. I hope to get one of these marquees figured out for my unit soon.

ExA staff reported a great response from the show, and I even got a couple of texts from people saying that they were grabbing the system. This includes one going to the recently opened Castlecade in Madison, WI. While I don’t know if the sales have been confirmed yet, a few very big names were mentioned as showing a strong interest in adding exA cabinets to their locations. Either way, this should help those who have been complaining about the released games being found near them.

For those interested in a cab, yes, you can pick to have any one of the released exA titles to come with it; any other carts will be an extra cost. How much those are depend upon the distributor, but it sounds like they have several distributors ready to support it now that there’s a dedicated cabinet. The only one I’ve seen list one of the cabs so far is an AH advertiser, PrimeTime Amusements, but I imagine that others will be listed soon as well.

Game Announcements

Two new previously unannounced games were at the show, where I had the fortune of playing them a little. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked enough that I was unable to play all of the different exA titles on hand (everything on this page was there). I also ended up finding out when I got to the show that I had grabbed the wrong component of my camera tripod, so I was unable to use said tripod and had to film things holding the camera. This meant I missed filming several games that I played, so I apologize for that. It’ll definitely be rectified at the next show I attend.

Anyways…

These were not set up for general play but play upon request. My thanks to the exA staff for giving me the chance to check them out. They also had a catalog there that included a 3rd game announcement, but it wasn’t available to play.

Shadow Gangs X – Based upon Shadow Gangs, a title released to PC last year that plays much like the original Shinobi by Sega, but with some additional Data East (mainly Bad Dudes Vs. Dragonninja) vibes added to it in the art design. The way that enemies work feels much like Shinobi, as do elements like jumping onto rooftops or using your ninja arts to clear out the screen. The exA version will have completely redesigned levels (the console version is far too long for what works in an arcade), an additional female character who was unfinished in this build, but playable; It also is listed as a 1-player game, but it offers something that we rarely see anymore – 2-player alternating play.

Shadow Gangs X by exA-Arcadia

Dynamite Bomb: Strange People of a Certain Town – Here’s an up-and-coming anime fighter that will be wholly exclusive to exA as the company seeks to bring more full (instead of partial) exclusives to the platform. It uses the same engine that has been employed in Axel City 2, and there are 10 different characters to choose from.

Daemon Bride exAGAIN – This one just showed up in the catalog, but it’s one of those titles that makes sense with Team Arcana on board as an exA partner. There isn’t much to say about it yet other than it will not be the same version as was made available on NesicaxLive, but further updated/enhanced to make it a definitive version.

There was also a 4th game that was intended as an announcement – exA even had a sign with the new partner ready to go up on display at the booth – but a delay from that partner’s side meant that it was all postponed. Hang tight, as the official announcement will take place this month and like I said in my Amusement Expo preview, you all will be familiar with who it is and their games.

Other Games

All released games were on hand, but with my limited time I was only able to play a few of them. These included:

Akyrios EXA – This was among the first releases for the system, but I’ve not heard much about it as I think it’s mainly been of interest to collectors and locations in Japan. It’s a vertical scrolling bullet hell shooter, although I think it’s a little more forgiving than say Aka & Blue Type-R. While I played it, I didn’t get footage of it, so here’s the trailer:

Axel City 2 – There has been a lot of interest in this game ever since it was shown off at JAEPO 2019, and I did get a chance to film this one. I heard another guy at the show praising it, as he really dug the style. It also has a huge character roster of 40 characters, giving interested players a lot of options to explore. This will be available soon.

Bayani – This 1v1 fighter was announced back in 2019, but little had been said about it until now. Here’s a video to show some gameplay, where to me it seems like a cross between Street Fighter IV and Soul Calibur. This should launch later this year. This video also includes a brief look at the already released Chaos Code Exact Xeno Attack. On that one, I realized that I should have grabbed the game for my own exA system, as it’s similar to KOF and that’s a game that does really well in my locations.

Cosmic Digger 3671 – Here’s one that I played for a bit, but because I was focused on playing, and the game wasn’t setup to be played for the general floor, I didn’t film it. Fortunately, someone else snapped a pic of myself and ExA CEO Eric Chung playing. This will be released this year and like Kira Kira Star Night, will be one of the sub-$1000 games that will grace the system.

On the gameplay, it generously gives you 5 minutes (but not more) of time to rack up as many points as you and the other players can. Based upon a very obscure Japan-only release from 1980, how it works is similar to Pac-Man, Lode Runner(better comparison than Dig Dug for this one), and Amidar, then throws Jeff Minter’s psychedelic flare on top of it all. You have 5 minutes to dig holes around a maze, and if an alien gets caught, you have to go and cover them up for points. Touch an alien and you die. You also get bonus points for where you go in the maze, it will draw the edges around the walls and you can get combo chains by completing multiple blocks (sorry if that doesn’t make much sense – this is where the Amidar aspect comes in, but it’s a little hard to explain). There are also some sounds in this one that are similar to Eugene Jarvis’s classics like Defender and Robotron 2084, which is a nice touch.

DonDonPachi True Death Exa Label – The best-selling exA game to date was there and I got a chance to try it out. Granted, I’ve not really played any of the DDP’s before, but I have played a few of Cave’s shooters and I can see why this one stands out. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s always hard to say how well it would be received in the States.

Fight of Gods Arcade Edition – Released last year, this 2.5D fighter pits various gods from world religions against each other in a battle for dominance. The exA version has 4K support, rebalanced gameplay, and the addition of the Satan-like character Beliar. I’m not the greatest at fighting games by any means, but I was able to play this without needing to button mash (too much).

(Check back soon for a video)

Kira Kira Star Night Exa – I did not get a chance to try this one out, but the team had it on hand (just not set up for general play). This one is available right now.

Noisz Arc+Coda – Here’s a game that does something different, mixing a shoot ’em up with a rhythm game. While I expected it to be all hardcore, the gameplay I filmed showed otherwise. The player’s character has a circle around it with four smaller green circles that move in a counter-clockwise orbit. You’re just supposed to fire when any circle is at the 12 o’clock position. The exA version will have songs not found on the home versions and it also supports vertical mode.

(Check back soon for a video)

Nippon Marathon Turbo Hyper Running – I finally got a chance to try this wacky marathon/obstacle course running game and I can see why it’s doing so well on test (as previously reported, the game has been on test at two locations in the US, where it’s been outearning big name stuff like Injustice Arcade & TMNT). Designed for four players, you run along increasingly crazy obstacle courses in a bid to reach the finish line first, but that’s a lot easier said than done. Apart from the variety of obstacles, you also have Mario Kart style power-ups like fruit that can be thrown at opponents to knock them out for a moment. This game is already available and I can imagine it would be the pack-in game for most 4p cabinet purchases.

(Check back soon for a video)

P-47 Aces Mk. II – 4-player shmups aren’t too common, but my Dariusburst Another Chronicle still does fine for its age (the cabinet design certainly helps). P-47 is aiming to fill that niche with a horizontal shooter that also has adaptive difficulty and even an FEC difficulty mode (the game is more challenging in single player than in 4-player mode for example, so that STG fans who prefer to play these types of games alone for score can get the challenge that they crave). Like DBAC, this features a shared power-up system so that everyone can take advantage of what pops up on the screen, although there are still tweaks and adjustments coming to the system overall. The art style and the sounds are very reminiscent of Psikyo games of the past, so if you’re into that you’ll feel right at home. This one is coming soon, but no release date yet.

Rival Megagun XE – Here’s another game that I played, but failed to capture video of. It’s essentially Twinkle Star Sprites but with a space theme and it has certain changes to the gameplay that set it apart. The such as a rival player being able to become a boss character that your opponent has to fight (I was able to see how that worked in becoming the boss, and it was fun. Each button sent out a different type of boss style attack). This one launches soon.

Super Battle Princess Madelyn – I finally had a chance to try this game out and while I’ve never been big on Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, how they designed this one makes it much more enjoyable. It’s very much like GnG, just with some adjustments that remove a lot of the frustrations in GnG’s difficulty (one example: when you die, you start back where or close to where you died, instead of back at the beginning of the level). This one is available now, although unfortunately, I did not get any of it filmed, so here’s the trailer:

I had meant to also give Infinos EXA, Psyvariar Delta AC, Shikhondo Red Purgatory, and Strania EX a try, but those are ones that I missed out on; My apologies for being so talkative at the shows 😛 but also for the camera troubles. I’m really kicking myself over that since I’ve never had these kinds of issues before. I also wasn’t able to find a good flight home, so I only got one day at the show instead of two. Don’t worry though – when it comes to IAAPA, I’ll be there the whole week and I’ll make sure there aren’t any camera tripod issues.

Overall, exA had a strong show from my observations and they had more content/new content available than I’ve ever seen available at anyone’s booth in the 13~ years that I’ve been attending such tradeshows. It’s also refreshing to see a lower-cost solution; While I do still purchase and appreciate pieces that are designed for FECs, we small ops really need good content too, especially as we continue to try and crawl out of the 2020 hole.

What are your thoughts on all this?

 





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