Arcade Heroes IAAPA 2021: The Final Round-Up

Posted by Ongames247 on December - 30 - 2021

It’s unusual for me to get to the final IAAPA tradeshow round-up this late in the year, but this year has thrown me for a loop in more than one regard. Still, it’s better to finish this during 2021 than to post this in 2022, so here we go!

Previous Round-Ups:

IAAPA 2021 Round-Up #1

IAAPA 2021 Round-up #2

Picking up from where we left off in Part 2…

Playbox (Playdium)

This was one of the more unique gaming products at the show – not entirely because of the ball toss concept which has been done before, but with the presentation and the games. Pretty much every ball toss game I’ve seen prior was of Flash game or mobile quality; The games here were on more of a console level. Not just the graphics mind you, but the gameplay too. Sure, some of the games are just throw the balls at the targets, but they had one I was particularly intrigued by, it being the game you see in the thumbnail below. Only drawback for an operator like myself is that it’s so large and at a high cost that it makes sense for FECs, not smaller locations like mine and routes (although they do have a mobile version for events). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to check out their PlayBooth, an experience photo booth that was there.

Cactus Canyon Remake (Chicago Gaming)

I had only played this game once when I visited the Pinball Hall Of Fame a few years ago, and it quickly became one of my favorite pinball games ever. I didn’t even realize it was unfinished at the time, but the personality packed into the game is what sold me on it. From what I hear though, it seems you either love or hate it, but in playing the remake, I was still happy with it. If my budget could afford a pinball machine right now, this would be in my top considerations, but overall I will only be grabbing a new pin if I sell an existing one, since pinball’s ROI at my locations isn’t the best.

Elevator Action Invasion (UNIS)

I don’t like to bash on games, I always look for the positives first. With that, the graphics on this game are pretty nice, the gun felt fine and both the elevator door and floor vibration effects are cool. That said, I’ve heard a lot of reports of the doors malfunctioning when out in the wild and I just did not enjoy playing this game. I’m willing to give this one another chance, perhaps it was just set to the hardest Time To Die settings for the show, but as it was, it didn’t feel remotely fair and that sucked the fun out of it.  At least Bigfoot Crush seems like a solid kids game and OnPoint, as usual, was drawing in the crowds. If I was picking between two UNIS shooters, it’d be OnPoint in a heartbeat.

ATV Slam SD (Sega Amusements International)

I already discussed how I’m happy to see more SD/Standard cabinets coming along. In fact, I almost pulled the trigger on buying a pair of these, I just am already financing too much so had to back off. This game does require more skill than something like Super Bikes, but I think it looks great and it’s fun.

Godzilla (Stern Pinball)

The pinball machine that everbody’s talking about was at the show, and I could see why. I’m not particularly a fan of the films, but this one oozes personality and that is an important factor in making a game fun. I didn’t spend much time on the Pro model as the Premium is where it’s at, but I was hearing that it was a rather long wait to get one if you put your order in now, as opposed to in advance (some pinball guys I know put orders in sight unseen for whatever the next Stern machine is, months ahead).

Electric Gamebox

All they need to do for the mini-game shown is make the main characters less Pac-Man like and it would be good to go. It’s an interesting multiplayer, multi-game concept regardless, but it is intended for FECs and not smaller operations.

Gold & Mace / VRX-Perience (Boxblaster / Benchmark Games / Elaut USA)

I like this for being different, but at the same time, it’s rather strange to have guys flying at you and you have to catch them. Strange doesn’t always work out in casual arcade settings, so I’d be curious to see how it performs over the long run. It is better when you have a weapon like a spear, but you don’t start off with that. I do like the curved shape of the cabinet, although the front plexi was a little too high-gloss for shooting it at the show (I’m sure they look fine in a dark game room).

Also, here’s Surfin Surfari with a little extra footage. Team Play did have their own booth at the show; SS wasn’t there since it’s under Benchmark’s purview, but they did have a new kiddie ride/photobooth piece that was getting some good attention.

Skip Time (Wahlap)

This one as shown is a little janky, particularly with the shmup on the first level, but if it goes into the right venue (Chuck E. Cheeses or any other similar FEC), it’ll do fine with the kiddos. The LED floor is pretty cool though, so that by itself will draw attention.

Zoltar Speaks (Characters Unlimited)

This is more of a vending machine with an experience attached to it than anything else, but it is always cool to see.

Assorted AR/VR Products

Since some of these can be complicated in operation but not much to look in action, and most cannot be put onto something like a route, I did a compilation; Had to be two parts though after I discovered that I missed a couple the first time around:

One other note on the Rilix that I missed – while it doesn’t have a motion seat, the seat vibrates and there are wind effects. Otherwise like this, it doesn’t look like much, but it does have more going on.

StepManiaX (Step Revolution)

This game has already been out for 4 years so I didn’t spend much time on it, but did film Arcade Hero Phil and his girlfriend giving it some double pad play.

Axel City 2 (exA-Arcadia)

Last but now least, another recording from Axel City 2 on exA-Arcadia. I did film some Samurai Shodown V Perfect, but the recording needed SNK’s blessing and they said no, so we’ll have to wait. I can say that the game played perfectly (no pun intended) and the scanline effects looked great too. Hopefully it’ll be a part of the 2022 release roster; Same thing with Crimson Katana EXA. On another exA note, ShouTime had mentioned at the show that they’ve been able to bring their input lag times down even lower, doing something to bring them down to 1 frame or so (of course some variation will be present depending on the TV used). From the sounds of it, their input lag is as close as you can get to having a CRT, meaning it’s better than any of the game consoles on the market (and superior to other arcade titles out there)


While it wasn’t the biggest IAAPA ever and didn’t have the most products, it was a good, in some ways great, show. It was much better to connect in person than over Zoom for things like this, and for those selling equipment, they found more serious buyers than normal (in the past, it was common to have a lot of dreamers out and about).  Those buyers also understood that long, several month leads times would be the norm for some games, given the continuing supply chain & production slowdowns that are taking place.

I don’t know which of the games will become the best seller of the bunch, but from most companies I talked to, they sounded very happy with the response. I enjoyed most of what I played, and it was particularly interesting to play game genres that haven’t been present in arcades in a long time (shmups, first-person shooters, fighters).

Hopefully, we’ll see each other again at Amusement Expo in March, along with other new products that didn’t make the IAAPA cut, but who knows what will happen given the uncertainty going on right now (the only thing certain is that we’re uncertain 😛 )

I will have a more extensive Year-In-Review posting on the 31st – until then, we’ll see you around!

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