AOU 2000
Monday, Feburary 28, 2000
Arcade News
Written by Ryuju

Hordes of people: bad. Many, many arcade games: good.

On February 25, the Amusement Operators Union 2000 Amusement Expo began at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, Japan. This is the 19th AOU show, and 58 companies are displaying their latest amusement machines throughout 768 blocks (1 block, a unit of booth space, is about 3 meters square). There is a wide variety of amusement machines on display: video games, music games, sports games, UFO catchers, Print Club machines, and more.

Although the first day was only for press or industry figures, it was still crowded enough that it was hard to get a look at popular games. The second day, which is open to the public, will be even worse, with legions of fans in attendance. But while I have a chance at a closer look, here are some impressions and pictures of the many games on display.


- The management has no comment.

1. Marine Fishing - Sega's latest fishing sim offers a step beyond Get Bass, allowing you to hunt an array of ocean-dwelling fish, rather than just, well, bass.

- It's Sega, it's marine, it's fishing. Questions?

2. Virtual On Oratorio Tangram M.S.B.S. Ver. 5.66 - This new version of Virtual On 2 is equipped with VMU slots, allowing you to use your modified Virtuaroids from the Dreamcast version of VO2. Also, four of the DC version's original stages and a few entirely new Virtuaroids have been added.

- Virtual On 2.566 - or something like that.

3. Virtua NBA - Perhaps the most realistic basketball game we've ever seen. This is proper 5-on-5 basketball, using the NAOMI board to create an arcade-style game that remains true to the spirit of the real sport. Just like Sega's
Virtua Striker (their arcade soccer game), the game's control is very simple, but you can still pull off many tricky plays.

- The Virtua NBA cabinet.

- Sega's stage show promoting the game.

4. Power Smash - Continuing Sega's lineup of sports titles, this NAOMI-driven tennis game, with smooth, detailed renditions of eight real-life tennis stars. Given the hardware it's running on, a Dreamcast port is probably in the works.

- Note the real names on the select screen.

5. Star Wars Racer Arcade - Not to be confused with the LucasArts PC and N64 games, this is another 3D racing game based on the podracing sequence in Star Wars Episode 1. You have to use two engine levers to control speed and steering, just like in the movie. Using a special expanded cabinet (like the original Daytona) you can race against up to three other players.

- No, the N64 cannot do this.

Other games: Nippon TV-type Future Predicting Studio (as the name suggests, it's a future-prediction game based on a TV game show), Quiz Ah! Megami-sama (a trivia game based on Kosuke Fujishima's manga series), and Touch De Uno (a selection of simple twitch-style games).

-'s calling you... - Uhm...hum.

1. Keyboard Mania - The latest Bemani music game, following Beatmania, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Freaks, and Drum Mania. It uses two 24-key Yamaha keyboards to realistically simulate making actual music. This is easily the most complex interface to appear in a music game, allowing an unprecedented level of corresponding complexity in the game itself. If you choose the double-play mode, which requires both of your hands, you'd better have a real pianist's skills.

- KeyboardMania. - Yes, BeatMania still captivates.

2. Dancing Stage featuring DREAMS COME TRUE - A successor of sorts to the first Dancing Stage, which featured the music of Japanese pop group True Kiss Destination, this new dancing game includes music from the group "DREAMS COME TRUE." The soundtrack was gathered from among 10 of DCT's albums.

- Dancing Stage DCT.

3. GTI-CLUB Corso Italiano - This is the sequel to Konami's fashionable and fun driving game (check our earlier AOU coverage for another look). You get to drive through rural settings in the mountains and coast of Italy in an array of great-looking European classic cars.

4. PunchMania-Hokuto no Ken - Basically, this is a simple QTE-style game, but it's much more interesting than others of its ilk. A set of Punch Pads popup when enemies on the screen attack you. When the lights on the Punch Pads flash, punch the pads with the gloves to thwack the enemy. If the timing of your attack is precise, you can even do (DADADADADADADADA!) special attacks.

- You're already putting quarters in...

Other games: Muscle Ranking StrikeOut! (a baseball-tossing game based on the TV game show you may have heard of), and GI - Leading Sire, a peculiar horse-racing game.

- GI - Leading Sire.

- Ah, the welcoming visage of Pac-Man. - Tatsuki...

1. Truck Kyousoukyoku - This is an Art Truck Racing game, similar to Dekotora Densetsu for the PlayStation. The gameplay is very dynamic - that and the neat-looking arcade cabinet drew plenty of crowds. The BGM is Enka, an old-fashioned genre of Japanese music that remains quite popular.

- Art Truck Battle!

2. New Japan Pro Wrestling Toukon Retsuden 4 Arcade Edition - This is an arcade version of the Yuke's-developed Dreamcast wrestling game, running on the Naomi hardware. This is one of the games that uses Namco's new "Cyber Lead II" platform that can load data from the PS memory card and Dreamcast VMU.

- Riiiiiger...Riiiiiger...

3. Super World Stadium 2000 - This is the latest in Namco's famous baseball series. Although this game also uses the Cyber Lead II system, there's no Namco-developed baseball game for the Dreamcast, so the VMU slot isn't particularly useful right now. Will World Stadium reach the Dreamcast sometime soon, though?

- SWS 2000

4. World Kicks - This is a soccer game that uses a unique interface to control a soccer ball. When you shoot and pass, you have to kick the balls affixed below the cabinet. It runs on the Naomi board, but given its unique control, a Dreamcast version may not be in the cards.

- World Kicks

5. Golgo 13 - This is a sniper-type light-gun game that features the cool, collected assassin star of the legendary manga "Golgo 13" (126 comic books, 60 million copies sold in 32 years).

- Golgo 13... - Top Secret Episode!

6. Aqua Rush - This is a Tetris-style puzzle game, but the blocks you have to fit together don't come in pre-set shapes. Instead, you have to manipulate blocks of a single type in order to arrange them in advantageous patterns.

- Aqua Rush

1. Densha de Go! 3 - Not much to say here, really - it's the new version of Taito's famous train simulator. It uses the latest Taito arcade board, "Type Zero," so the graphics are much improved, but the gameplay won't confuse players of the earlier games.

- Densha de Go! 3

2. Psyvaria - [Editor's note: or at least I think that's how you spell it...] Mentioned last week, this is Taito's new vertical shooter, based around the "Buzz" system, where you have to closely dodge enemy fire in order to power up your ship.

3. Landing High Japan - Taito is now releasing a flight simulator to accompany their train simulator. Perhaps it's a tuned-up version of Jet de Go! for the PlayStation.

- One for the annals of nifty cabinets.

AOU 2000 might not have had the impact of last year's show, which saw the debut of Naomi and games like Dead or Alive 2, but it certainly had plenty to offer, especially if you're interested in more off-beat games. We look forward, as always, to all that the arcade industry has in store for us.