video arcade game 

The Next Billion Dollar Videogame Opportunity';//-->

While the majority of video game purchases are made at retail, digital distribution is quickly emerging as a significant force in the industry. Whether it's full fledged PC games, casual titles, or downloadable content and Arcade titles through Xbox Live, more and more gamers are making use of digital distribution.

In fact, while digital distribution is generally considered a nice complement to the retail model today, it could one day potentially replace retail as the main way people purchase their games. Bill Gates has said multiple times that all the hype concerning the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray won't matter in the long run because all content will be online. And more recently, SCE president Ken Kutaragi expressed a similar sentiment, noting that Apple has been successful with its e-distribution and that it's time for Sony to make a move as well.

So is this really the next billon dollar opportunity in the gaming industry? Stewart Alsop and Gilman Louie (who founded Spectrum Holobyte), of the investment firm Alsop Louie Partners, believe it is. The duo will be presenting a keynote on the subject at Strategic Research Institute's 2nd Annual Video Game Investor Conference, which takes place June 22-23 at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, CA.

GameDaily BIZ recently caught up with Alsop to get a preview of the keynote and to find out what all the hubbub is about.

"We believe the change to digital presents the next billion dollar opportunity. Ironically, even though video games are inherently digital... the video game industry is stuck in what I call analog distribution. You have to encode it on a CD/DVD, put it in a jewel case and ship it physically to the store distribution system," Alsop began. "So we believe that once the video game business writes their games and delivers them to people through the Internet and through digital distribution systems, that the character of the business will be dramatically different, and that's what presents the opportunity to build a new billion dollar company."

"Whether it happens next year or ten years from now, that's the process we're involved in right now," he added.

And new is a keyword for Alsop, as his firm specializes in funding start-ups, unlike other firms like Elevation Partners, which have invested heavily in existing companies, such as Pandemic and BioWare.

Conceivably, the next round of video game consoles (or perhaps the round after that) may not even be disc media based at all. Maybe a "console" will become the equivalent of a cable or set-top box. Sony's Kutaragi believes the change will happen very quickly, and that within a couple years optical drives could become obsolete. He told Japanese site PC Impress Watch, "I expect even the hard disk to disappear eventually. If you have all the data on servers, you probably no longer need disk drives... but to do this, the server is crucial. It's a difficult problem."


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Video Game Tester

"Nacho Libre" Slamming Down The DS

'We're proud to announce the first Nintendo DS wrestling game for the US and European markets,' said Ken Gold , vice president of Marketing, Majesco Entertainment. ' Nacho Libre is the perfect movie to translate into a handheld experience and our game captures all of the humorous wrestling action from the film.'

Nacho Libre, opening in theaters on June 16 , stars Jack Black as Ignacio (Nacho), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage who moonlights as a Lucha Libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans in this comedy from the creators of 'Napoleon Dynamite' and the writer of 'The School of Rock.'

In Majesco's Nacho Libre game , players can play as Nacho or more than 10 other luchadors, all with their own unique abilities. The game also features a range of over-the-top wrestling attacks, four play modes, themed Touch Screen mini-games, 4 player wireless matches and numerous arenas from the movie in which players can battle to be the ultimate Luchador.

Developed by Budcat Creations, Nacho Libre will be available in October for a suggested retail price of $29.99. More information can be found online at .

Paramount Pictures presents a Nickelodeon Movies/Black & White production of a Jared Hess film, Nacho Libre , starring Jack Black. The film also stars Ana de la Reguera, H'ctor Jim'nez, Richard Montoya, and Peter Stormare, and is directed by Jared Hess. The screenplay is written by Jared Hess & Jerusha Hess & Mike White. Nacho Libre is produced by Mike White, Jack Black, Julia Pistor, and David Klawans. The executive producer is Steve Nicolaides.

About Majesco Entertainment Company

Headquartered in Edison, NJ, Majesco Entertainment Company (NASDAQ: COOL) is an innovative provider of digital entertainment products and content, with a focus on publishing videogames for leading portable systems such as the PSP? (PlayStation ? Portable) system, Nintendo DS? and Game Boy? Advance.Current product line highlights include Age of Empires: The Age of Kings? for the Nintendo DS?, Guilty Gear Judgment for the PSP? (PlayStation? Portable) system and JAWS? Unleashed; as well as digital entertainment products like Frogger? TV Arcade. Majesco now offers Game Boy? Advance Video versions of the beloved DreamWorks Animation movies Shrek, Shrek 2 and Shark Tale. More information about Majesco can be found online at
Video Game Tester

A gym just their size

When Brady Iba's mother told him she wanted him to join a gym for kids, he had some serious reservations.

But when he walked into the Energym in Southlake Town Square, those worries were quickly replaced with "wows."

"I'd been to a couple of other gyms before, but I felt intimidated because there were all these adults who were really fit," said the Fort Worth 13-year-old. "Then I came here and I took a look around and I was like, 'Cool, it's like an arcade.' Plus, I didn't feel intimidated because here, everyone's my age."

Energym, the brainchild of Colleyville residents Kevin and Suzanne Bolden, pairs high-tech toys with exercise equipment in a kid-friendly environment where youngsters can get their bodies moving without even realizing it.

"It really is a perfect marriage," said Mr. Bolden, a former "software guy."

"Basically, these are just games that require you to move to make them work," he said. "It's something kids like to do, and it's good for them."

The Boldens had always dreamed of creating a business that would provide better fitness alternatives for children, but it didn't come into focus until they realized that there was emerging technology that could capture both a child's interest and activity.

"He's working out, and he doesn't even know it," said Mr. Bolden, gesturing to a boy who was pedaling furiously on a stationary bike linked to a video racing game. "The faster he pedals, the faster the car on the screen goes. He's exercising, but he just thinks he's playing a video game."

That interactive concept prevails throughout Energym, which is designed for 6- to 14-year-olds. There are 22 pieces of equipment that incorporate gaming to give youngsters a cardio workout while improving their strength, agility, reflexes, cognitive skills and endurance.

"Most of these games are games you would have at home, but our equipment is designed to integrate a fitness program into the video game," explained Mr. Bolden, 35. "These games require you to work out. At home, the most workout they would get is in their thumbs."

Darrell Myatt of Keller said the gym is a big hit with his three children 'C ages 6, 10 and 12.

"Kids need something like this with their lifestyle nowadays of just sitting around watching TV and playing video games," Mr. Myatt said. "Plus, it's fun. My kids love it."

In addition to the gym equipment, one-on-one training and small group classes such as yoga and a confidence-building class for children with special needs also are available.

Although Energym has been open for only a few weeks, interest is high, and the Boldens are working to make sure they remain on the cutting edge.

"We're really ahead of the curve here," Mr. Bolden said. "There's nothing else like this out there right now."

Veronica Villegas is a Fort Worth-based freelance writer.

River Myatt, 6, of Keller races his father, Darrell Myatt, on stationary bikes connected to a video game at Energym. The Southlake gym is designed to give children 6 to 14 a cardio workout while improving strength, agility and endurance.

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Video Game Tester

A Kung Fu Family Feud


Client: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Creative Agency: Fuel Industries


Fuel Industries was challenged by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to create a viral experience to promote the launch of the American Dad Season One DVD Collection. While both Family Guy and American Dad were created by Seth MacFarlane, American Dad, being much newer, did not have as large a fan base. Our challenge was to develop an experience that would appeal to fans of both series, and to create a halo effect around American Dad that would lend some of the Family Guy magic to DVD sales. They key was to develop something that was guaranteed to "go viral" within the fan base.

The game had to appeal to hardcore fans, but also had to be funny enough to appeal to causal fans and fit into pop culture. Beyond vomiting, Godzilla references and decapitation, it needed that extra "you've got to be kidding me" surprise that would get people talking-- which, courtesy of Capcom USA, became the boss-level Ryu, from the classic arcade game "Street Fighter." Not only do you battle Ryu, you do so against a background taken directly from "Street Fighter II."

The challenge with any of these projects is to reconcile our ideas with the time and budget resources we have to work with. We will be adding more characters to keep people coming back. We had 1,000,000 hits in the first two weeks, averaging more than 11 minutes each, which works out to over twenty years of interaction time so far.

-- Mike Burns, CEO and chief creative officer, Fuel Industries


I know that we're all supposed to be used to this by now, but I still genuinely love that my profession often necessitates that I play video games in my office during the day. The American Dad vs. Family Guy game doesn't disappoint. The little snippets of dialogue and unique fighting styles (The Dad chugs cough syrup and throws up on his victims) kept me completely entertained, while the game itself wasn't all that bad. The two-player version brought several folks into my office to bask in the aforementioned job description that allows us ALL to play games at work.

Far from just a bit of play time for fans of the shows (I am a Family Guy fan come lately), it serves as a great introduction / teaser for both shows, their characters and the bizarre humor they share. This game sells you on the shows. I have not followed American Dad, but after this game I am going to check it out. This is made easier by the simple link to buy the DVDs of both shows (Season 1 for American Dad, Volume 3 for Family Guy).

The opening is immediately fun, the controls are simple (although it was a while before I mastered the flaming fart attack-- but that might just be me) and it rewards you with great little raunchy bits the longer you play, like the girl from American Dad defiantly flashing Peter from Family Guy in defeat.

The only complaint about this experience might come from our CEO who could be concerned about my agency's productivity taking a hit on the day we found this game.

-- David Jones, SVP, executive creative director, emerging platforms, FCB

The first thing I thought when I got to the site was, Yay, it's an American Dad / Family Guy fighting game! The idea is great, the graphics and sounds are clever-- though the gameplay itself is hard. In addition, I was frustrated that I couldn't pause the game during a fight, and that there was no help screen once I entered the arcade mode. With a better user interface, this game would be much more addictive.

Besides the gameplay problems, I thought that the game's callouts to buy the DVDs could be more prominent. I wasn't really encouraged to click on the "Buy the DVD" link. Also, a game like this is going to be passed around a lot, and the only "Send to a Friend" option I noticed was when I looked at the High Scores. I should have been able to send the link to a friend each time I was done playing a match.

All in all, the creative was wonderful. The game captures the spirit of both shows and is truly fun. But as a marketing tool, I think the calls to action could use a bit more thought.

-- Christa Imbriale, sr. project manager, Grey Interactive

Footnote: Submissions are judged by a panel of industry experts from and based on the following criteria: how the creative captures the specific customer; how it meets the brand's business needs; impact of execution; and creativity. If you would like your creative considered for Creative Showcase, send an email to

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Mastering the art of picking up new marketing technologies.

Columbia Pictures' Caines reveals how to bring a unique touch to an existing cultural phenomenon.


Selling "CARS"

Buena Vista Pictures and 65 Media drive audiences to a fun and engaging movie showroom in this week's Creative Showcase.
Video Game Tester

Bits Announces Loss, Focus Away From Games

Bill Gates Steps Back From Microsoft Role [06.16.06] Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has announced that he will begin to phase out his day-to-day responsibilities at the company, in order to concentrate on the charitable work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Column: 'Going Mobile: Nokia's New Game Plan' [06.16.06] In our latest 'Going Mobile' column, Steve Palley talks to Nokia's Gregg Sauter about the future of the company's mobile game strategy, revealing the timetable for the company's next-gen relaunch of its cellphone game infrastructure, and new "game optimized devices" from Nokia to play games on.
Video Game Tester

"Magnetica" Releases Next Week

"Magnetica is the perfect game to kick off our new Touch Generations brand of casual games," says George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. "It's a game that anyone can pick up and play, whether for a few minutes or a few hours."

Magnetica is the hand-held version of the popular arcade game Puzz Loop, with a few twists that could only be possible using the abilities of Nintendo DS. Players use the touch screen to flick marbles one by one at an ever-growing spiral chain of marbles. Like-colored marbles attract one another. Whenever three marbles of the same color connect, they vanish, sometimes setting off massive chain reactions.

In single-player modes, players can find bonus items that can slow or stop time, or even reverse the course of the marbles. Challenge mode features 99 levels on four difficulty settings, Quest mode offers players a variety of missions and Puzzle mode requires players to eliminate all marbles on the screen using a limited supply of their own. Players must deal with marble-stymieing obstacles like wind, water, switches and multiple launchers. In the two-player Versus mode, players can frustrate their opponents with an array of diabolical weapons: Ion Clouds create smoke screens, Recoils block an opponent's marbles, Black Holes devour marbles and Gravitons alter the path of launched marbles.

For more information about Magnetica, visit

The new Touch Generations brand includes titles like Magnetica that anyone can pick up and play, even with little or no experience with video games. It represents one of the many ways that Nintendo is making it easy for new demographics of people to be introduced to video games.

The worldwide innovator in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its Nintendo DS?, Game Boy? Advance and Nintendo GameCube? systems, and upcoming Wii? console. Since 1983, Nintendo has sold nearly 2.2 billion video games and more than 375 million hardware units globally, and has created industry icons like Mario?, Donkey Kong?, Metroid?, Zelda? and Pok'mon?. A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo's operations in the Western Hemisphere. For more information about Nintendo, visit the company's Web site at
Video Game Tester

and Why You May 'Need' One!

OK, don't worry, this is RetroBlast, I'm not talking about real guns...I'm talking about arcade SuperGuns.

Never heard of them? Well then I'm sure you're about to embark on an exciting new journey with me as you're most likely going to want one by the time you finish reading this!

What is a Supergun?

According to Wikipedia's definition a SuperGun is:

"... a mini-arcade system, usually used for home use on a television (like a home console system). A SuperGun contains the inner workings of a standard arcade videogame cabinet inside a small plastic or metal box. A SuperGun plugs in a JAMMA board and usually has several outputs (such as composite video, s-video and rgb) to a television or monitor.'

Starting to get the idea? Yep, it's essentially the heart of a real arcade cabinet for use in your home. With one of these, you can literally plug/play most real arcade Jamma boards into the SuperGun allowing for you to use the original arcade hardware in your own living room on your TV.

What does JAMMA have to do with this?

For those of you who aren't familiar with JAMMA -- the JAMMA wiring standard was introduced in the mid-1980s and was designed so that Arcade cabinets wired to the JAMMA standard can be made to play just about any game (essentially becoming plug/play for arcade operators).

In the past, just about all components were custom built for each arcade game (ex. Atari's wiring harness, boards, power etc. wouldn't be plug/play compatible with Nintendo's). The advantage of Jamma for operators was that cabs could be cleaned out, a new PCB plugged into the Jamma wiring, new art installed etc. and voila!...a brand new game ready to eat up your quarters.

Again from Wikipedia:

JAMMA is an acronym, standing for Japanese Amusement Machine Manufacturers' Association. This term represents three different things: a trade association, a trade show in Japan and a wiring standard for arcade machines.

The standard wiring harness allowed for two eight-way joysticks and up to three buttons per player. There were slight variations throughout the years (I'll get into that later) that were called Jamma+ or Super Jamma, but essentially except for a few minor changes'.Jamma PCB's are essentially 100% compatible with any Jamma wired cab.

Ok, back to the topic

Have I peaked your interested yet?

By now you can see some of the appeal of what a SuperGun can do. If you're like me, by now you've probably been playing with Mame? for a while, or tried out an Xbox, PS2 (or other console) version of an arcade classic. But haven't you always wondered what exactly a real piece of arcade hardware looks and feels like? Is the emulated version in Mame? or other emulator really dead on?

Those questions are personally what led me to my purchase of a Great Western brand SuperGun and most recently to a MAS SuperNOVA.

I presently own 2 Mame? cabinets running just about every game I could ever want; but the idea of having the actual hardware and trying it out at home fascinated me.

The Great Western SuperGun is one of the few that are readily available here easily in the United States. If you do some searching on the web you'll find actually a lot of SuperGun variations in Japan and in the UK. There's even a Sega branded one called the 'Blast City' that is considered by many to be the 'Rolls Royce' of the SuperGun world.

On average you can expect to pay between $300. to as much as a $1000. or more on a high end SuperGun.

I have come across a few websites that show how you can build your own as apparently, it's not terribly difficult, but I was fortunate enough to come across mine for a reasonable price and decided to buy vs. build.

All right, you're now convinced you're going to buy a SuperGun but which one? I don't own any of the import models but as stated above I do the two that are available domestically here in the U.S.

Below are my thoughts and impressions...

GW Trading - GW SuperGun

Great Western Supergun

Some of the features include:

Arcade controllers for player 1 and player 2

Main Control box

Jamma edge connector

Separate Sound outlets for stereo sound.

Totally compatible with Naomi, jamma plus and for Neo Geo there is no need for any modification nor any feature connector for 4th button is required.

Test button added for Diagnostic check for game board/PCB

Choice of RGB and Sync connections for Arcade monitor using RCA connectors

Options of adjusting sync comes with control pot/knob

Easy access to adjustable power supply. (Voltages can be increased or decreased)

Micro Exhaust Fan is provided in the main console

S video

Options Switch is provided for NTSC (USA) & PAL for Europe/Asia customers.

Color Saturation control

Great Western SuperGun Slideshow

How well does it work?

Video - Overall the GW SuperGun works exactly as promised. I have tried it out using composite standard RCA video out but the picture quality is passable at best. In order to get the best video out of it you really must use a TV with S Video. The quality is significantly better and very noticeable. I have read on various sites that this is a typical problem with SuperGuns in general, but I can't say for sure if that is true. But connecting any of these SuperGuns are super easy to do via standard Svideo and standard RCA audio jacks to your TV.

Sound - The sound is actually quite good and sounds great through my home stereo. I have always really enjoyed the music from Metal Slug and you can be assured you'll hear every gun blast clear as a bell.

Build - The initial appearance is one of quality. But, if you look closely (see photos) you'll see some minor physical imperfections. It really looks a lot more like a product built by a very handy amateur than a professionally built item in my opinion.

While this is truly a nitpick, it overall feels fairly solid and substantial.

Joysticks - Personally I don't care for them very much. It uses a brand of joystick and buttons that I don't recognize (they're not marked). If you have some basic soldering skills or wire crimping skills you can easily swap out the joys/buttons. I personally tried switching out the joystick with a Happs Super but the depth of the stick was just a hair too big for the box that the controller was built into. A router would could fix that problem if you wish to update the stick. Or of course a shorter stick like a candy cab Sanwa would be perfect and an easy fit.

Again, the controls work perfectly, but I found both the buttons and joystick to be a bit stiff for my taste. The joystick controller box itself is sturdily built and feels good when using it on a table or in your lap.

Hooking it up - Easy stuff. Everything is marked and even if it weren't it's all really obvious. The main control box has some additional settings so that you can tweak the VSync and color pots to your liking.

I have discovered that I need to slightly adjust these in particular when switching from my NEO JEO MVS 1 slot and my Sega ST-V boards. The VSync and colors are always just slightly off when I switch the boards.

I only have a few real Jamma boards and again, these all seem to require some minor tweaking as well.


Approx. street cost - $299 to $395 depending on the upgrades.

Overall Thoughts?

I find the micro fan to be a bit noisy, but most people feel their PC fan is fairly noisy so it's hard to fault the micro fan. When you're playing a game I can assure you, you won't notice the sound of the fan much, but I would have preferred a slightly larger less noisy one.

The power supply is very similar to a standard Happ power supply for arcade machines that works well and is adjustable in the event you have a board that needs more power.

Overall, the GW SuperGun is a solid choice and perfect for getting your feet wet if you want to dive into the world of SuperGuns.

It does exactly what it promises, it's easy to use, and works exactly as it's supposed to.

I would love to see better buttons/joys used from the get go. I would have even have preferred XArcade joys/buttons in this unit over what they've installed. But, again, that's my personal preference. The sticks are responsive and do what they're supposed to.
Video Game Tester

Gamers unite in anticipation of Nintendo, PS upgrades

Video gamers who talk only of high scores and magic points have something new to obsess about this summer.

PlayStation and Nintendo are about to answer Microsoft's Xbox 360 with their own next-gen consoles. The big three boost their platforms only once every five or so years, so it's worth hitting the pause button to ponder the effect of better graphics, more games and cool gadgets.

Briana Wohlart, 18, is eyeing the Nintendo Wii, pronounced "we."

"I'm definitely going to be saving for it," the Lansing gamer said. "I've always been a Nintendo freak."

Adding to the hype are the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo - or E3 - in Los Angeles and the fact that, for weeks, players have been encouraged to reserve copies of next-gen games, such as "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for Nintendo.

The system doesn't launch until October at the earliest, but E3 gave gamers a taste of Wii's motion- sensitive game controller, which has the potential to make gaming physical.

Lansing brothers John and Marc Turner, ages 15 and 11, respectively, are holding out hope for a PlayStation 3. Marc is convinced his mother will pay the $499 base price for one. John isn't so sure.

Gamers are a diverse group. There are hard-core Xboxers, who don't care what Nintendo or PlayStation do. There are avid PSers, who are still snapping up PS2 games, even though the PS3 is due Nov. 17. And there are Nintendo-ites, who revere Mario and Zelda the way their grandparents did Donald and Mickey.

Many gamers, though, own consoles from two of the three makers. Their purchasing decisions often are driven by a desire to play a particular game, say "Halo 2" for Xbox 360, or by the promise of high- powered graphics, or by cost.

Much of the talk is about the latter.

"The buzz is about the price," said Joe Wuorinen, co-owner of Live Wire Games gaming arcade on Lake Lansing Road in Lansing Township.

Nintendo said the Wii will cost $250, significantly less than the other major consoles. The upgraded PS3 - one with a 60- gigabyte drive - will cost $599.

"I'm not forking out $600 for something," said Chris Wickham, 17, of Delta Township. "It better be guaranteed enjoyment for life."

Price is important for parents, as well.

Gamer mom Debra Iteen isn't necessarily looking forward to the release of next-gen consoles. Her 13-year-old son has an Xbox 360 and PS2, and it's only a matter of time before he's jonesing for an upgrade.

"I'm sure it will come up around Christmas, and I'm not happy about that," said Iteen, 38, of DeWitt Township.

The drive to have the latest and greatest often wins out, but in a gamer world dominated by cool graphics, cool game play and cool characters, some gamers wonder what's with Nintendo calling its system Wii.

Nintendo Co. explained that it chose it because it sounds like "we" and gets across the corporation's intention to put the console in homes everywhere.

"I could get used to it," said 19-year-old Kevin Foster of Holland. "At first I was outraged."


He imagines moms having to say: "My son sits all day in his bedroom playing with his Wii."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Christine Rook at 377-1261 or
Video Game Tester

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