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The fantasically mundane life of Wildfireskunk
ATEI gets! 
1st-Feb-2008 11:56 pm
Ah Payday.... is there any other greater day in the month? Didn't get paid as much as I thought I would (damn you tax!), but my next payday falls on minami friday. And Between January 25th and February 18th (24 days) I'm working 21 of them! I think I'm gonna be hitting the dealers room pretty hard this year! Probably still not the bar though as it's just not value for money :( *plans to buy skittles in a bit... lots of skittles...* MOSEY! Giveth me some bank account details and you will get Minamicon room money gets! Any confirmingation from Paal yet? Orgies always need to stick to the formula M = F+1 to work perfectly!

And Mike, how are you getting to 'nami? I'll be taking the train from here I rekons, since it drops you out just behind the hotel (and I won't need to take the hand-destroying walk from the ferry like you did last time ;p). You're free to come and stay the night before and come with, or even a few nights before. I have the whole week off!

Attention all UK DDR Players!

DDR:UK Championship information is up on DDR:UK as of the other day. That's updated rules, seeding song to be used, and locations and dates of the qualifiers! The actual venues will be announced in a few more days, I'm just sorting those out at the moment. Any questions about it can be asked here, or more ideally on the forums :)

On a somewhat DDR related subject, ATEI was on the other week and I attended that with the other DDR:UK staffages. For those of you not in the know, ATEI is one of the worlds largest and most popular trade shows for arcades. Held in Earls Court over 3 days, the place was packed to bursting full of new games, pushers, and redemption machines on the top floor, and a few casinos worth of gambling machines (touchscreen terminals, video slots, normal slots, roulette, cards, etc etc) on the bottom floor.

We were there mainly to talk to Konami about various DDR related things, but having an interest for all things arcade I spent a lot of the time checking out new video slots, and putting thousands of £££ per spin on the big roulette tables! It was good because it means I don't have to waste my own real money on my minor urges to play roulette! Silly FOTs.

That wasn't all that was there though. Lots of musical non-DDR games were on show around the place. Here's a run around of the lot!


Drum Mania and Guitar Freaks were on display at the Konami stand. Fully functional, with session mode and e-amuse activated! Got me my e-amuse card and had fun trying Guitar Freaks. As a seasoned Guitar Hero player I'll say that it felt a lot different than the game I'm used to. The actual guitar is a lot bigger and more weighty - which is a good thing! The neck is about twice as thick as the GH one though, which made my wrist ache after a while of just holding it. And although it only has 3 fret buttons they're a lot bigger, and a lot further apart. Holding all 3 of them almost feels like getting a GYO hold on GH! The stum bar feels a lot heavier and more sluggish, and it doesn't click when you strum to the top and bottom like the GH ones does, which I found made it a lot harder to time on fast things like Misirlou (yes, it's on GF too). Also, there were no hammer ons or pull offs, so you weren't allowed to be holding any that weren't meant to be pressed whilst strumming. That made things difficult for a while as I was often holding GR whilst trying to strum only R, and it wasn't giving it to me like it would on GH. Still, the songlist was very impressive and diverse, ranging from the usual upbeat Bemani stuff, to some rather heavy shouty metal song I played a few times. I missed exactly how many songs were on it but it looked to be on the upside of 100, with a good 20 licenses from over here and a lot of other bemani crossovers. The difficulty curve is also nice and easy to gauge, and with songs rated between 1 and 100 in difficulty it's not hard to find something that suits your skill. Alas, I didn't get to play Drum Mania there since it always seemed to be in use, but if it's anything like the home version (being an AC it'd better be!) I'm sure it will be good fun. Even if hitting a plastic and rubber drum pad is nothing like hitting a real drum, but Still. I hope a lot of arcades over here look into getting these games. With Guitar Hero as popular as it is in the mainstream nowadays I think Guitar Freaks has a very very good chance of being snapped up by arcades that are on the prowl though.

8/10 - I'm basing this only on Guitar Freaks as I didn't try Drum Mania. With Session Mode working as advertised, E-amuse active in all the arcades, and UK arcaders snapping this up in the hope it could be the next Guitar Hero, I think this would be a very very stong release.

Both machines in their glory!

Me rocking out on Guitar Freaks

Drum Mania. Not looking quite as swank as Drum Station

Multi Dance Stage

On the other side of the centre we stumbled across a large stand by a company called 'Different Play'. We were instantly drawn to this one when we saw they had a projection on the wall of... Stepmania! Lining the floor were 5 wired metal mats, all linked up to a computer behind the projector screen. Can you see where I'm going here? Basically this company said they were an American company, who had created this multistage dance game and after success over in the states thought they'd try and bring it to the european market. Right, that does sound rather a lot like Postitive Gamings one to me, but I thought I'd give it a go and see what I thought.

Multimat system!

When I said stepmania, I wasn't kidding. They've not even reskinned it, and in the promo video they gave us a couple of songs didn't have banners so you know what came up? That's right, the default STEPMANIA one. Stepmania 3.0 that is. The pads for the game were appauling in quality. If you're playing a game that requires accuracy of hitting pads, then you'd think being able to have some awareness of where the pads were would be essential right? Well, their pads had a single plastic tile covering the entire mat. Basically a large plexiplastic square with some sensors underneath somewhere, meaning there's no way you can tell where you have to hit with your feet. Carpet mode is more fun, seriously. On top of that, the arrows never disappeared even if you get them, and there's no clue as to your accuracy as you don't get a grade flash up. And there's no lifebars. The only way to tell you've been put out of your misery is to notice you're now only getting 5 points for every step you hit. So I stopped playing that and went to question them, covert camera at the ready! Songlist you say? Well some of the songs included on the game (not on the full version that people get apparently, only here because they have 'Exhibition Licenses' to these songs) are as follows...

Destiny - Smiley
Csikos Post - The PIU Song
Disconnected HaZaRD - DM Ashura
Finished Symphony - Hybrid
MAX Forever - DM Ashura
MaxX AttaxX - DM Ashura
MaxX WipEout - W1p3out
NeoMax - DM Ashura
Noone Knows My Plan - They Might Be Giants
Omega - DM Ashura vs Someone
Rice and Curry - Dr Bombay
Take Me Back - KaW
Zodiac - Banzai

Nice of DM Ashura to grant them those songs for use on their product! They've done a good job acquiring their rights for so many songs. Alas, it doesn't save them. Whilst scrolling through their songwheel I noticed there were no difficulty ratings, nor any seeming way to change the difficulty. Asking them if there was anyway to see how hard the songs were she said "No, you have to know. But I could write it down if you wanted it when you buy". Helpful! Although they did offer to create easier/harder steps for each of the songs "With additional charge".

Alas, it doesn't help. They are charging extortionate amounts for something you can get a million times better at half the price. In fairness to the staff they seemed like nice people, and they had been showing their system off a lot in schools and other places to get kids to play, but it doesn't stop it from just being crap. I'll upload the video I got at some point to youtube.

Is dat sum Stepmania?

1/10 - The point is for having a couple of good songs on the songlist (with dubious legality). For actual entertainment though I'd rather stamp on kitchen tiles to the sound of my phone.

Drum Station

Vogos... never heard of them. Nice art though!

The setup looks really nice with the real drums. Useful second bar too!

Downstairs there was 'Drum Station', which is a game that I don't think anyone knew about before seeing it here. By an almost unknown company called VOGOS, this was obviously a drum based music game long the lines of Drum Mania. The big catch though is that instead of using the rubber and plastic drum pads like Konami do, they had real drums and cymbals in the cabinet! The game has had some level of Andemiro involvement (they're the company who are responsable for the Pump it Up series) too as there were 20 Pump it Up original songs on the machine. The rest o fthe 40-strong songlist is taken up by K-Rock and K-Pop, and a little popular western music (It's My Life by Bon Jovi! What a win!). It's a very very good looking machine for sure, and I imagine those who like it will play it a lot. But I will say it looks a little intimidating having a real drum kit in the machine, and I imagine that will put a lot of people off of playing it. Especially if they see someone good at the game playing first. Plus, since it's real drums with real skins, over in our chav-infested country I'd rekon there's a much higher chance of them being vandelised. It's not that hard for some twat to come in with a penknife and cut the skin of a drum... Still! I'm going to be keeping my eyes for this game :)

7/10 - A very very good idea for a game, and seems to be pulled off well. But the songlist is a little short at only 40 songs, and I can't see it drawing in casual arcade gamers due to the low western song count.

Pump it up Pro

This was the main machine that all of the non-company owning rhythm game fans were making up VAT numbers to get in and see. The brainchild of ex-Roxor employee Kyle Ward (who was there for the 3 days demo-ing it and meeting the UK community) and a large part of the original In The Groove team, using their connections gained with Andemiro during In The Groove 2 they've managed to gain use of the Pump it up name to continue their music game career. Being how Pump and In The Groove are very very different kinds of game, there was a lot of negative speculation form the community whilst this was in production. Pump have never been a hardcare scoring game like In The Groove has been, and they were afraid that Kyle and his entourage were out to basically make a 5-panelled version of In The Groove. So how was it in testing?

Pump it up Pro

I will happily go out there and say that all this negative speculation (that I was even beginning to buy into) was for nothing. The first thing you'll notice when you see the cabinet is it has buttons on the front! One of them helpfully labelled 'options', and the other 2 being selection arrows. The menu screens show all of the difficulties the song has as you scroll through, and like In The Groove you can select your sorting method if you wish to find specific songs faster. The default game noteskin is the same as In The Groove in that 4ths are Red, 8ths Blue, 16ths Yellow, etc etc. Although offputting for people who are used to Pump (why is anything but the middle step blue? :( ), it's easily changable, and helpful for those who are moving over from 4panel, or just haven't played before. Overall, the game is a lot more helpful and user friendly than your average Pump machine, which is a good thing since I remember it took me about a year to find out what the speed mod code on my local was, and even then I got it wrong occasionally. The options menu has all of the usual speed mods, new noteskins ranging from classic PIU to the amusing 'Xuxa' noteskin, most of the effects mod from ITG, and of course accelerando. The latter one makes the rate of the song change depenant on how you're doing. Do well and the song will slowly speed up to a maximum of 1.7x rate, but if you start to fail it'll slow back down to normal. Of course, another thing you'll be fast to notice is the grading system. Above 'Perfect' is a new grade - 'Superb'. The timing for it is no-where near as harsh as 'Fantastic' on ITG, and feels a lot more like 'Excellent' timing did. When the song is over you're brought to the results screen and shown you score in a %, as well as step breakdown. There is no graph though, and no 'Full superb Combo' awards or anything like that. It's got a competetive scoring system, but it's not bigging it up in the same way it was on ITG.

The game is housed in the FX cabinet (the some one as PIU NX was housed in) and as such takes advantage of the nice HD screen. It doesn't take up too much space but has enough little lights and flashy bits to make it stand out to anyone looking at it. When you scroll through the songlist you'll see that they haven't filled the game up with ITG songs at the expense of classic PIU songs. 12 ITG songs have been ported over (Energizer, Summer ~speedy mix~, Oasis, ! (bang), Zodiac, Take me Back, Xuxa, Anubis, Funk Factory, and 2 others), and from then on the machine is a host to a lot of good PIU songs ranging from Premiere to NX. We had a chat to Kyle about it and he revealed that he's been a PIU fan for many many years, and made sure that a large range of both speeder and freestyle songs were added to the machine to please everyone. The steps for the ITG crossovers aren't just the ITG steps put on 5 arrow (in every case). Some are very similar in where the steps are placed (to make it easier for 4 panel players to make the transition on songs they're familiar with), but a few of them have been filled with interesting PIU style turny steps, 3's, and all the other things PIU players enjoy.

Admire the lovely lovely looking screen....

There is no world tour mode or mission mode like there has been in PIU mixes, but that again is to bring in a more sense of simplicity for people who are new to the game. In their place are the traditional courses from ITG, strange mod combinations and all. I'll tell you, split is a lot easier to read on PIU for some strange reason.

9/10 - A good machine in a good cabinet with a great selection of songs created for a good reason. Kyle has stated that this should been seen as a 'sister series' to PIU rather than a new mix, and I don't see any reason why this won't do what is asked of it and bring a lot of the old 4panel community into PIU. Whether that's a good thing for PIU players though, is for them to decide...

Here's Kyle showing off the new machine. What a man!

Wow.... long entry. And now I'm hungry, so mI'll say this is the end! ...for now! *cackle*
2nd-Feb-2008 01:39 am (UTC)
Was planning to take the ferry on the Friday, but I'd much prefer this!

I'm still not sure which weeks I have off, but I can at least come on the Thursday evening, come back from Minamicon on the Sunday and leave Monday evening.

If that made any kind of sense. :/
2nd-Feb-2008 02:07 am (UTC)
That does! Would be imba tbh. Better than killing your hands and me being bored on the train there :p
2nd-Feb-2008 02:03 am (UTC)
So Pump It Up Simulator is a no-show but another pikey dancegame comes along in its absence! You should've asked Mr. Ward himself if he was aware of his songs being on there. ;)
2nd-Feb-2008 02:09 am (UTC)
I know! I only thought of that when we got back on the last day. It's because I didn't see him on the day I saw the 'Multiplay dance stage'. I was hoping to see Viennacore on it tbh, or Cillit bang XD

Still, may email Mr Ashura and see how much they paid him for them licenses they had ;p
2nd-Feb-2008 11:11 am (UTC)
What bank details exactly do you need? Account no, sort code, my full name?

Lemme know and I'll email them to you - it'll get swallowed by the black hole of my accoutn though >_<

And yeah, Paal is confirmio - thankfully. So it's me, you, paal, gainax, and coz. In this orgy formula, what is it? M = male, F = female? O_o cause right now we are 3m+2f....
2nd-Feb-2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
I needs those ones exactly, yush! MSN me them or something and I cat do it INSTANTLY

M and F are indeed those! Thus meaning we are currently adhering to said forumla. M = F+1 thus goes 3 = 2 + 1, which is correct! Maybe I should have used brackets or something >.
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