The Japan Amusement Expo 2017 (JAEPO) arcade game festival was held recently. Brand-new machines, which will soon be put into action, were announced and put on display one by one. We can report that three new trends were clear from these games.
■New Games, Assemble!
A few days ago, from February 10 to 12, JAEPO was held at Makuhari Messe. Massive excitement was visible among the over 75,000 people who gathered at this event, held alongside Game Party Japan 2017 (※1). What was on display were pre-sale arcade machines and crane games, goods, and related items. Among these, unique machines such as electronic money systems targeted at arcades and ball-cleaning devices for use on games were also displayed.
In keeping with JAEPO, we would like to introduce three topics which gathered special attention.
The Assembly Hall During Japan Amusement Expo 2017
■Pickup 1: Games for Kids, Women, and Beginners
Last June, the laws regulating entertainment businesses in Japan were amended, removing one section and allowing admission for those under age 16 after 6 PM if accompanied by a parent or guardian. The benefits from this change should lead to an expansion of the market, so many games aimed at a wide age range, particularly children, were on display.
“Gyo-Ten! Gappori Sushi!” (“Wrap It Up! Lots of Sushi!”), displayed by Enheart, is a roulette game themed around collecting sushi ingredients. The player bets coins on their preferred sushi ingredient, and if the ball, which sets out from the middle, lands on it, they get more coins. En route, if the ball reaches a column labeled “catch,” the whole screen becomes a sea teeming with fish, and an action game begins in which the player must catch all the fish they can. Because the game is simple and easy to understand, and can be joined and left at will, many children were playing it.
Gyo-Ten! Gappori Sushi (Enheart)
There were also child-targeted whack-a-mole games, miniature air hockey tables, and miniature go-kart games arranged in the convention hall.
Crane games were on display in similar numbers. These games naturally target a wide age range. The developers said that “Our focus was the question of how to develop new mechanisms.” Kusuno Works’ “Balloon Hopping” is a game in which prizes dangle from balloons. Players operate an arm with a small needle attached, creating heart-pounding excitement over whether or not they will be able to pop the balloon.
Balloon Hopping (Kusuno Works)
In “Shatepon!” from Mines, is a game in which players must adjust a gun to fire a bullet through a small hole. It is quite difficult, but it does fit. We played the game several times. We never won, though, sadly.
There were also the sticker machines. Many female users lined up to use FuRyu Corporation’s new machine “winc.” ※We plan to introduce this sticker machine in more detail in a later article.
winc Booth (FuRyu)
There was one machine we thought unique, though it was not a casual game.
“Magicians DEAD,” by Viking, is a fantasy action game in which the player controls a magician, but, unlike ordinary controls, this machine operates by sensing the movements of the player’s hands. Various attacks are unleashed in response to subtle movements of the player’s hands and fingers.
A bit of time is required to get accustomed to it, but operation feels intuitive, and we could sense that they were aiming to experiment with the new UI.
Magicians DEAD (Viking)
■Pickup 2: Japanese-Style eSports
The term “eSports” refers to computer and video game competitions which are treated as sporting matches. This scene is undergoing enthusiastic expansion on a global scale. Even in Japan, since about last year, excitement about them has been gradually but visibly building.
A number of games display capable of multi-player competition, displaying companies’ awareness of the eSports scene, were on display, such as Sega Interactive’s “SOUL REVERS” and Bandai Namco Entertainment’s “Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5DX PLUS.”
At present in the field of eSports, genres such as FTS (※2) and MOBA (※3), which are old stalwarts overseas, are most common, but eSports matches for genres which are popular in Japan, like music games and “medal games,” are also being held, although they are currently somewhat unusual.
There are also things which could be called “Japanese-style” eSports. While the Japanese eSports world may not get too excited about foreign games, they seem to have a lot of enthusiasm for Japanese games.
In particular, at music game competitions, one witnesses the same amazing excitement one would see at an actual concert hall.
We would like to continue giving more attention to Japanese-style eSports in the future.
In second half, we will report on the third trend we witnessed at the Expo.
Japan Amusement Expo
（※1) Game Party Japan 2017
First-Person Shooting Game
A game in which several players are divided into two teams, then each player controls a character battling for their team in real time.
>>Continuing onto the second half
(Article by: Kenichi Nakamura)
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.