25th January 2006
It's late January so we're back at the ATEI show at London's Earl's Court exhibition centre.
The show is always an important international trade event but this year it's significance was boosted because the German IMA show that traditionally takes place the week before and acts as a springboard for ATEI was cancelled.
So several products saw their world premiers here including Stern's World Poker Tour as we reported over in the Games section of Pinball News.
In this report we'll look at the other pinball-related news from the show.
Gary Stern and Joe Blackwell were in attendance with their new products. While WPT drew lots of players to the Electrocoin stand keen to sample the latest pinball, at the end of the line of flipper games was another new Stern production.
The Simpsons Crazy Carnival is a redemption game made by Stern. It features all the familiar cartoon family members and uses several toy figures that might look familiar to fans of The Simpson Pinball Party game.
The point of the game is to roll tokens down a player-aimed chute so they end up in one of the various feature holes either directly or along one of the continuously tilting ramps. Making one of the features awards various numbers of tickets and there is a combo feature where making both ramps and the centre shot scores a bonus award.
The game is all the more interesting as it was designed by Stern newcomer called Dennis Nordman.
Elsewhere at the show, several other companies were demonstrating their new pinball games.
OK, perhaps they don't have the depth of World Poker Tour but come on - haven't you ever wished the gumball machine in Twilight Zone dispensed real gumballs?
And here's someone taking their life in their hands and seriously at risk of getting a good kicking.
For some reason the Crazy Frog was being marketed all around the exhibition hall under the name "That Annoying Thing".
Passing up the obvious chance to take a pop at Virtual Pinball, TAB were showing their latest developments on the plasma screen-based game.
The Austrian company were launching their new Space Captain table to complement the existing Popstar and Pirates Of The Sea games. There are also a number of non-pinball games to play too and the games are networked using the ChampionsNet system.
Unfortunately, the platform still suffers from unacceptable flipper lag making it impossible to save some of the faster rebounds, especially after a couple of TAB's free Space Captain cocktails.
It was good to see bingo games still in attendance, even appearing in an upright electronic display format with several in-built games.
Last year we reported on Spanish company Recreativos Presas and their new video pinball based around Empire's Pro Pinball - Big Race USA. They were back this year with two machines and a second table built into the software.
We said last time how other Pro Pinball titles were a possibility and true enough here is Fantastic Journey. A big green "Change Game" button allows swapping between the simulations and makes more tables that much more likely.
Loading times are a problem but the picture quality is good and the flipper lag from last year is much reduced.
PinLED's pinball display products were on show including the 128x32 display.
Finally, this new pinball simulator from Ultracade Technologies uses Visual Pinball to recreate 10 famous Williams/Bally tables from the past. They are: Attack From Mars, Xenon, Black Knight 2000, Strikes & Spares, Pinbot, Medieval Madness, Funhouse, Fathom, F-14 Tomcat and Eight Ball Champ.
Ultracade hope to increase this to fifteen games to include The Champion Pub and The Machine - Bride of Pinbot.
The hardware consists of a PC running embedded Windows XP and driving two monitors - a traditional CRT for the playfield and an LCD monitor up top to show the backglass and scores.
It will go on test from 1st February 2006 and is expected to be ready for purchase a month or so later.
And that concludes our look at ATEI 2006. Pinball's attraction as a theme continues with the products shown above and also the video pinball payout games shown last year using CRT, LCD and plasma screen technologies.
The gaming industry also seems to be concentrating all it's development on producing bigger and flashier video-based games which is leading to talk of a player backlash in favour of actual mechanical devices.
© Pinball News 2006