9 Games Launching With The exA-Arcadia Platform

The next big thing in Arcade technology? Possibly.

exA-Arcadia

When exA-Arcadia was first announced back in February 2018, the news came as a groundbreaking surprise to much of the arcade gaming community. In a world dominated by massive dedicated cabinets that cost as much as a small car, exA promised to bring cost-effective games to a unified hardware ecosystem. Like the popular NEO-GEO before it, exA-Arcadia allow operators to run four titles in one cabinet with a plug-and-play cartridge system, intended to conserve floor space and expense and give players more options.

And now, a year since its reveal, it seems exA-Arcadia is still fairly enticing. More features have been confirmed — including a card/smartphone system to save player stats and progress and Twitch streaming support — and an interesting library of games have been announced so far. We saw even more titles, too, in January during the 2019 Japan Amusement Expo (JAEPO). With the platform, according to exA, seeing a worldwide release “before summer 2019,” there’s a lot to anticipate. In the meantime, this overview of 9 titles launching with the exA-Arcadia platform should do the trick.

 

1. Aka & Blue: Type-R

Developed by Japanese studio Tanoshimasu, Aka & Blue: Type R is an updated re-release of Aka & Blue, a vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up (shmup) initially released in 2017 for iOS and Android. The game tasks players with “[gliding] with silky smooth controls through a sea of bullets” and “[slashing] through the bullet rain,” which seems fairly standard for a shmup of this nature. Aka & Blue is going for action, for intensity, and for quality. As the first title announced for the platform last year, it really did make its mark.

From what I’ve seen, Aka & Blue looks tough-as-nails and super fun. The best part? Worldwide audiences will finally get to experience a modern Japanese shmup in a true arcade format. Although the game has been available on mobile devices for quite some time and a Nintendo Switch port is reportedly in the works, the exA release will differentiate itself through exclusive content. Shoot-em-ups were designed for the arcade environment, and I’m super interested in how Aka & Blue will make the transition to coin-op later this year.

 

2. The Kung-Fu Vs. Karate Champ

The Kung Fu vs. Karate Champ is an updated port of Shaolin vs. Wutang, a Steam Early Access title released in May 2016. Developed by American studio Jae-Lee Productions, this one-on-one fighting game is billed as a “love letter to martial arts and classic kung-fu films.” Described on the exA-Arcadia website as an experience for “casual and hardcore fighting game fans alike,” the title should hopefully serve as both a party game and semi-competitive fighter, depending on how you play it. And considering the impeccable attention to detail, it truly should be a delight for kung-fu fans.

The Kung Fu vs. Karate Champ will be the first fighting games to officially grace arcades outside of Japan in many years. And luckily for us, it looks to be a pretty solid one. Translating multiple martial arts fighting styles to gameplay is sure to make for a more “realistic” combat experience, and while we don’t yet know what it will be, we do know that the exA release will feature arcade-exclusive content. One-on-one fighters aren’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s impossible to ignore their popularity just the same. Hopefully, The Kung Fu vs. Karate Champ will prove to be a worthwhile launch title.

 

3. Super Hydorah AC

Super Hydorah AC is a non-linear, horizontal shoot-em-up from Spanish development teams Locomalito and Ablight Studios that promises a “challenging experience” in vein of classics like Darius. The title has been available on Steam since September 2017, but it’ll be pretty great to face the menace of the Meroptians in arcades, too. Shmups are, again, perfect matches for the arcade atmosphere, and with Super Hydorah, you’ll surely need impeccable skill (and a plenty of luck) to make each credit count.

According to Ablight’s website, this new edition will feature “rebalancing of the difficulty for the most experienced players, non-stop action,” and an “instant two-player mode,” in which “any player can join a game in progress at any time.” Based on the artistically deliberate scanlines, the game’s horizontal orientation, and its general appearance, those Darius inspirations aren’t far off the mark. And if you’re not as enamored by playfields filled to the brim with bullets, this may be a solid option when the exA drops.

 

4. Infinos EXA

Developed by Picorinne Soft, Infinos EXA is an updated re-release of the 2018 Steam title Infinos Gaiden. Infinos is a 90’s arcade-style side-scrolling shmup that also takes at least some influence from the Darius lineage. It’ll certainly be a delight to envelop ourselves in the awesome soundtrack and subdue all seven stages on an actual arcade cabinet later this year. The Steam listing promises that “The feeling of 90’s arcade shooter will come again!!” Coin-play, I’m sure, will only further enhance that essence.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to draw some comparisons between Infinos EXA and Super Hydorah AC. Both are very much inspired by the shooters of the past in every facet of their design, from gameplay to graphics and everything in between. However, both titles are unique and will provide their own experiences. Infinos EXA is simply another opportunity for classic shooter fans to get their fill.

 

5. Akyrios Exa

Akyrios, like a large chunk of exA’s lineup, is a vertically-oriented shoot-em-up. Developed by Paragon with sound design by Blankfield, the title boasts “futuristic visuals” and “rocking tunes” that enhance modern shooting gameplay to create an exciting experience. Even with the plethora of shooters on the platform, there’s nothing wrong with more fun, and I must admit, Akyrios Exa looks pretty cool.

The “modern shooting” experience is realized through screens filled to the brim with bullets to narrowly glide through. To keep things interesting, players are rewarded with bonus points for grazing through bullets, incentivizing risky play and encouraging score-chasing. Overall, it looks to be a slick experience (even if we’ve mostly just seen screenshots at this point).

 

6. Cosmic Digger (Heiankyo Alien) 3671

Compared to the other games on this list, Cosmic Digger is a bit curious. Developed by Mindware, this piece is described as a “psychedelic take on retro games of yesteryear.” This four-player, labyrinth-crawling experience tasks players with digging holes to trap aliens, each contender competing for the highest score. Interestingly enough, Cosmic Digger 3671 is a reimagining of the relatively obscure 1979 PC-8001 release Heiankyo Alien.

This was certainly an unique title to bring back. Making matters even more intriguing, the exA website states that “Only one print run will ever be made,” meaning arcade operators and collectors will have to snatch up cartridges or be left only with the Steam digital version. While I can’t say I’m familiar with the original Heiankyo Alien, I’m curious to see how fun the four-player frenzy will be.

 

7. Strania EX

Strania EX is, yes, another shoot-em-up. However, it’s one that looks really solid in all facets of its design. Developed by G.Rev, the game “throws players into the frontlines of an intergalactic war featuring non-stop action with gigantic mechs battling for the survival of humanity.” It’s a horizontal shooter with explosive combat, high stakes, and gorgeous presentation. Plus, it comes from the minds behind Ikaruga and Gradius V.

One neat detail is that, when exA was first announced last year, pre-orders were available for a limited edition Strania-themed unit, if that in any way testifies to the quality of this release. All I know is that it’ll be pretty nice to play an intricately crafted, mech-based shoot-em-up in the coin-op environment later this year. Arcades really are the proper homes of shooters.

 

8. Shikhondo Red Purgatory

Shikhondo Red Purgatory, developed by Deer Farm, is certainly stunning in its presentation. According to its official exA webpage, the title combies Asian mythology with state-of-the-art HD graphics to create a “haunting shooting experience from Korea that players will keep coming back to.” It will feature full English and Japanese voice acting and multiple play modes to keep players coming back.

While I’m not too familiar with this release, I have to note the artstyle. The two-dimensional sprites and environments are painterly – appearing as if they may be handcrafted – and I do think Shikhondo will be able to achieve its desired hauntedness with such an aesthetic. Gameplay-wise, it’s another vertical shoot-em-up, but I have to give credit where credit is due, this should be an enjoyable experience all around.

 

9. Nippon Marathon: Turbo Hyper Running

This is going to be a fun one. Developed by Onion Soup Interactive, Nippon Marathon is a four-player foot racing game that doesn’t take itself seriously in any way. Apparently “fully optimized for family entertainment centers and arcade bars*,” players can stagger about and seek victory. (All while avoiding watermelons, of course.) This title coming straight from Japan (*Birmingham) is poised to take arcades by storm.

Although the Steam and console releases are already quite popular, I really do see Nippon Marathon thriving in the coin-op environment. Taking on friends shoulder-to-shoulder, spectators gaping at the insanity ensuing onscreen – it’ll all be good fun. And considering exA’s Twitch streaming support, we may see some gameplay feeds coming directly from cabinets across the globe. Nippon Marathon is already a fantastic experience, and I firmly believe it’s destined for greatness in arcades.

*word changed at the request of trademark holder

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