CHICAGO -- Coin-operated video took center stage on Saturday, Oct. 17, at District Bar here, where 55 of the best virtual hunters gathered to compete for two Big Buck world titles. Minnesota roofer Jerad Berg, 33, bagged a $10,000 grand prize for the second consecutive year, this time on Big Buck Safari. His brother, Nick Berg, 25, won a $10,000 prize for dominating Big Buck Hunter Pro.
Competition for the second annual Big Buck Hunter Pro World Championship tournament got underway in early August, and it ran alongside a second title contest on Big Buck Safari, a later installment in the popular coin-op videogame series. This year, $60,000 in prizes doubled the competitive stakes for Big Buck's increasing player base.
Qualifying tournaments were held at select tavern locations throughout the U.S., divided into eight regions. These matches were conducted on games connected to CoinUp, the networking system developed by Big Buck creators Play Mechanix and Raw Thrills. In September, the tournament transitioned into "live body" regional contests, featuring head-to- head play in "shootout" mode. Safari games featured a new tournament mode, Cumulative Kills, which tallied all bucks shot by a player for the event's duration.
Tournament organizer Play Mechanix surprised BBHP competitors by introducing Open Season for play during the final event. The virtual hunters had never played the new version, intensifying pressure among competitors during later rounds.
Separate from the championship event, Play Mechanix will continue running national tournaments on BBHP, using the original six animals, until the end of the year. In January, Open Season animals will be added to online contests, making legacy BBHP games obsolete for national tournament play; original BBHPs can still host local and Trophy Club matches.
Operators who have already placed the latest game version are now able to run custom, local contests using Open Season animals. Open Season adds three new animals and nine "treks" (a trek consists of five individual hunting sites). It's now available from Betson Enterprises. See story here.
Adding to the rising pop culture status of the Big Buck coin-op franchise is a new iPhone application coming out in November. Developed by Super Happy Fun Fun, the BBHP iPhone iteration includes a game and machine locator. The mobile game offers touch-and-shoot interaction in three 3D hunting destinations.
The built-in BBHP Arcade Game Locator uses iPhone's GPS capability to find the nearest networked arcade units in the user's vicinity. Locations of more than 700 networked games will be available when the app launches. IPhone users can also register and update their Big Buck arcade accounts, keep track of leaderboards and track their standings.