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Issue Date: Vol. 43, No. 11, November 2003, Posted On: 11/11/2003


Chicago Gaming's New 'Nicktoons Racing' Blends Driving Action And Cartoon Hilarity In Coin-Op Piece


Nick Montano
Nick@vendingtimes.net

CICERO, IL - Chicago Gaming Co. Inc. is now offering "Nicktoons Racing," a hit in home-based platforms since its 2000  introduction, for the coin-op market.

Built on Nickelodeon cartoon concepts and featuring the cable network's popular cartoon characters, "Nicktoons Racing" offers a choice of 12 exciting high-speed race courses, with four races at three skill levels in each.

Players choose a TV character from the "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Rug-rats," "The Wild Thornberrys," "CatDog," "The Angry Beavers" "Aaahh! Real Monsters," or "Hey Arnold!" They then select a track difficulty level , Beginner, Intermediate or Expert. "Nicktoons Racing"

Next, players are off on a wild and colorful race, fraught with hazards but providing unexpected special features that can give them the upper hand as they make their way to the finish line. If players perform well, they move on to the next track environment.

The game works on allotted time, not completion of play, so players can experience more than one race and perceive high value for the play price. This feature also encourages repeat play.

"Nicktoons Racing" features colorful digital graphics displayed on a 27-in. SVGA computer monitor. Resolution is much higher than that provided by typical game monitors. Built around a PC computer board, the game's industry standard architecture easily supports future updates.

"Nicktoons Racing" was first marketed to home computer users in 2000, and subsequently made its entry into "GameBoy," "PS2," "Xbox" and other home video game platforms.

Chicago Gaming explained that,  through research with operators, it discovered a "gaping hole" in the coin market for a game that would attract and delight six- to 12-year-old players. Tim Ferrante, publisher of GameRoom magazine (Land O'Lakes, FL) saw the potential for filling this void, and agreed to assist Chicago Gaming as a sales representative.

"The strongest license on earth for the 6- to 12-year-old demographic is 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and the other Nicktoons characters," Ferrante told VT. "There is no other license that can top it. So we looked to capitalize on that realization, and 'Nicktoons Racing' driving game was a perfect choice to port over to coin-op."

The coin-op version offers features designed to captivate aficionados of the home versions of "Nicktoons Racing" as well as newcomers. "By adding the tangible elements of a gas pedal, steering wheel, brake, gearshift lever and a large SVGA monitor, we've insured that anyone who has played the PC version will be blown away by this incarnation," Ferrante explained.

"Nicktoons" is licensed by Infogrames, and its characters are licensed through Viacom and Nickelodeon.

"The license, especially 'SpongeBob', triggers a visceral response in six- to 12-year-olds , they simply adore that character," said Ferrante. "Even parents enjoy watching it; it has creative elements adults can appreciate. We're talking about a game that features characters who are on cable television every single day of the year."

One challenge of transforming the home computer version for the coin-op environment was the need to compress play time. The home version is designed to be played for 30 minutes or longer.

"For coin-op, we had to make it all happen in three minutes and our programmers did a magnificent job in accomplishing this," Ferrante explained. And the coin-op version can be understood more rapidly, immediately engaging the player.

Chicago Gaming also added a unique feature for players who find themselves stuck against a wall or other obstacle. Whereas players at home must reverse out of their predicament, the coin-op game allows them simply to steer back onto the track. And, if players are confused and do nothing at all,  they are automatically returned to the track. But the reverse gear still is available to players who want to use it.

"One of my observations at open houses was the complete and immediate understanding that children display when operating this game for the first time," the Chicago Gaming sales representative reported. "It is all second nature to them. I watched in awe as a four-year-old girl worked the shift lever to reverse away from an obstacle she'd hit. and then steer back onto the track. She was four years old, and no one  had told her what the shifter was for. Today's children are so totally immersed in  electronics that they need no learning curve for video games ' Kids are as much at home in a 'Nicktoons Racing' bucket seat as they are in their own bedrooms; it's their realm."

Chicago Gaming tested a "Nicktoons" coin-op prototype in a location where it would get some "rough and tumble" use to serve as a stress test for the game's system and hardware. "The game performed beautifully, with nary a glitch," Ferrante stated. "It played and held up perfectly, and the production models are simply awesome."

A big bonus for operators of "Nicktoons Racing" is that a "SpongeBob" animated feature movie is slated to appear in theaters nationwide next fall. Securing a place for the game in theater locations promises a high return on investment when the movie is released, Ferrante predicted.

Chicago Gaming Co. was founded eight years ago to manufacture and distribute arcade-type products to the home market. It supplies games to more than 300 recreation-room retailers nationwide, including air hockey tables, bumper pool tables and foosball. It is an offshoot of Churchill Cabinets, which was founded in 1904.

Information on "Nicktoons Racing" can be had from Tim Ferrante at tel. (732) 673-1414, fax (813) 996-1406.


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