ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL -- The challenge for Team Play Inc. was following up its award-winning hit game Fishbowl Frenzy. With its 65" high-definition see-through LCD screen putting a creative new twist on a familiar arcade theme, Fishbowl Frenzy is a hard act to follow.
Team Play's new Launch Code demonstrates that the Elk Grove Village, IL, amusement machine factory has not backed away from technology or originality. Created by the same engineering and design team that produced Fishbowl Frenzy, the new piece is an all-skill redemption game that combines easy-to-learn mechanical processes and sophisticated graphics. Launch Code won a 2017 AMOA Innovator Award.
Launch Code features an alien cartoon character, Codey, that players attempt to launch back to his home planet by dropping balls into "fuel canister" tubes at the base of the game's vertical, unobstructed playfield; balls are carried in a back-and-forth moving mechanism at the top of the playfield. With each ball that enters a tube, players watch Codey ascend toward his home planet as they win tickets.
"We tried to bring more game to the player," explained Team Play's Brian Smolik, the game's development director. "Instead of just one drop and done, we gave four ball drops. Players get more entertainment value for their money."
Launch Code features a 65" LCD high-definition screen that runs 3D animation. A single button releases a ball with each push, making gameplay intuitive for players of all ages. It also has a 20" LED panel that acts as a secondary marquee, displaying rules and the progressive jackpot's value. The progressive bonus increases each time the game is played, and it does not require a link to another game.
The game's novel ball-load mechanism keeps the game moving at a rapid pace. "Because we're dropping four balls each time the game is played, we've added mechanical technology to pre-load," Smolik said. "The next four balls are loaded before a current game ends, so it's always ready to play."
Launch Code offers two play modes: flash and target. In flash mode, players drop the balls through the fuel canisters at the bottom of the game; each canister is marked with a ticket value. Dropping a ball into the "bonus canister," with the hovering ship above it, rewards the player with larger winnings. What's more, the bonus value increases each time it's hit, which motivates the player to keep aiming for it.
In target mode, multiple objects appear in the fuel canisters at the beginning of each game. The player drops the four balls with the goal of matching the locations of those four targets. The more targets hit, the more tickets awarded. The two modes, selectable from the game's software settings, allow operators to switch from one to the other quickly.
"We tried to make the game as intuitive as possible," said Team Play chief executive Ed Pelligrini. "Some locations will understand the more complex target mode immediately. However, when you go to a younger demographic, flash mode works better. Changing modes from simple to more challenging refreshes gameplay and should keep players interested."
Details, Details, Details
Pelligrini pointed out that the game is loaded with subtle but important features designed to enhance the player experience. The LED lighting that runs around the perimeter of the cabinet, for instance, is synchronized with the action on the playfield, the sound effects and the animated Codey. Combined, they deliver an immersive experience. "Winning looks and sounds like 'winning,'" Pellegrini said.
In attract mode, the game's retro solenoid knocker bangs against the interior of the cabinet in synchrony with the Codey cartoon knocking on the glass. "There's just something about a mechanical sound," Pellegrini observed. "You feel it. It's a lot different than something that's created digitally. Obviously, it's not a big thing. It's a small thing, but an example of the attention to the design detail we put into our games."
Play value and subtle innovations help make Launch Code a worthy successor to Team Play's Fishbowl Frenzy.
WE HAVE IGNITION: Pictured, from left, Team Play founders Ken Fedesna, Ed Pellegrini and Frank Pellegrini admire the company's new Launch Code game. New skill game offers players the chance to win tickets by assisting marooned alien Codey (visible at rear) to fuel up his spaceship in order to return home. Like its hit predecessor Fishbowl Frenzy, Launch Pad draws on arcade-game tradition to provide simple, mechanical play enhanced by cutting-edge computer graphics.