Alert readers will recall Emu Zone’s column from late last year (PCZ132), which was devoted to the pioneering use of emulators to allege systematic and deliberate fraud being committed against British consumers by the fruit machines blinking and beeping ubiquitously in the nation’s pubs, chip shops and arcades. The FairPlay Campaign revealed, to the shock of most players, that fruit machines were not only heavily stacked against the player in pure chance terms, but that they actively and by design cheated gamers by offering “gamble” opportunities (typically by means of “High-Low” reels) in which the player would lose their money regardless of which option they chose. The campaign took the revelations to MPs, the press, and the relevant authorities, and here at Emu Zone we promised to keep you up to date with developments.

Impressively, after less than a year in existence, the tiny, emulation-led campaign has yielded concrete results against the massive, multi-billion-pound UK fruity business, and the evidence should be starting to show up in pubs and arcades near you round about now. Where machines used to carry only vague, meaningless disclaimers regarding the odds on gambles, all new machines from this summer onwards will now carry an explicit warning that players may be offered gambles which they have no chance whatsoever of winning, and while it’s short of FairPlay’s ultimate aim that these crooked “gambles” themselves be outlawed, it’s a major step forward in the fight against one of the UK’s most crippling addictions – no longer will losing gamblers be driven to lose more in the belief that riches would have been theirs if only they’d chosen the other option, because the machines now admit for the first time, in backlit black and white, that they cheat outright when they feel like it.

FairPlay doesn’t plan to rest on these initial achievements (the campaign, including PCZ’s own coverage, has also helped convince the relevant Parliamentary committee to tighten restrictions on under-18s playing fruit machines in the forthcoming new Gaming Act, helping teenagers to avoid taking the first steps into addiction before they have the maturity to handle gambling properly), but they nonetheless represent a triumph for emulation, actually doing some good in the real world - as well as enabling players to enjoy the best of gaming irrespective of time, format or geography, of course. Normal service will be resumed next month, but for now emu fans should allow themselves a small glow of congratulation.


Fruit machines – now slightly more honest.

Dangun Feveron (see below): Emu Zone calls you a puff.



Dangun Feveron (arcade, 1998)

There’s almost nothing Emu Zone likes more than a good shmup (missus), but if there is, it’s bringing news of a game never released on these shores (mine’s a tequila, thanks) to British gamers. Or possibly revealing the existence of hitherto secret things. It’s with astonishing good fortune, then, that Emu Zone is able to do all three this month. Dangun Feveron is a brilliant, over-the-top shooter only released in Japanese arcades, which combines insanely frantic action with a bizarre disco-dancing theme. The most interesting thing about it, though, is that it also contains a hidden game, in the form of the “Score Attack” mode often included in home-console ports of coin-op shmups to extend their lifespan in the light of home gamers being able to continue infinitely for free.

In a Score Attack, you’re given unlimited lives, but only a certain amount of time in which to amass the greatest possible number of points, usually by means of clever semi-hidden “combos” and so on. Dangun Feveron’s is no different, taking place over a special three-minute level in which the game’s enemies hurl themselves at you in hordes, with even less restraint than in the normal stages, and it offers some of the most adrenalin-pumping action ever invented. The mode is accessed by holding down both fire buttons while you press the “start” button after inserting a credit, and while a “Score Attack” game was a bit of a waste of your cash in the arcades (unless you were so rubbish a normal game lasted you less than three minutes, of course), at home on MAME it’s a ridiculously addictive challenge. Especially with a decent score like Emu Zone’s impressive-yet-beatable 664,059 to aim for. Have a go, assuming that you’re hard enough.



(Left) A typical scene.


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