exA-Arcadia is a PC-based arcade platform released in Japan on November 27, 2019, with an international release on January 2020. It's designed as an affordable modern cartridge-based conversion kit in an era of either large dedicated machines (which are expensive to purchase and maintain) or digital distribution systems (which force operators to share their revenue with the manufacturer, on top of the monthly fees for network infrastructure usage).
Designed for use as plug-&-play conversion kits for multiple types of JVS-compatible arcade cabinets, the platform supports numerous arcade configurations (with support for 16:9 high-definition LCD screens, in either orientation, as well as traditional 4:3 standard-definition CRT monitors) and four cartridge slots (which, similar to the Neo Geo MVS, allows players to choose from multiple games installed on the same machine).
Most of the games released are either shoot-'em-ups or fighting games, with the majority of titles being revamped ports and remakes of earlier games (namely modern indie games and older classic games). Each game includes their own exclusive features, such as new characters, arranged soundtrack, and bonus game modes.
The Japanese version of the system launched with one game: a remake of the mobile shoot-'em-up Aka to Blue, called Aka & Blue Type-R. The overseas version also launched with an enhanced port of the PC fighting game Shaolin vs. Wutang: Eastern Heroes, known as The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ.
Development & Technical
All games are published by the exA-Arcadia company themselves, with the development handled both by third-party and by in-house development teams (from TEAM EXA-AM1 to TEAM EXA-AM6). Each game follows the company's essential guidelines, including the use of pre-game tutorial demonstrations (similar to those on the Neo Geo), basic support for all required resolutions (480p, 720p, 768p, 1080p, and 4K), support for horizontal orientation in vertical-oriented games, and exclusive content for game ports.
As the hardware is PC-based, it is compatible with games developed from a wide variety of game engines and development tools, including those tailored towards indie games. The Kadokawa engines 2D Fighter Maker 2nd and Pixel Game Maker MV are exclusively licensed to the platform, with 2D Fighter Maker 2nd receiving exclusive new features for it.
The hardware is also designed for input delay in mind, with some games (such as Dondonpachi True Death EXA Label and Crimson Katana EXA Label) allowing for one-frame delays on certain configurations. Part of this is achieved through a custom JVS I/O board (known as the JVS' or JVS Dash), which extends the JVS standard and, according to the exA-Arcadia company, allows near-zero frames of lag (0.3 frames).
While the system is also sold in kit format, it received some dedicated cabinets in the Western market:
- In 2021, a limited release of dedicated cabinets were built in conjunction with Fun Company. It featured a 55" 4K display and two six-button configurations: 2-player and 4-player.
- In November 2022, a more affordable and mass-produced model was released by exA-Arcadia themselves. Dubbed the ARC-1, it features a 32" 1080p rotatable display, a smaller footprint, swappable control panels, and the JVS Dash I/O board.
Hawt Pink Club
In 2022, the exa-Arcadia platform received an officially-licensed adult-focused variant known as Hawt Pink Club. This pink-themed variant, as well as all games for it, are published by the Dutch-based company Hawt Pink Club and are focused on eroge for adult entertainment establishments (such as strip clubs).
All games are cross-compatible with exa-Arcadia units, with some games allowing operators to disable all erotic elements for use in a normal arcade setting.
- Strip Fighter 5 Arcade Edition (StudioS)