REVIEW – Midway Arcade Origins (360)

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Blast From The Past –

Compilation games are nothing new.  Namco, Konami, and even Nintendo constantly find ways and excuses to re-release old games… but for some reason gamers re-buy games all the time and rarely think twice.  Just look at all the HD Collections on PS3/360, the Wii Virtual Console catalog, PSN and XBLA ports, etc.

 

As I look at my three different versions of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV, I too am a sucker for paying for games that I already own.

Midway is no stranger to the re-bundling of old games either.  During the PS2/Xbox/GC era of last generation, multiple Midway compilation titles were released for pretty much every platform available. Warner Bros., the owners of Midway’s franchises, has found a new way to re-bundle 31 classic arcade games from the 80’s onto one disc with a budget price of $30.  Here is a list of all the games included:

  • Defender
  • Gauntlet
  • Joust
  • Rampage
  • Total Carnage
  • 720°
  • A.P.B.
  • Arch Rivals
  • Bubbles
  • Championship Sprint
  • Tournament Cyberball 2072
  • Defender II
  • Gauntlet II
  • Joust 2
  • Marble Madness
  • Pit-Fighter
  • Rampart
  • Robotron 2084
  • Root Beer Tapper
  • Satan’s Hollow
  • Sinistar
  • Smash TV
  • Spy Hunter
  • Spy Hunter II
  • Super Off Road
  • Super Sprint
  • Toobin’
  • Vindicators Part II
  • Wizard of Wor
  • Xenophobe
  • Xybots

Unfortunately, if you are younger than 25 years old, you probably won’t appreciate this bundled disc as much as the people who grew up during the golden arcade age.  While the developers did the best job they could with porting these games to a modern console, nothing can replace playing these games on an actual arcade machine.  Sure, seeing the cabinet art and the “insert coin” text can instantly spark nostalgia but there are some things than an analog stick just cannot do.

Rub your marbles

Can you image playing Golden Tee without a trackball?  Yeah, I am sure it could translate to a modern controller but it would miss that special gimmick that makes the whole experience memorable.  This is what it feels like when playing Marble Madness or Rampart without its original trackball control.  The same goes for playing Super Sprint without the racing wheel and pedal.  It works, but doesn’t carry the same amount of influence.  This is no fault of the developer, however.

On the opposite side, some games actually fair better thanks to modern controls.  The twin-stick mechanics of Robotron and Smash TV work exceedingly well thanks to the advent of dual analogs.  Also, Xbox 360 players might actually want to invest in one of the upgraded 360 controllers than can switch from a disc to a plus to get maximum control.

The best addition to this compilation disc is the inclusion of worldwide online Leaderboards and Achievement/Trophy support. Multiplayer support is included but through local multiplayer only.  The exclusion of online multiplayer is a glaring oversight because everyone knows that playing Gauntlet and Gauntlet II is no fun solo.  However, each game would have to have been re-coded and tested to support network play. In comparison, the re-releases of the NeoGeo games available on PSN do not support netplay either.  If that was the case, this disc probably would have doubled in price. But in my opinion, that would have been a worthwhile cost especially considering many of these games that were ported to the XBLA are no longer available.

Playing in the mud

Each game contains one specific Achievement/Trophy so completionists have extra incentive besides beating friends on the Leaderboards.  Some games on this disc are better than others but pretty much all of them offer a steep challenge.  Nostalgic gamers will definitely enjoy this compilation while younger games can receive a quality gaming history lesson at a budget price.

Besides the inclusion of online multiplayer support, the lack of bonus content is also a little disappointing.  No developer interviews, no toggling of dipswitches, no cheat code options.  The developer commentary from last gen’s Midway Arcade Treasure series was a welcomed inclusion so the lack of a proper history lesson with an “Origins” game is somewhat of a letdown.  There are, however, random factoids that scroll along the bottom of the screen when the game is paused.  Each game is also emulated well, even retaining the bad digitized voice snippets in games like Sinistar and Wizard of Wor.  The main menu screen is also easy navigated and the user even has the option to sort games by category and even add games to a Favorites folder.  And if users choose to install this game on the 360’s harddrive, it only takes up a measly 200mb storage space.  The short introduction movie should also please fans as well.

The main customer of Midway Arcade Origins is going to be the older gamer who has memories of stacking up quarters on the monitor panel to call next. Nostalgia is a major factor here but Warner has created a solid package at the right price.

 

Not As Good As: playing on an actual arcade machine but this is the next best thing

Better Than: finding space for 30 full size arcade cabinets

Also Try: Namco Museum Virtual Arcade, XBLA Game Room, NeoGeo games on PSN

By: Zachary Gasiorowski

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