Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits
Sure, this game is all about nostalgia, but it's the good kind of nostalgia.
Do you remember the era of the arcades? When those quarter-gobbling behemoths ruled the gaming roost, and arcades weren't the chichi theme experience they are today, but rather dank, mullet-filled gladiatorial pits where you battled for the fleeting glory of getting your initials on the high-score screen?
Much like the dinosaurs or hair bands, the days of the classic arcade game have been over for a long time. Still, in a move ripped right out of the pages of Jurassic Park, Midway has seen fit to resurrect these old warriors for one last gasp on the N64. Was it worth the effort, or should these games have been relegated to the old-game graveyard?
After spending some quality time with Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits, I can say that these games have what plenty of today's million-dollar games don't have: gameplay, and plenty of it!
Consider how perfect the gameplay balance is in a game like Defender. When you're in a tight spot, should you use one of your precious smart bombs, or just make the jump to hyperspace? Or perhaps go for it Han Solo style and try to use your reflexes to blast your way out? It sounds simplistic, and it is, but it's also very addictive.
As well as my personal favorite Defender, you get other all-time greats like Robotron 2084, Joust, and Spy Hunter. If there were ever a video game hall of fame, all of these titles would have proud places in the corridors of glory. The cart is rounded out by games like Root Beer Tapper (which many hard-core old-school fans rave about), Sinistar, and a very basic trivia mode about classic arcade games.
If you're reading this review you, probably know how these games play, so I'm not going to go into the minutiae of each one. But suffice it to say that all the arcade goodness you remember is still here and is in fine form. The N64 controller works pretty well, though you'll be giving the analog stick a good workout on some of these games.
If there is one element that's lacking, it's in little extras. If you're a craggy old gaming veteran like me, you have probably played the heck out of almost all of the games on this cartridge, and would have appreciated more goodies. Also, I think that Midway could've jacked up the lame presentation, which uses a fuzzy-looking arcade as the main menu. It's so muddy that you can't even see the cabinet art on the stand-up machines. Since the art was one of the main draws for me as young gamer, I would've liked to have been able to make it out. Unfortunately, all you get here is the N64 haze.
And since you can get most of these games on the web for free via various quasi-legal emulations, "director's cut" stuff like interviews with the developers, more artwork, or something a little more in-depth would have been great. However, this cartridge is priced at a mere $30 bucks, so I can't really complain.
Obviously, this cartridge is not going to wow gamers who are used to massive polygon counts and 50-hour storylines. But if the thought of parachute pants makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, you could do worse than trying to relive your glory days with this title.
- Think of the little people in Defender as your family or loved ones. It makes saving them that much sweeter.
- Think of the root beer in Root Beer Tapper as regular beer. Or at worst, hard cider.