In an age where high-definition visuals, explosive surround sound and action-packed gameplay is the video game norm, it’s nice to take a look back at the industry’s extraordinary past. You see, without analyzing where everything started, as well as the incredible technological progression that we’ve witnessed over the last number of decades, it’s tough to fully appreciate what we have. Also, the simple fact is that yesteryear’s games deserve to be remembered, as well as celebrated. Sure, they don’t have optimal control schemes or anything that we take for granted in this year of 2012, but they have heart, charm and, for many, nostalgia. A lot of work went into our interactive hobby’s classics, and it’s a shame that today’s generation doesn’t appreciate them much.
Bringing the past to digital life through emulation means, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has done its best to showcase what one of history’s most influential developers did for its industry. That would be Midway, a now defunct but unforgettable company, which is celebrated through Midway Arcade Origins. A compilation of thirty titles from decades ago, the set is now available for purchase by both nostalgic folks and relative newcomers, who aspire to learn more about the origins of interactive entertainment. Considering that it retails for a mere thirty dollars, about the deal that is presented here. That is, despite the fact that only certain people will find hours of entertainment on the branded discs. Even though many of the included games were pivotal releases that changed our hobby’s landscape, they’ve become quite dated.
Those who can appreciate the age of previously-released experiences from the colourful 80s and the early 90s will find an eclectic and rather thorough assortment of games to either revisit or play for the first time. The varied list includes classics like Root Beer Tapper, Rampage, Joust and Smash TV, not to mention Gauntlet, Spy Hunter and Defender, plus their respective sequels. If you’re in your late twenties or further along in life’s adventure, then those titles should surely bring back memories of local arcades. Granted, those aren’t the only games included within this Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 release. The full list includes;
Tournament Cyberball 2072
Root Beer Tapper
Spy Hunter 2
Super Off Road
Vindicators Part 2
Wizard of War
As a lifelong gamer, I’ve always appreciated the classics. Growing up with a borrowed Atari 2600 and having a regular opportunity to play copious amounts of NES titles with family obviously helped with that. However, when many of the games included within Midway Arcade Origins were released, I was too young to frequent arcades with handfulls of quarters. As such, almost all of them were new to me until I was asked to review this budget-friendly compilation. For that reason, my experience was lacking the nostalgia that others will find. However, that doesn’t say anything about the respect and appreciation that I felt, nor the entertainment that some of the games provided.
Unsurprisingly, those who go in expecting a polished menu system and presentation-based upgrades will not find them here. Instead, what’s presented is a rather basic and crudely designed rotating arcade, which looks as if it was taken out of one of Midway’s early releases. What’s nice is that the fine details – such as each game cabinet’s unique decals – are included, adding a nice touch to the homage-filled title. Arcade veterans will appreciate that almost as much as they’ll appreciate the return of some of their childhood favourites.
When the player selects a game from the main menu, it’s almost as if time travel occurs. The loading times are short and impressive, but what’s most notable is how well the emulation software runs each title. Sure, there are control issues, which should be expected, but it’s obvious that Backbone Entertainment wanted to preserve each experience, as opposed to messing with them. Not much has seemingly changed from the full-screen 80s and 90s, though the chiptune and original music soundtracks were surely improved. Going further, auto-save and online leaderboard functionality has been added in, along with achievement and trophy support.
Simply put, Midway Arcade Origins is a niche title. For that reason, it will only appeal to certain gamers, and will not receive anywhere close to the amount of hype that this holiday season’s interactive giants will. Then again, that’s OK. In fact, it’s expected. Those who will enjoy this historical package most should already know that they will. However, let’s hope that members of this new generation will become interested in learning about video game history, because it’s important to respect and remember the past, even if dated technology and clunky controls factor in.
This review is based on a XBOX 360 copy of the game that we were provided with.