- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
- Genre: Arcade
- Pros: Great Value, Some Timeless Games
- Cons: Some Not-So-Timeless Games, Dated Controls
What's in this loving homage to lost weekends in the arcade? The full list -- "720°," "A.P.B.," "Arch Rivals," "Bubbles," "Championship Sprint," "Tournament Cyberball 2072," "Defender," "Defender 2," "Gauntlet," "Gauntlet 2," "Joust," "Joust 2," "Marble Madness," "Pit-Fighter," "Rampage," "Rampart," "Robotron 2084," "Root Beer Tapper," "Satan's Hollow," "Sinistar," "Smash TV," "Spy Hunter," "Spy Hunter 2," "Super Off Road," "Super Sprint," "Toobin'," "Total Carnage," "Vindicators Part II," "Wizard of War," "Xenophobe," and "Xybots." Some are true gems and some are definite duds but one simply can't deny the impressive quantity of games in "Midway Arcade Origins." They're not all quality offerings but there sure are a bunch of them.
The actual gameplay varies from game to game and the menus are presented like you're actually approaching each title in an actual coin-operated machine. They're divided into genres -- Sports, Action, etc. -- or presented all in one Lazy Susan of nostalgia greatness. It's tempting to go with the most famous titles first -- "Gauntlet," "Spy Hunter," etc. -- and you should give in to that temptation. There are few "hidden gems" in "Midway Arcade Origins." If you have fond memories of one of these titles and want to play it again, this is a great way to go. If you're wondering why no one talks about "Pit-Fighter" any more, don't bother. There's very little in here that surprised me. I had a feeling that "Gauntlet II" and "Joust" still ruled. And they do. I had a feeling that "Toobin'" was a game that even the 10-year-old me would know was a rip-off at twenty-five cents and it still is.
Which games are the highlights? I've long been a fan of "Joust," one of the first games that I can remember playing over and over again on a home system (which I'm guessing was an Atari or Commodore model). The gameplay is simple. Flap your wings around a platformed area and try not to get hit by the enemy. Land on their head before they land on yours. Difficulty is increased with faster enemies and fewer places to land. It's a remarkably simple game but it still has a spectacular lesson for developers to learn in terms of curve of difficulty. As the player gets better, the game gets tougher. It may sound simple but many games since "Joust" have failed in this regard by making titles that just became easier as skills were learned and the difficulty curve flattened to nil.
Speaking of difficulty, "Gauntlet" is much tougher than you remember. Perhaps it's because arcades always features multiple players taking on Elf & Warrior to help me out, but I found "Gauntlet" in this incarnation almost too difficult. Other highlights include the clever structure of "Rampage" and the timeless "Spy Hunter." I also get a kick out of "Root Beer Tapper" and "Marble Madness." With all sequels, that's eight games for $30. Even if you ignore the other twenty-three titles, that's still less than $4 a game, a heck of a value.