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Midway Arcade Origins PS3 Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

Joust

Joust

Image © WBIE
For an incredibly low purchase price, less than I used to spend at the arcade on a good weekend, Midway and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have compiled dozens of the most popular coin-operated games of decades past to both introduce them to a new generation and play off nostalgia of a generation of gamers who fondly rememver these 8-bit gems. Some of these titles aren't even worth the dollar-a-game average of the purchase price but some are definitely worth significantly more, balancing out to a title that offers more than enough bang for the buck. It's interesting to note that in a season dominated by games that test their graphics engines like "Assassin's Creed III" and "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," you may actually have more fun playing the classics in "Midway Arcade Origins."

Game Details

  • 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.

Gameplay

Gauntlet II

Gauntlet II

Image © WBIE

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.

Graphics & Sound

Once again, it's a very mixed bag of visuals and none of them have been upgraded in any way. "Toobin'" looks as horrendous now as it did in 1988. However, some of these games have a timeless look that goes along with their gameplay. "Spy Hunter" looks silly but it still plays better than the 2012 PlayStation Vita version, which is a near disaster. The graphics may not be tolerable for '10s games but they fit these titles well. They're consistent.

Overall

Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter

Image © WBIE
"Midway Arcade Origins" should be seen as a compilation aimed at nostalgic gamers. I do wish that the companies behind games like this one might take the opportunity to offer a little more than an imported arcade experience. Imagine an updated "Joust" or special features about the influence of the game. Just something beyond merely offering the games of our youth. Bring them into the '10s instead of trying to bring us back to the '80s. However, with such a low purchase point, it's hard to complain.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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