Sometimes I can be a little too cynical for my own good.
Take Midway Arcade Origins, for example.
When I saw it in my local computer shop for £7 (new), as a retrogamer, it instantly attracted my attention. Yet the cynical side of me immediately thought “Yeah, and I bet there’s about two games on it.”
Then I saw the cover proclaiming “30+ Games from the Golden Age of Arcades” and grumpily thought “Yeah, and I bet there’s one premium title in there and the rest are second rate filler.”
Then I turned the box over and saw some of the titles available: Joust, Gauntlet, Rampage, Super Sprint, Defender, Robotron 2084, Sinistar, Marble Madness, 720, APB…
So, of course, I bought it. Even then, that cynical little voice was screaming in my head “You fool. Don’t give them your money. It’s bound to be really rubbish emulation.”
It turns out (not for the first time), that I was wrong. Sure, there are a few games that you might class as filler or have lost their appeal, but on the whole, this is a really strong package and has definitely been one of my best PS3 buys. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s certainly something that every retrogamer will enjoy.
Presentation is pretty basic. A rolling carousel of arcade machines acts as the game selection screen, whilst choosing a game allows you to play around a little with the options – changing the difficulty level, for example. With a nod to 21st century gaming, various Trophies can be earned (when not in Freeplay mode), but that’s pretty much it. Perfectly acceptable, but perhaps not the special treatment these games deserve. A little bit of history behind the games, for example, might have been nice.
The games themselves are a genuine treat. Yes, there are a few weaker/lesser known titles, but the overall lineup is very strong and most of the titles will be instantly familiar to retrogamers and arcade lovers, if only by name. And, of course, you don’t have to have a stack of 10 pences available to play or risk getting beaten up by the local arcade mafia. On first boot, I was like a kid in a sweet shop – there were so many great games I just didn’t know which one to play first.
The games themselves work very well. I can’t honestly say whether they are absolutely faithful to the arcade originals because my precise memories of some of them have faded over time and there are several titles which I never got to play in the aracades. Crucially though, they look, sound and play like their arcade counterparts (to the best of my memory). The minute you hit that Start button, the memories come flooding back and the games are just as much fun to play in 2016 as they were back in the 1980s.
Some have translated better than others – mainly due to controller issues. Super Sprint and Championship Sprint, for example, are both great games but suffer from the lack of a steering wheel, with the cars become even harder to control using the PS3 controller. For the most part, though, controls have been well thought out and are both logical and responsive.
If you were feeling really mean (and didn’t understand retrogaming), I guess you could complain that Midway keep getting money for old rope – releasing 30 year old games on new machines. This is not the first time they have repackaged some of their old IPs for new hardware (a similar package as released for the PS2). To be honest, though, that’s missing the point and if you think that, you’re probably not the target audience for this collection. For the rest of us retrogamers, the lure of 30 (mostly) classic arcade titles for around £7 means you are paying around 23p per game. How can you POSSIBLY complain for that?
My advice? Get out and buy a copy of this before retailers realise they are selling their wares too cheaply!
On reflection then, perhaps it pays to be cynical. It makes life all the sweeter when little gems like Midway Arcade origins prove you wrong.