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Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Package Art
†GENRE
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†DEVELOPER
††Midway
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Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits

Ah, Warlords, Pac-man, Pong... such great games. Too bad I wasnít big on games back then. Granted, thatís probably because I wasnít alive at the time, but oh well. Thanks to compilation packs like these, I can relive the days of old. Defender, Sinistar, Robotron 2084, and Joust: all in one nice, neat-- albeit old school-- package.

Wait a minute, wasnít the GBA as powerful as the SNES, if not more so? So why are we getting these things not seen since earlier than the NES days? Oh well, I guess you may have not heard it in a while, but itís hard to keep a good game down, much less four at once. Since Iíve not played the originals, Iím reviewing them based off their true quality, not as a recreation of the titles.

visuals

As aforementioned, we havenít seen these things since the 80s. Actually, all of the titles date back to either 1980 or ' 82. The graphics are a good reflection of the times. The only one Iíve seen outside the compilation pack here is Joust on the NES, and it looks, to my recollection, just like it did way back when. The other games look to be the same quality, too, with all the amazing animations of flashing lights, and some primitive particle effects.

Thereís not really much to say: I mean these things are ancient, and are by no means challenging the GBAís hardware. I guess the only real relieving thing is that the games look fine with the wider screen, and thereís no slowdown to speak of.

audio

And I thought the original spinach-green Game Boy games had primitive audio! At least they had music. I canít say the same for these without lying horribly. Yet just because thereís a lack of music doesnít mean there are bad sound effects. No sir.

To begin with, as youíre selecting the games from the main menu, you get a short clip of audio from all four. By far the one that surprised me most was Sinistar, and hearing it say (quietly, though), "I am Sinistar!" The game has a couple other voice samples, but theyíre impossible to decipher. Thereís also a somewhat annoying laser sound effect, but thatís really the only quarrel I have against this whole compilationís sound.

Joust has a great flapping sound for when youíre flying, and a few others that seem right on with the original. Defender has a laser noise too, and I wish Sinistar had it, because it is an improvement. Defender, along with Robotron, also has some warning alarms that are very Atari-ish.

Thereís really not any more to say.

gameplay

You have to look at it this way: These are Midwayís Greatest Arcade Hits. Do you know why you donít see RPGs, RTSs, or Platformers in arcades? Because Arcades arenít meant to hold your interest for very long, just long enough to rob the local boys of their allowance for the week. Thatís why youíll put this game down fast, but pick it back up at an equal speed.

Defender
In this shooter, you have to save humans running around the landscape from being abducted and by shooting aliens hovering alien spaceships just waiting for you to blink an eye. Defender takes place over a scrolling, flat outline of a landscape that you can fly over horizontally. The humans stand helplessly on said landscape, practically daring the aliens to try to abduct them. When an alien does snag a human and starts trying to fly off the screen, shooting the UFO will cause it to drop the human. The catch is if the human drops from too far above the ground, heíll die upon impact, so youíll have to literally swoop your ship in place to catch them if theyíre really high up in the atmosphere.

You get three lives, and an equal number of smart bombs. The bombs wipe out everything on screen in a flash. As you progress through the levels, the enemies will actually detect your presence. They can either fire at you, or some go kamikaze. Overall, there are 6 different types of aliens in the game.

By the way, remember when that number was impressive?

The controls are some of the most responsive around, for a cartridge at least. Hitting left or right lets you vary between many different speeds-Ė depending on how long you hold it, or how much you let inertia take its course. Up and down act as if there is no gravity, so you donít have to deal with constantly hitting up.

Sinistar
Ow, my hand!

By far, Sinistar is my least favorite of the group. Itís not that the controls are unresponsive; itís that the gameís not fun. Youíre playing as a ship in an asteroid field swarming with enemies, a few of which shoot at you. You also get to blow up some of the asteroids in order to get seeker bombs, which are needed to defeat Sinistar-- when heís finished being "built" by enemy aliens.

I guess the biggest problem is that the screen is really just too small to deal with a game like this-- one that really demands a long viewing distance. This, I would say, is the only real trouble with the wider screen. You can see maybe three feet in front of you, where you really need to see somewhere around twenty.

The second biggest problem is that when you hit an asteroid, you warp a few millimeters back, not enough room for you to dodge it, so you can only turn your ship a short distance before you hit it again. Plus, the asteroids get in your way. If you want to go somewhere, you have to constantly try to dodge the asteroids, which becomes increasingly annoying.

Robotron: 2084
Iíve heard a lot about the series, but this is my first time actually playing an episode of it. Itís pretty fun, I must admit. You play as a small guy on a square playing field, shooting at everything around you. The story says itís to save the last human family from the Robotrons, and you only progress to the next stage by killing all the killable robots. Yes, some of them are barely phased by your laser blast, and will only stop for a second, before continuing to move towards you. If you get touched by a single robot, you are ever dead. There are small boundaries that you must work your way around, stopping your otherwise completely free range of movement.

Like both preceding games, you have a laser as your main weapon, but itís also your only weapon. Just pressing the direction pad in any direction will cause your character to move in said direction. Holding down B and pressing a direction will cause him to stand in place and shoot lasers wherever you're pointing.

And while this game is good, my hat once again goes off to...Joust
...king of the compilation cart. Though Defender has its share of excellent gameplay, I just canít get enough of this game. You play as a guy on an ostrich equipped with a jousting pole in an arena with 5 platforms, and you can "warp" from one side of the screen to the other just by flying off the left or right side of the screen, a la Mario 2. With each level, you get more enemies, and most of the time fewer platforms.

Donít fret! This is less a punishment than a reward. Itís tougher to navigate through some fairly small passages, as you bounce very far from one when you hit it. So itís easier to fly freely without the platforms in the way. As far as how you win, I think the instruction manual says it best...

Evil knights are transported into the arena to do battle with you. Take them out by landing on top of them. If you choose to attack them head on, make sure you are slightly higher in the air then they are. Upon defeating an enemy, they will be enclosed in an egg and scattered on the battlefield. Collect the eggs before they hatch for points and to ensure they donít turn into warriors again!

The ostrich has four speeds: fast, quick, moderate, and stopped. Each is dependent on how much you hold the control pad and hit A. As you may have guessed, you have to obey gravity in this one, so you need to keep flapping your wings to stay afloat. I donít know why you bounce off the edges of platforms, but you do, according to how hard you hit them. Also, as you may expect from commanding a bird, when you try to stop or turn the other way, heíll put out his feet and skid for a time, again, dependent on how fast you were going.

Yeah. Good gameplay.

multiplayer

Considering none of the original home versions of these games were ever multi-player (near as I can tell) Iím not complaining. Yet two player Joust or Defender wouldíve been awesome!

overall

? No thanks. I like to live in the past from time to time, but not for that price. If you see this somewhere for or so, Iíd recommend it, but not for much more. Ultimately, however, three of the four are really good.

final score Action/10


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