Midway Arcade Origins

midway arcade origins

Nostalgia can be extremely arresting.  Can a gamer ever return to the feeling experienced when first taking out the Death Star in Star Wars, smashing multiple baddies with a single rock in Dig-Dug, or playing a flawless board of Ms. Pac Man?

midway arcade origins

Gamer nostalgia is also conjured by environments and contexts.  I’m sure most middle aged gamers have swapped stories from their youth about visiting the local arcade (remember those?) to plunk some quarters in their favorite machines. In those golden years, we played for nothing but score and bragging rights, and we were fascinated by graphics that were so remarkable that they couldn’t yet be reproduced on our home systems or personal computers.  I used to beg my father to take me to the PX on base (military brat, represent) so that I could play one of my retro favorites—the cartoonish cop chase game A.P.B.  It was my fond memory of this 1987 relic that led me toward Midway Arcade Origins. I do not regret the purchase.  At the same time, some of the classic titles within this trove of 30+ games simply don’t reignite the longing to play arcade games that I fondly remember from my childhood.

midway arcade origins

The first problem with the compilation is that some of the classic control schemes just don’t translate to modern joypads.  720 is a prime example. In my youth, I would eagerly line my quarters on top of the black-and white-checkered plastic control panel assembly, but without the circle-locked joystick on the arcade cabinet, the game is almost unplayable.  Too much die, not enough skate.  The same unfortunately applies to A.P.B., a game that is dysfunctional sans its steering wheel and pedals.  Granted, you can still get some enjoyment out of the titles, but they just aren’t the same without the respective racing wheels and other cabinet specific peripherals.

midway arcade origins

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of useless filler in the compilation.  The less you remember about Pit-Fighter, Xenophobe, and arguably the worst sequel of all time, Spy Hunter 2, the better.   In light of these weak choices, I found myself wondering why Paperboy, NARC, and Roadblasters were left out.  All three were extremely popular Midway titles from my youth, and all three could have easily made the compilation exponentially better, especially since Paperboy is no longer available on Xbox Live Arcade.

midway arcade origins

Thankfully I was able to get a lot of enjoyment out a few of the included offerings.  Joust and Joust 2 hold up extremely well, as do Satan’s Hollow, Robotron 2084, Spy Hunter, Rampage, and both Gauntlet games (just don’t shoot the food!). Two titles I’d never played before, Wizard of Wor and Bubbles, ended up being my favorites.  Smash TV and its sequel Total Carnage also play well with a modern controller, and they still serve as a reminder that most of these games were simply designed to get one more quarter out of the pocket of your Kangaroos.  This is certainly a staunch contrast from the “save anywhere, unlimited lives” mentality that permeates game design today.

Leaderboards are also included so you can still appreciate how badly you perform compared to other hardcore retro gamers.  Further, multiplayer is offered on any title that traditionally supported it.   While the limitations of portable console gaming and the omission of certain titles does make the compilation feel a bit incomplete, the game isn’t a bad purchase if you are looking to scratch that retro itch. Just don’t expect most of the games to play like they did when you were waiting in line behind that skeevy dude in the Iron Maiden t-shirt to get one more crack at Sinistar.

Sinistar

sinistar

Sinistar

Why oh why did you suggest this game, I woke up so happy considering it was a Monday and then I thought to myself, “Self, you need to get some gameplay footage of, Sinistar.” Now, my day is ruined and I know nightmares will visit me tonight.

Fine, this Sinistar is an evil arcade game released by Williams Electronics in 1982. The overall theme is you are a lone space pilot fighting waves of enemies while trying to mine planetoids for Sinisite Crystals, which you need to make Sinibombs to destroy the Sinistar. Does all this remind you of the 60’s Batman, with the Bat Shark Spray and such?

Sinitroll

So, when you mine these crystals other fighters try to take you out while workers also try to mine the crystals to build the Sinistar. Once the Sinistar is built, it trolls you by calling you a coward and telling you to run. How am I the coward if he can one-shot me, but it takes 13 Cinnabon’s, er, I mean Sinibombs to kill him?

Now in the above video you see me running around like a chicken with its head cut off not properly mining the crystals and then promptly being owned by that dammed Sinistar. Now check out a better player who runs circles around him.

Enough of this game and damn you Travis Mikalson from our Facebook Fan page for suggesting this.

Smashing Ideas: Gamer Profile

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Name:Victor Allen

Company: Smashing Ideas

Profession: Associate Technical Director

“It’s hard to choose:”

Favorite Classic Game: Tempest

Quote: “Avoid Spikes”


Favorite Classic Game: Joust

Quote: “Flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap bonk”

Favorite Classic Game: Sinistar

Quote: “Beware, I live. Run Coward! ReeeeeeeeeAAAAAAAAaaaargh!!!!”


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Name: Steve Markey

Company: Smashing Ideas Inc.

Profession: Games Producer

Favorite Classic Game: The Legend of Zelda:  a Link to the Past


Quote: Probably the best incarnation of “classic Zelda.”  The balance of exploration, story and ability progression just pushed all my buttons the right way (I still giggle at the thought of firing a hookshot).   It  actually made me call that old “Nintendo Help Line”.  For hours I couldn’t find a dungeon area.   The phone “helper” casually tossed off  “Okay, push the block off the ledge, then go straight, then left, then right, then…”

“Wait! Stop. Go back.  I can… push blocks?”

“Um, yeah. You can.” *Facepalm*

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Name: Avi Mizrahi

Company: Smashing Ideas

Profession: Associate Producer

Favorite Classic Game: The Secret of Monkey Island


Quote: This was one of the first games I played where you were given the freedom to experiment with your surroundings and think ‘outside of the box’. These actions often lead to humorous outcomes and commentary from the game’s characters, and LucasArts ability to poke fun at themselves never got old. Plus, how can you go wrong with a game that consists of both Pirates AND Monkeys!

Favorite Game Dialogue:

Guybrush: At least I’ve learnt something from all of this.

Elaine: What’s that?

Guybrush: Never pay more than 20 bucks for a computer game.

Elaine: A what?

Guybrush: I don’t know. I have no idea why I said that.

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Name: Carrie Peters

Company: Smashing Ideas

Profession: Director of PR & Marketing

Favorite Classic Game: Centipede


Quote: Great game, fun to play and reminds me hanging out in the roller rink in the 80’s when life was simpler!

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Name: Dimitri Sevenster

Company: Smashing Ideas

Profession: Director of Finance

Favorite Classic Game: Mike Tyson’s Punch Out – Original NES


Quote: My favorite thing was the many different fictional characters/boxers from around the globe and their unique qualities that added spiritm humor and challenge to the game.

Quote of the Game: “Those are the fastest fingers I have ever seen.”   …..Mike Tyson’s standard comment when beaten.

Key Cheat Code: 007-373-5963 to skip all and go straight to Mike Tyson.  Code still seared into my memory 23 years later.   🙂