Whenever I think of the Golden Age of Arcade gaming, my mind journeys back to the “Shoot-Out at the O.K. Arcade” episode of Different Strokes. Willis (Todd Bridges) was the arrogant champion of the arcade, but Arnold (Gary Coleman) – his younger brother – wanted to take the crown. It was the era where the leaderboard was born. You wanted to have your name (or rather your initials) immortalized on a giant arcade system for all to see.
Midway Arcade Origins harkens back to that treasured age of gaming, where taking a date to the Arcade was cool. Unfortunately, cool isn’t the word to describe this random 31-game collection, which has an odd assortment of games ranging from Pit-Fighter to Joust. This is the second Midway collection released in the past decade – the first being Midway Arcade Treasures in 2003.
Truthfully, I can still play several games from the 80s and have a ton of fun playing through them. I don’t even need the HD graphics that this collection boasts. However, several of these titles are just as painful to play now as they were over two decades ago.
Games included: Defender, Gauntlet, Joust, Rampage, Total Carnage, 720°, A.P.B., Arch Rivals, Bubbles, Championship Sprint, Tournament Cyberball 2072, Defender II, Gauntlet II, Joust 2, Marble Madness, Pit-Fighter, Rampart, Robotron 2084, Root Beer Tapper, Satan’s Hollow, Sinistar, Smash TV, Spy Hunter, Spy Hunter II, Super Off Road, Super Sprint, Toobin’, Vindicators Part II, Wizard of Wor, Xenophobe, and Xybots
Your taste in several of these games is a matter of opinion. Some love Joust. Some hate it. Other games like Rampage, I remember playing on my older brother’s monochrome computer. Just like Arnold in “Shoot-Out at the O.K. Arcade”, I wanted to oust my brother’s score from the coveted top position on the leaderboard.
Root Bear Tapper is also on the collection. This game is always good for a quick jolt of bartending fun, especially after the game made an appearance in Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph. However, just like other games in this collection, Tapper was released on iOS and as a digital download on XBLA.
The collection doesn’t really cater to a specific crowd. Sports and fighting games are mixed in with car racing games. Outside of Tecmo Bowl and Double Dribble, personally I’d have no interest in playing an outdated sports game from the 80s. However, this collection brings back Arch Rivals. Do you remember Pit-Fighter? If you do, it’s probably because the marketing campaign had it hyped up for its “realistic” graphics. The gameplay was mundane and still is generations into the future.
Games like Gauntlet take me back to the original Arcade survival games. Countless enemies swarming around you, while your quarters quickly diminished. There was always a sense of accomplishment when you beat titles like this because if you died – that was it. Plus, Arcade players who could string out a quarter for a long time period were always given respect. Nowadays, one-dimensional survival games like Gauntlet wouldn’t work. But, it’s still fun to play. Perhaps the goal of this release is to find interest in a few titles and relaunch a franchise. What do you think, Joust 2014 Next Gen?
Midway Arcade Origins is a treacherous journey back in time. There are some games that will make you nostalgic, while other titles will remind you of archaic design problems that often led to one too many deaths (and the loss of a few quarters). Game collections built around the 80s need rock-solid titles like Missile Command, Centipede and Pac-Man to serve as their cornerstones – or at least Moon Patrol, which was a Midway game. Sadly, none of the games on this compilation scream awesome. Most of these titles were released in Midway Arcade Treasures (which wasn’t in HD). Oddly enough, Paperboy was left off of this release (some bull…). The compilation also has some new Achievements built in, which you can suffer through archaic gameplay to obtain. But chances are, your interest in most of these games will dwindle just like your memory of the golden age.