Genre: Compilation Developer: Williams Ent. Publisher: Williams Ent. Players: 1-2 Released: 1995
Those remembering the days of the classic arcade know that pretty much any game either involved space shooting or something else similar. But as time went on, games became more diverse as new concepts could be undertaken and technology advanced. Soon came the home console days and the like, which forced arcades to change, and create more complex and violent games. Times kept changing, and games got harder. Then came 1995, where Williams and Midway started bringing back their classic arcade titles to the consoles of the period.
Along with the Genesis, the SNES, N64, and the PC were given the chance to go back to the olden days. Today we’ve got one of the first real compilations put together. But like almost any first, it has its faults. The first major thing you’ll notice is the game is devoid of any kind of theme music. This was quickly fixed by other collections in later years, but here it just makes the game feel incomplete. Also, the way the games are organized seems a bit thrown together at the last minute. You just pick from a stack, which is kind of odd. Later games, which let you go through a series of arcade cabinets with the respective games title seemed to work much better.
The major thing that can ruin the feel for the games is the ability to change almost every aspect about them, including lives, bonus point goals, and even their actual difficulty. I can see it being done so new gamers can try out the older games without worry, but to me it can take away from the feel and natural challenge of the original experience. There’s something about playing Defender with 99 bombs that can really affect the over fun of the game.
The actual gameplay, for the most part, works pretty well. The controls are pretty much identical to the real games (as much as possible, given the different controller schemes involved), maybe except for the space shooters like Defender and Sinistar, which can feel a tad floaty at times. Games like Joust, feel just like the arcade or on the Atari, and while Robotron moves well, the shooting plays different with the Genesis’ D-pad and takes some getting used to. Overall though, it won’t be a huge problem.
The title selection though seems to really show how new the team behind the collection was new at this, throwing in the space shooters, along with the classic Joust and the nice, but easily replaceable Robotron. Defender is pretty much as classic a space shooter as you can get from the golden age of gaming without breaking out Space Invaders. Roll to either side of the screen, taking out various aliens, and keeping the humans safe before the world is destroyed because no one lives on it anymore. Everything’s here, along with the sounds, the bombs, and the hiding above and below screen.
Defender II is even better than the first, so much better that you’d have to wonder why even bother with putting Defender on the cart in the first place. You’ve got better music and sounds, graphics, even the invisible mode. There’s even a better explosion when your ship, well, explodes! While it’s nice to have both, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.
Next up is Sinistar, which became an awesome hit in the arcades, and the fun easily transports itself to the Genny. Whether it’s the speed chases of little red ships for the bomb crystal it stole, or being able to out shoot twenty gunships, this game has a lot of fun in such a small package. Even fighting Sinistar gets exciting, especially when it scares you the first few times by zooming by you and eating your ship seconds into starting that life! Once you kill that first Sinistar, you just want to keep going, and kick that high score’s ass! A great choice.
Another quality inclusion is the game Balloon Fighter is heavily based off of (aka: stolen), Joust. Pretty much the most identical to its arcade counterpart, the title is still fun to this day. Challenging my friends to a game of Joust still takes little to none pleading/sweet talking; it’s that fun of a game. Grab an emu and slap some ostriches around and then eat their eggs, while occasionally attacking a pterodactyl head on. It’s so simple, yet so addicting, even when the floor melts and flames shoot out ready to take you back down with them. A must have and another great choice.
Finally, we have Robotron. A game which hasn’t seemed to age well. Be it the sometimes hard to decipher sprites (is that a robot? A human? Wall? Bomb?), the unusual controls for shooting and walking, or the overall challenge of really moving at all in the later levels, the game just isn’t that talked about today. Not that it’s a bad game. For its time it was great, but now, even ten years ago when this compilation was first done, it just doesn’t seem to fit.
There’s not much more to say, except how much the added two-player modes really add some major replay value to the games. We’ve got five good games brought together in a solid package. It may not have the best five choices, but this collection is easily still worth the buy, for the games and for the decision to make them easy beyond words so you can master every aspect.
SCORE: 6 out of 10