The days of the arcade are long gone. There currently exists no way to relive the magic of the 1980s gaming experience without dealing with hordes of children at Chuck E. Cheese’s or braving the loud sounds and darkness of an increasingly popular barcade. With the rise of game consoles and existence of in-home motion gaming over the past few decades, arcades have been rendered useless. However, Warner Bros. Games takes the classic arcade cabinets of yesteryear and brings them to home consoles in Midway Arcade Origins.
Midway Arcade Origins brings 31 classic Midway arcade games together on one disc. Following Midway’s bankruptcy in 2009, Warner Bros. acquired the rights to many of its classic titles. Games including Defender, Joust and Robotron 2084 are also included in the Midway Arcade Origins collection despite being property of Atari Games, which was bought out by Midway before its collapse.
Warner Bros. provides a virtual history lesson of older, seemingly forgotten titles in Midway Arcade Origins. The big games that turned into long-lasting franchises are included. However, the collection of arcade icons includes game types for all retro gamers, from fighting games like Pit-Fighter to old school hack-and-slashers such as Gauntlet. Classics including Root Beer Tapper, Wizard of Wor and Xybots are included along with interesting choices like Toobin’ and Bubbles. Even sports games such as Tournament Cyberball 2072 and Championship Sprint are found in the collection.
Midway Arcade Origins is a perfect example of how recreating an arcade experience can be a surprisingly difficult task. Games made for using the control scheme of an arcade cabinet sometimes do not translate well to the handheld controller of the Xbox 360. The worst example of this is 720, Atari’s unique skateboarding game originally released in 1986.
720, one of the first extreme sports games to be released, used the joystick on the arcade cabinet in a circular style rather than the typical up, down, left, right fashion most games used. That has been recreated on consoles using the controller’s left stick. It makes the game a chore to play, especially with its timed open-style gameplay.
Other games on the disc fail to deliver the nostalgia of the arcade simply because it is impossible to do so. For instance, the arcade versions of Super Off Road and Spy Hunter used a steering wheel, pedals and gear shifters to control the action. Vindicators featured a tank-style look along with lever controls. The new control scheme for these games is not broken but the whole appeal of each game is lost in their conversion to home systems.
However, some of the classics do work on Xbox 360. Rampage, Smash T.V. and Arch Rivals all transfer well to the current generation. The pick-up-and-play simplicity of the arcade versions is recreated with an easy-to-learn control setup that makes sense. Regardless, players who grew up playing these games are forced to learn a completely new control scheme. Considering games of the past were mostly played using muscle memory, getting to know new controls is unappealing to older gamers.
Modes and Features
Pumping quarters in machines after each frustrating game over is a ritual no longer observed in modern gaming. However, Midway Arcade Origins does its best to simulate that pure experience with the game’s Score Attack mode. The game mode, available for each of the arcade classics featured on the disc, essentially gives players a quarter’s worth of gameplay to rack up as many points as possible.
Players who never had enough change to make it all the way through Midway’s games in the arcade will be excited to experience the game’s Free Play mode. In the game mode, players can use as many continues as they desire.
Midway Arcade Origins also features online leaderboards so gamers can see how they stack up against the competition. The leaderboards bring back the feeling of etching one’s name into the top of the in-game high score charts at the local arcade.
Overall, Midway Arcade Origins is a mixed bag of fun and frustrating. Fans of the classic games will be disappointed in the new control scheme and forced nostalgia. The game is too mediocre to hold new players interest. Warner Bros. would have been better off releasing select games from the collection as more affordable downloadable titles.
Unfortunately, Midway Arcade Origins currently provides the only way to experience many of the games featured on the disc. Diehard fans of such games might be more willing to purchase an old arcade cabinet.