Midway is back with yet another collection of old arcade games. This collection provides classics from the mid-'80s to 1990. On paper, this collection looks unstoppable, but some little control problems and other emulation inaccuracies keep it from reaching its full potential.
The game's menu interface is simple - you can select a game, watch several video interviews with its developer, and configure most of the game's original dip-switch settings. The video interviews are nice and informative, and they provide quite a lot of insight into how arcade games were made back in those days. However, the individual developers aren't identified in the video, so there's no real way to match the names with the faces.
Toobin' is a two-player game that puts you and a friend in the roles of Bif and Jet, two guys who ride inner tubes and throw soda cans at anything in their way. Your mission is to simply move downstream, avoiding obstacles and collecting treasure chests. You controlled the original arcade game with five buttons. Four were devoted to movement in a very tank-tread type of way, enabling you to make very tight turns, and the fifth was for throwing cans. The default control on the PlayStation lets you play with the D-pad, but it really doesn't do the game justice. Thankfully, you can use the top L and R buttons to more accurately reflect the arcade's movement controls. Lastly, while the gameplay has remained intact, the sound, specifically the music, is pretty bad.
Rampage is another good game gone horribly wrong - and I'm not talking about the annoying sequels that have been released in recent years. The old monster-smashing-buildings game plays like it's skipping two out of every three frames of animation, resulting in an extremely choppy game. Plus, the low screen resolution makes everything look really blurry."It is the nineties and there is time for... Klax!" This is quite possibly the silliest game slogan to ever come out of an American developer. This puzzle game, based on catching tiles as they come off a conveyor belt and dropping them into a pit, was released as the Tetris craze was really starting to heat up. Klax is a good enough puzzle game, but it probably won't hold your attention in this age of Puyo Puyo and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
720 used a custom controller - it was like a paddle controller, only there was a slanted joystick sticking out of it. This let you spin like crazy and pull off all the spinning skateboard tricks in the game. It would seem possible to use the Dual Shock analog stick in the game, and that appears to be what the developers tried to do, but it just doesn't work out very well, and you're stuck using the digital pad to simply turn left and right at a fixed speed. While the game is still sort of fun, it's very difficult to play with these controls, and they all but ruin the game.
Super Sprint, Atari's 1986 follow-up to the late '70s black-and-white racing game Sprint, is a three-player driving game with great track design and car upgrades. The arcade version, which sported three steering wheels, demanded that you really get the wheel spinning as fast as possible to make some of the turns without having to slow down. It's harder to get that kind of turning radius on the Dual Shock, but the game still controls well enough to make it fun.
In my book, Smash TV is the crown jewel in this collection. The spiritual successor to Robotron: 2084, this dual-stick shooter was notoriously hard. The unlimited, free continues in this home version take a little bit of the challenge out of the game, but it's still amazingly fun. The translation is reasonably good, runs at full speed, and has excellent control with the digital pad. You can also use the analog sticks to move and shoot, but since your character will only move and fire in eight directions, the analog sticks are slightly more difficult to use.
The great conversion of Smash TV alone makes this pack worth picking up. Fans of 720 and Toobin' will be disappointed by the PlayStation's lackluster control, and Rampage fans will simply be disgusted. Hopefully a pack with games like Narc, Total Carnage, and maybe even the original Mortal Kombat won't be too far behind.