Retro fans can certainly relive the good old days with Centipede/Breakout/Warlords for the GBA. Each of the included games compares favorably to its arcade or 2600 counterpart, and players can adjust various options for things like background graphics and difficulty. Nevertheless, it's hard to recommend a retro compilation that only contains three games, especially when they're so old.
First up on the selection interface is Centipede, a rather bizarre shooter that took arcades by storm in 1980. In Centipede, the player controls an exterminator that can only move around within the bottom fifth of the screen. The object is to shoot the centipede that works its way down to the player area through a field of mushrooms. When you shoot one of the centipede's body segments, it splits apart into separate centipedes. Other enemies to watch out for include fleas, spiders, and scorpions. The version of Centipede included on this cartridge is based on the original arcade game, which had crisper sprites and displayed more onscreen colors than the subsequent Atari 2600 version.
Next up is Breakout, which was originally released in arcades in 1976, and later on the Atari 2600 in 1978. This version is based on the Atari 2600 game, as evidenced by the absence of black lines defining individual bricks on the playing field. Breakout is a simple ball-and-paddle game, in which the object is to hit the ball toward stacked-up walls of bricks. When hit, individual bricks disappear and the ball rebounds back toward the bottom of the screen. If the ball sneaks past the paddle, you lose a life.
Last but not least on the cartridge is Warlords, a four-player game in which players catch and throw fireballs at the walls of their opponents' castles in an effort to break through and slay the king seated at the center. Warlords was one of the first multiplayer arcade games, released way back in 1980. Each player had his or her own rotary-dial controller, which moved their knight's shield around the walls of the castle. A button on the cabinet let players catch and release the fireballs. The version of Warlords on this cartridge obviously doesn't use rotary controls, but it does allow four-player match-ups with a link cable and multiple copies of the game.
While the games in this compilation don't look or sound identical to their arcade or 2600 counterparts, they're close enough. The graphics have been scaled down to fit the GBA's screen dimensions, but there isn't much loss of detail, since the graphics weren't very detailed in the first place. Centipede is the only graphically intense powerhouse in the bunch, thanks to all of the mushrooms, centipede segments, and insects that can be displayed at one time. You can toggle full-screen, small-screen, or vertical display options for both Centipede and Breakout, as well as select the background graphic that will display underneath the playing field. As for the audio, the simple boops and pops that form the sound effects for each game seem more high-pitched than they were originally, but that can be alleviated somewhat by turning the volume down a bit. Otherwise, the games play as they should. The GBA obviously doesn't have an analog trackball or a rotary-dial controller, which made movements in the arcade versions of Centipede and Warlords instantaneous, but the unit's directional pad is adequately responsive for such simple games.
Unfortunately, DSI Games didn't feel the need to include a battery or SRAM save function for the compilation's high-score lists. That's tragic, considering that these games were originally released during an era where setting and beating high scores was just as important as enjoying the game itself.
Taken as a whole, this compilation is merely OK at best. The games themselves are close reproductions of the originals, but the lineup isn't exactly powerhouse. Breakout and Warlords may be classics, but it's tough to stay interested in them because they're so extremely old. Of the three games, Centipede has the most staying power. If only this compilation included a couple more games or kept track of high scores...