Midway is a company with a rich back catalog, rife with classic arcade games. Considering how hot the downloadable classics market seems to be these days, it's no surprise that Midway, a company that has already mined that big catalog numerous times, is attempting to capitalize on every platform possible. Joust, the 1982 arcade classic, is one of a first batch of Midway games that is being published by Sony Online Entertainment. Like the other SOE releases, Joust is mostly accurate, but it also offers the same ugly interface and poor online gameplay that's plagued most of the other classic rereleases on the PlayStation 3.
In Joust, you control a flying ostrich that has a knight armed with a lance riding on it. Your control is limited to left or right movement and a flap button, which you must hit repeatedly to stay aloft. But your jouster isn't the only thing on the level. Similar warriors riding buzzards materialize into each wave, and you must take them on by jousting with them. When two riders collide, the jouster with the higher elevation comes out victorious, while the other is destroyed. When you kill a buzzard, an egg pops out of that buzzard and usually lands on one of the game's several platforms. If left to its own devices, the egg will eventually hatch a new enemy rider. Then, a buzzard will fly up, pick up the rider, and resume combat. So it's in your best interest to collect eggs before they become troublesome. Finally, if you take too long to complete a level, pterodactyls appear and start roaming the level. These flying dinosaurs can't be beat in the conventional Joust manner, which makes them foes you'll want to stay away from, though taking one out still feels satisfying, even after all these years.
The game allows for two-player simultaneous play, which can get tricky because the two players can kill each other if they aren't careful. You can play two-player locally, which works fine, or online over the PlayStation Network, which is extremely dodgy. Not only is it next to impossible to actually find another player online, but when you do come across another person, the games are usually very jumpy and tend to lag, which makes maintaining control of your movement a nightmare. The emulation feels mostly accurate, though the audio has glitches in spots, with a few sounds dropping out or not playing in some instances. Many of the effects also sound as if they're playing at a slightly higher pitch. Granted, that's minor, nitpicky stuff, but considering we're talking about a 1982 arcade game that has been perfectly emulated elsewhere, it's sort of ridiculous that it isn't totally accurate.
Overall, Joust is still a classic. If you don't already own another copy of it, and you have an appreciation for this old Midway treasure, it's probably still worth playing. But it's a shame that more care wasn't put into it because such a revered arcade game deserves better.