Midway hits Arcade again

Five more titles en route to Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade; Xbox 360 titles include Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Paperboy.

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LOS ANGELES--The success of Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade has been a surprise to gamers, publishers, and developers alike. In addition to new games specific for the service, such as Geometry Wars Retro Evolved and remakes of PC games such as Zuma, Crystal Quest, and Bejeweled 2, classic arcade games are getting a second shot at life in the homes of Xbox 360 owners.

The largest contributor of old-school quarter-drainers to Xbox Live Arcade is Midway Games. The publisher has released four games for the service: Joust, Gauntlet, Smash TV, and Robotron: 2084. That quartet is getting joined by a quintet of games this year, Midway revealed at its press event in Los Angeles yesterday.

Defender, the futuristic side-scrolling shooter and one of the most recognizable games from the arcades, will make its debut on next-gen consoles more than 25 years after it first appeared in arcades. Also out on a new route is the 1984 hit Paperboy, the surprisingly challenging game that puts players in the seemingly mundane role of an everyday newspaper delivery boy.

Gamers will then be able to go from slinging papers to slinging drinks by downloading Root Beer Tapper. Doing their best Sam Malone impression, gamers are tasked with delivering sarsaparilla and other libations to needy, parched customers.

Fighting fans familiar with Midway can thank the publisher for one of the genre's most recognizable catchphrases--"Finish him!"--by downloading Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Though Mortal Kombat creative director Ed Boon clearly implied that the franchise will one day appear on next-gen systems, gamers can get a head start on the spine-pulling, head-popping action of the franchise with UMK3.

Gamers who think that the next-gen player models in Madden NFL 06 look stiff and robotic haven't seen anything yet. Cyberball, the futuristic football game featuring machines in lieu of humans, will also be headed to Xbox Live Arcade.

"We've been generally surprised by the response rate...the paid downloads are more than we expected," Midway CEO David Zucker told GameSpot. "It's not going to change our economic success overnight, but it's a nice little business on the side, and we're glad that people are happy with the product." Midway's chief executive also expressed interest in doing similar projects with the PlayStation 3 and Revolution, should they provide that functionality.

Though all five of the upcoming Midway Xbox Live Arcade games are expected this year, the company has not released specific release dates or prices.

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