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Pac-Man Collection

Pac-Man CollectionBuy this gameThe Game: Namco raids the archives once more, offering up arcade-perfect handheld adaptations of Pac-Man, Pac-Mania, one of the first-ever home versions of Pac-Man Arrangement, and the Tetris knock-off Pac-Attack. (Namco, 2001)

Memories: Namco has offered some dandy attempts at bringing Pac-Man home from the arcades. They tried with the premiere volume of the Namco Museum series for the Playstation, which suffered from having its display savagely reduced in size to include a lame bitmapped version of the original side art. They tried again with the Game Boy Color version of Pac-Man, and got damn close. Even their battery-powered 5-in-1 TV Game is close enough for government work. But I’ll be gobbled by a quartet of colorful blobs if this ain’t the closest thing this side of MAME to real live honest-to-God Pac-Man. Continue reading

Atari Anniversary Advance

Atari Anniversary AdvanceBuy this gameThe Game: It used to take a pocket full of quarters to enjoy some of the finest arcade games from Atari’s golden age, but now it just takes a pocket full of Game Boy Advance. Included are Asteroids, Tempest, Centipede, Battlezone, Super Breakout and Missile Command, along with a dandy trivia game focusing on Atari’s history and most famous games. (Atari / Infogrames, 2002)

Memories: What should be one of the better classic game compilations on the Game Boy Advance turns out to be a classic example of a mixed bag. The audiovisual side of things is great – though a few of these games have been “reformatted to fit your screen,” to quote the dreaded pan-and-scan movie disclaimer, all of the games look great – very authentic – only this isn’t really the display they were intended for. Missile Command and Super Breakout are somewhat “scrunched” to fit into the available space, and Asteroids is a case where too much effort was poured into preserving the original game’s graphics: everything is shrunken down to the point where smaller asteroids, or incoming fire from an attacking UFO, can be hard to spot because they’re so tiny. Tempest, Centipede and Battlezone, on the other hand, look fantastic. Continue reading

Gatchaman: The Shooting

Gatchaman: The ShootingOrder this gameThe Game: The five who act as one – well, minus one character who doesn’t appear in the game – get their marching order from Dr. Nambu – get out there, infiltrate enemy bases, defeat enemy mecha, and kick as much ass as is deemed necessary. In practice, the game is exceedingly simple – advance upward through enemy territory, take out as many of Berg Katse’s masked men as possible, and live to face a huge mechanical boss. Four missions of increasing difficulty are included. (Bandai, 2002)

Memories: A nicely dressed-up scrolling shooter – think along the line of Taito’s 1980s coin-up Front Line – is at the heart of Gatchaman: The Shooting, one of an almost infinite number of similarly budget priced licensed-character shooters churned out by developers D3 Publishers for the Japanese market in recent years. Aside from the game’s simple but nicely-drawn and animated 2-D characters, the only real Gatchaman-specific content is a gallery of character artwork and some non-animated intro screens which appear between levels. Continue reading

Turnabout

Buy this gameThe Game: A rotating box sits in the center of the screen, containing a maze, at least one mobile ball, and other moving elements such as sliding bars or boxes. Using the left and right D-pad buttons, players rotate the entire box, which will cause any of the mobile pieces to obey the laws of gravity and fall in that direction. The object of the game is to get all of the balls into contact with the jewel of the same color at the other end of the maze – which may not be as easy as it sounds! (Natsume, 2002)

Memories: As Sony eased its restrictions on Playstation licensing toward the end of the console’s life span (at this point, the PS2 was already on the market), heaps of cheap PS1 games hit store shelves. Some of these were pure shovelware, hastily cranked out to make a buck off that segment of the gaming populace that couldn’t afford to upgrade to the PS2. Quite a few were quickly-done localizations of games that had already been released – often as budget titles from the outset – in Japan. Turnabout is in the latter category, and unlike quite a few of the glut of games released in the PS1’s twilight, it’s a lot of fun. Continue reading

Godzilla: Domination

Godzilla: Domination!Order this gameThe Game: As the lone monster not affected by the mysterious magnetic waves being released from Magnetic Meteor X, it’s up to you to fight your way through a series of crazed monsters and defeat the ultimate villain, Mecha-King Ghidorah. (Infogrames/Atari, 2002)

Memories: There’s a fine line between adding to a genre and simply copying it, a line that Godzilla: Domination is never quite able to cross. The makings of a fun game are all here: giant monsters battling throughout multiple interactive playfields, but unfortunately the formula has been done before, better. Continue reading

Ultima III: Exodus

Ultima IIIThe Game: Darkness has fallen anew upon Sosaria, and Lord British calls for your service again. You set out with four adventurers on a quest to gain the experience that will be necessary to survive the long voyage to a volcanic island where the source of all the evil plaguing the world is said to be. (Sven Carlberg, 2002)

Memories: Programmed as a homebrew project, this unofficial version of Ultima III ports the massive home computer RPG to the Game Boy Color. If even half of the game survives that translation intact, that’s a stupendous achievement. But how does it play? Continue reading

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar GalacticaOrder this gameThe Game: Help Ensign Adama and the rest of the remaining humans defeat the Cylons and save humanity in Battlestar Galactica, the space-shooting prequel set 40 years before the popular televsion show. (Vivendi Universal, 2003)

Memories: Like millions of kids, my life changed forever back in 1977 when my parents took me to go see Star Wars for the first time. I loved Star Wars, I lived Star Wars. I had Star Wars toys, Star Wars cereal, and Star Wars Underoos. And for the first time on television, the following year we got… Battlestar Galactica. Ok, so it wasn’t Star Wars, but if you squinted your eyes just right Vipers looked like X-Wing Fighters and Cylons resembled shiny Stormtroopers. Between that and the fact that my parents told me that Starbuck was Luke Skywalker’s cousin, Battlestar Galactica became my “bargain bin” version of Star Wars. Continue reading

Intellivision 25 TV Game

Intellivision 25 TV GameThe Game: 25 choice cuts of Intellivision goodness are crammed into something about the size of a modern-day console controller. Games include Astrosmash, Body Slam Super Pro Wrestling, Buzz Bombers, Chip Shot Super Pro Buy this gameGolf, Hockey, Hover Force, Motocross, Night Stalker, Pinball, Shark! Shark!, Skiing, Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball, Snafu, Space Armada, Space Battle, Space Hawk, Star Strike, Sub Hunt, Super Pro Football, Super Pro Volleyball, Thin Ice, Thunder Castle, Tower Of Doom, Vectron, and World Championship Baseball. (Techno Source, 2003)

Memories: And it sounded like such a neat idea when it was first announced. Really, it is still a good idea. Pack 25 games into a $25 standalone game that plugs into your TV or VCR’s auxiliary audio/video ports, and make them as true to the Intellivision as possible. The real problem here is that they only get so close. Continue reading

Pac-Man Vs.

Pac-Man Vs.The Game: As a round yellow creature consisting of a mouth and nothing else, one player maneuvers around a relatively simple maze, gobbling small dots and evading four colorful monsters, up to three of which are controlled by his fellow players, who can eat Pac-Man on contact. In four corners of the screen, large flashing dots enable Pac-Man to turn the tables and eat the monsters for a brief period of time. Periodically, assorted items appear near the center of the maze, and Pac-Man can consume these for additional points as well. The monsters, once eaten, return to their home base in ghost form and return to the chase. If cleared of dots, the maze refills and the game starts again, but just a little bit faster. The game continues until a preset target score is reached, or until Pac-Man is caught by one of the monsters; the player controlling that monster is then handed the Game Boy Advance to take over Pac-Man’s role. (Namco, 2003 – for Nintendo Gamecube)

Memories: Let me just come right out and say that I have a bit of bias toward this game. Pac-Man is an all-time favorite of mine, the very reason I’m still as into video games now as I was 20+ years ago. You just can’t go wrong with Pac-Man – well, then again, maybe you can. In recent years, the character has gotten to star in a series of platform quest games, boldly going where Mario and Luigi have already gone before plenty of times themselves. As much fun as the original Pac-Man World could be, that game’s killer app was still, undoubtedly, that it could play the original arcade Pac-Man, or a slightly 3-D remake of it in “maze mode.” There hasn’t been a really good use of the Pac franchise in years – until now. Continue reading

Qix Neo

Qix NeoBuy this gameThe Game: Players control a ship capable of claiming area of the screen by “drawing” boxed-in enclosed spaces. The catch? Numerous enemies roam around the screen who want to keep this from happening, and naturally they pose the greatest threat when the player’s ship is exposed while it tries to “draw” an area. Anytime the player’s ship is away from a solid area, hanging by a thread, it can be destroyed. The player has shields that offer minor protection, but they can eventually be depleted entirely. The player has to claim enough of the screen that it equals or exceeds a pre-determined percentage of the screen area, and then the long, drawn-out battle begins anew. With each new level comes a new enemy with different offensive capabilities, until the player’s small fleet of ships is exhausted. (Mad Duck / Taito, 2003)

Memories: Marketed in the U.S. as Qix Neo, this game is actually the U.S. localization of a budget PS1 port of a Japanese arcade game vaguely related to Qix, Volfied. (Playing “Qix Neo“‘s “original” mode even shows the intro cutscene from Volfied, unchanged from the arcade edition.) But for fans of Qix, Qix Neo is close enough to the mark to count as a sequel. Continue reading

Taito Legends

Taito LegendsBuy this gameThe Game: Taito, the developer behind classics games such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, is the latest videogame developer to release a retro arcade compilation. Taito Legends brings 29 classic videogames direct from the arcade to your Xbox, PS2 and PC. (Taito, 2005, for Xbox, Playstation 2 and PC)

Memories: While skimming the list of games included in Taito Legends, I realized that I have memories associated with almost half of them. I remember playing Rastan at the local bowling alley, Operation Wolf at the skating rink (while wearing roller skates, no less), Bubble Bobble at the corner convenience store and Space Invaders at Photon, our local laser tag arena back in the 80’s. There’s no denying that Taito has been a driving force in the arcade industry since its inception. Throughout the 1950s and 60s Taito produced pinball machines, arcade cranes, and jukeboxes, but it wasn’t until the release of Space Invaders in 1978 (released in the US by Midway) that the company became a blip on America’s radar. Continue reading

Centipede / Breakout / Warlords

Centipede / Breakout / WarlordsBuy this gameThe Game: Shoot, break and destroy your way through Centipede, Breakout and Warlords, three classic Atari games now available for your Game Boy Advance. (DSI Games/Atari, 2006)

Memories: Two of DSI’s retro compilations for the Game Boy Advance are fairly similar in composition: there’s this one, the Centipede / Breakout / Warlords package, and the Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar Lander compilation. Centipede and Millipede (its sequel) are comparable, as are Breakout and Super Breakout (again, a sequel), making the main difference between the two packages Warlords vs. Lunar Lander. Continue reading

Gauntlet / Rampart

Gauntlet / RampartThe Game: DSI strikes again with Gauntlet and Rampage, two nearly perfect arcade conversions for the Game Boy Advance. In Gauntlet you’ll trade shots with ghosts, demons, and Death himself. In Rampart you’ll defend your ground and exchange buckshot with more worldly enemies. (DSI Games/Atari, 2006)

Memories: Gauntlet will be forever imbedded in my mind as the first four-player cooperative quarter eater. From the day I first saw it way back in seventh grade, the game has always held a special place in my heart. At least that’s the story I told my wife as I was moving a vintage Gauntlet arcade cabinet into our home gameroom. Continue reading

Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar Lander

Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar LanderThe Game: Relive exciting arcade action on your Gameboy Advance with the latest game pack from DSI Games. Millipede, Super Breakout and Lunar Lander, three classic games from Atari, are waiting for you! (DSI Games/Atari, 2006)

Memories: DSI Games‘ latest game pack consists of three games, Super Breakout (1978), Lunar Lander (1979), and Millipede (1982). DSI has a consistent track record of offering gamers two newer games (Gauntlet/Rampart, Paperboy/Rampage, Spy Hunter/Super Sprint) or three classic games (Pong/Asteroids/Yars’ Revenge, Centipede/Breakout/Warlords) per pack. This pack contains three classic Atari games, although none of them will hold your attention for long. Continue reading

Tron Evolution: Battle Grids

Tron Evolution: Battle GridsThe Game: In the era before Clu’s forceful takeover of the grid, Tron is kept busy with securing the digital world, leaving a vacuum from which a new champion can emerge in the grid games. Various factions have their own champions, who now battle each other on the game grid in various contests: light cycles, hyperball, disc battles, tank battles, and various vehicle races. (Disney Interactive, 2010)

Memories: Though tied into the new Tron movie, Tron Evolution: Battle Grids shows strong signs that its DNA is infused with the original movie and its associated games. Scenarios that didn’t even appear in Tron Legacy are front-and-center in Battle Grids, despite the story mode that sets up the era between the two movies. Continue reading

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