Midway Arcade: Post-Script.
While my opinions of my time working with Midway have been touched upon here, I wanted to get a little more into the history of some of those titles. I always had a soft spot for two major areas of their games: The Mortal Kombat series, and their arcade classics. How could you not have a fond reverence for titles such as Defender, Robotron: 2084, Joust, Rampage, Spy Hunter and others? Not to mention in 1996 when they acquired most of Atari’s arcade classics like Gauntlet, Paperboy, and Marble Madness. I say “most” because somewhere along the way, Midway lost publishing rights to a handful of these titles, and they reverted back to “new” Atari. I never got the full story of what happened there. One day, we were publishing Asteroids, Centipede, and Crystal Castles, and then one day, we weren’t.
But I loved this series largely because of my fondness for preserving the history of gaming. Certainly, both Arcade’s Greatest Hits and Midway Arcade Treasures highlighted some real gems, but as the series progressed, the already basic interfaces got even more simplistic, and the last compilation just seemed like an afterthought to toss a few extra titles out. Even Midway Arcade Treasures 3, with its staunch emphasis on racing games, threw in the Dreamcast port of San Fransisco RUSH 2049. Not a bad port by any means, but the series wasn’t titled “Arcade and Friends”.
Leave it to Warner Bros. Interactive, fresh off showing up how they can bring Mortal Kombat to life, to show how they want to present these titles.
Is it perfect? No, but clearly, everyone can present Midway’s titles better than Midway could.
The interface for Midway Arcade is well done, looking like an arcade more out of the Pinball Hall of Fame series, or the defunct Game Room. It looks like an arcade, not to dissimilar to the old days of Aladdin’s Castle or SuperFun. But this interface actually one-ups the experience. Thanks to the iPad, your music selection can power the jukebox, meaning that if you want “Eye of the Tiger”, “Pac-Man Fever”, or anything Journey as your playlist, than so be it. Another cool feature is how they tried to make the arcade more involving than just the games. This means that the game also includes Skee-Ball, a pool table, a basketball throw machine, and air hockey. Earn enough tickets, and players can “win” prizes from the prize center. Very classy.
The game offers six arcade games and the four above mentioned additions (10 total) for .99 cents, and two packs of 4 games for .99 cents each. The arcade looks good, the game selections are decent, the price is super cheap, and hopefully, the game will see another download pack or two. But it’s with some of the games themselves that the issues arise.
First off, the game’s visual look very crisp and clear. Defender looks slightly muddy for whatever reason, but the other games look fantastic. Sounds are largely spot-on, but I’ve heard a few audio drops. Unfortunately, the real issue is controls. The virtual joystick (or lack of) is just a menace, and that’s not just for this title. It’s for the great majority of all iPhone/iPad games.
I realized how badly I was doing in controlling these particular titles when I realized my finger kept slipping off the implied controller zone. There’s no way to possibly differentiate the tactile difference between directions and “dead space”, and I certainly don’t look at my hands during a fast-paced game, so I fumbled and lost my grip more than I normally would. Because of this, Wizard of Wor is a beast to play. Some games, like Spy Hunter, try to compensate by allowing control via tilting the screen, which is partially okay, but controlling a game like APB? My cop should have been cited for driving in a drunken manner moreso than the actual felons in the game. I found it slightly amusing that the best controlling titles of the lot were the four non-video games, though Joust is acceptable.
The price is right on the money (no pun intended), and makes it easier to muddle through some of the control issues, and I really hope that they try to address the control issues better through some updates, as what they have just barely manages in some cases. But the HUB recreation and attention to detail shows that they really do have their hearts in the right place, which makes the presented effort a little more frustrating.
The cheap price and hope of fixing some issues in the future garners a “check it out” from me, but very, very cautiously. I think this title would benefit more from a console version with actual, physical controls, and a robust game download service like Zen Pinball/Pinball FX. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Midway Arcade, and will update if they do address the issues.