Monday, April 27, 2009

AAA looks at: Midway Arcade Treasures 1 part 1

Now I'm going to look at Midway Arcade Treasures 1 for the Playstation 2. If you haven't already picked this up it might be worth your while since it can be had for less than $5. It isn't perfect or at times even decent unfortunately but I'll get to that later.

720 is an odd beast as it's a Skateboarding game. You start off in a skate park filled with an assortment of stunts and obstacles to avoid, you're on a timer to buy whatever equipment you need to boost your stats and score enough points to get tickets for the next trial. Running out of time causes a swarm of bees to chase you down, once you're caught it's game over. 

The trials consist of what you'd expect from a skateboarding game. There's the ramp for doing stunts, a slalom which is short but in order to get a good score one has to do it quickly and hit every flag-gate, and two trials for mastering the spin jump. Doing these well also nets cash for upgrades, which makes accomplishing tasks easier. Overall this game is really not for me but I can see why it has fans. For what it is it's exceptionally well done and I see little fault to it.

Joust - This classic has a simple concept. Like many older games this one is broken up into waves of increasing difficulty. In order to win you must run into enemies while flying higher than they are. Doing this knocks them out of the sky and their buzzard and turns them into eggs. Collect the eggs while they're still in the air for more points or when they're on the ground for less. If you wait too long eventually the eggs hatch back into enemies and a buzzard will come by to pick them up. 

Like many simpler games however the difficulty more than makes up for the lack of complexity. Joust uses a rather rudimentary momentum-based system for the controls. So if you fall for a long distance you'll have to hit the flap button much faster to regain altitude. Also though it sounds like a good idea to "ride" the ceilings by keeping yourself near the top to be invincible to nearly all challengers the game takes care in causing you to bump off of ceilings somewhat like a pinball and thus become easy prey for the buzzards. Wasting too much time on a wave causes a pterodactyl to appear who is neigh invincible unless you can nail it directly in the mouth with your lance(easier said than done of course).

While this is essentially the game I would be lying if I told you this wasn't a classic in every sense of the word. Unfortunately everything great about this game is pretty much ruined by its sequel.

Joust II never reached the same level of success Joust I had in the arcades and after playing it I can see why. J2 adds a large number of additions to the game, perhaps too large a number. There's so much to keep track of now that the addictive and well-designed gameplay of the first game is largely ignored.

Okay first off you've got this transform ability where you turn from a flying ostrich to a flying lion. It sounds great at first except with the lion you're mostly just a larger & slower target that can't hardly fly. One would think that using the lion to get kills would result in more points but that's not the case at all. Each wave now consists of brand new level designs. Variety is great sure but most of the level designs are quite poor as they feel more like mazes than arenas, thus making the game feel cramped. That's not even considering the traps that feel more like an excuse to take lives away to show off the new continue system that's been added in(yes you can insert coins to continue in this game, unlike the prequel).

It only goes further downhill from here. The vultures are the same as they ever were, except now they've taken on new properties. Originally if an egg fell in the lava it was gone and you were out a bunch of points. In this game? Now the egg causes some mutation that creates a super buzzard. Sure he's not much harder to get rid of than a regular buzzard but was this really necessary? Some stages have a lot of lava and the player can't be expected to keep getting attacked by buzzards over not being able to grab all of the eggs. Also when an egg hatches instead of being helpless the enemies will swing their lances around causing death for anyone silly enough to attempt to collect them. Again all this does is add needless complication instead of depth(actually you're supposed to be in lion form to collect these guys..but still is all this really necessary?). Really this is one terrible sequel and should be avoided at all costs.

Blaster - I've got one word for this game: Yikes. If you can somehow make sense of what's going on in this game(if the building is shooting at you chances are it's not a building) then feel free to let me know if it's any good. But from what little I could play before I got sick of it and quit it seemed absolutely atrocious.

Bubbles - You're a bubble and you go around collecting ants, crumbs, and other icky things until you grow large enough that you have a face(!?) and can seep into the drain for a ton of points. Sharp objects, roaches, and other much nastier things will be out to kill you though. Old ladies with brooms will sometimes come around to sweep up ants and build up a large amount of bonus points(and possibly giving you a broom to take out one roach) and that's about the extent of it. I imagine this game was originally played using a trackball as playing with the analog stick is rather difficult. Otherwise I guess if you really have absolutely nothing better to do you could look at this game. It's certainly an improvement over the last two games I talked about.

Klax - It's the 90s...or at least 1989 so everyone must play Klax. Like any falling block puzzler success is measured by how good you are at matching similar objects together. In this case tiles flip their way down a path and you have to arrange them horizontally, diagonally, or vertically in at least three in order to score points. That's not all though as the game is broken up into missions where you have to accomplish particular tasks. Whether this calls for X number of diagonal tiles or survive for so long it doesn't really matter as they're pretty easy to figure out. If you missed this game the first time around almost 20 years ago why not give it a shot? It's not bad at all.

Smash TV - I've talked about this game before but I'm only mentioning it again in this post because the Midway Arcade Treasure's version is really not a good port at all. There are severe framerate issues and they make the game simply too difficult to get anywhere. If you're interested in the game(and by my opinion you should be) I'd recommend the Xbox live Arcade version.

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