| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Action_Variety; loc=NA] |
|Download added: controls.jpg (17869 bytes)|
"You can freely remap the controls for every game, yay!"
Reference added: 642
"Midway Arcade Treasures 1 and 2."
Here we are again, Midway dumping another truckload of old arcade games on our hapless modern consoles. Fortunately, the ports are for the most part quite well done, and the UI is better this time around. The games themselves, on the other hand, are another matter--but I suppose you'd have to blame Midway of old for that.
Each game saves options and high scores separately, a very nice feature, except that for some reason you have to set up options in the main menu, then load the game itself. This gets annoying if you decide you want to change the controls, since you have to quit out of the game, wait for it to autosave the scores, wait for the main menu to load, go into options, change the control, wait for it to autosave the control change, then load the game back up. Also, the buttons used to access the control remapping interface are uninituitive, and it's easy to back out without it having saved your changes.
Each game also has some bonus material, including techinical summaries of the game and flyer scans. Many also have video interviews with the dev teams, but the audio in these videos is of such mindbogglingly poor quality that you really can't hear what the interviewees are saying. Maybe they need a new Key Grip or something.
Well enough of that, let's get to the games, shall we?
|Download added: apb.jpg (16152 bytes)|
"Play the Man and arrest strippers. It's almost like GTA!"
APB has always had some charm for me with its minutely detailed, cartoonish graphics. On the other hand, the game has always felt a little out of control to me. Not that I'm any good at it, but you have to rocket along these narrow streets, with only a short view ahead, and you get a demerit every time you hit something bad, like another car (if you con't have your siren going). This gets punishing, and steering, aiming, sirening, accelerating, braking and shooting all at once while trying to keep an eye out for important shops on the roadside seems like overload to me. Not only that, but the game throws all kinds of obstacles, secrets, bonuses and challenges at you relentlessly. Aaaa make it stop! Well at least here it doesn't cost a quarter.
|Download added: archrivals.jpg (17470 bytes)|
"Doesn't matter if you're winning: when time runs out, it's over."
Arch Rivals appeals to we skill-less slobs who can't play defense, even in video games: here you can forget about playing D and just punch the other guy right in the nose! As far as 2-on-2 basketball goes, I guess the two-button controls here are okay, and the characters are sharp and fairly individualized. Still, the game lacks a little dynamic flow, and aside from you motivating yourself to win, it doesn't really fire you up to charge downcourt once again. And no matter how far ahead you are, when the arbitrary credit timer runs down, your game is over (you don't lose the game because the match isn't over, but you just can't play anymore :p). I suppose you can pop in another credit at that point but geez, what a way to spoil what flow there was to the game.
|Download added: championshipsprint.jpg (19125 bytes)|
"Crushing the field in an early stage."
Championship Sprint -- now this is more like it. The steering is butter-smooth on the DualShock2's analog stick, and the little cars whip around the twisty tracks like lightning. It seems odd that they don't make motor sounds while moving... Anyway, fun game and very hard to steer down the twisting roads in later tracks, I kind of pinball back and forth because of course I'm just holding the Gas button down the entire time... I guess it might help if I had an actual analog gas pedal. Oh well. Probably more fun multiplayer than against the computer, who always steers perfectly.
|Download added: cyberball2072.jpg (15171 bytes)|
"Cyberball 2072 is about as clunky as it looks."
Cyberball 2072 is one of the dogs of the collection, as far as I'm concerned (and that's saying a lot...). I've never really been very good at playing a quarterback in most football video games, there's just too much to try to figure out in the three seconds or so you have before you'd get sacked. CB2072 simplifies that a bit with one-button control, but the player movement and animation is so clunky that the whole thing just feels poo. Also the game is ugly. So there.
|Download added: gauntlet2.jpg (23686 bytes)|
"Red Valkyrie is about to need food badly."
Gauntlet 2 seems like pretty much more of the same of Gauntlet (1). Not that that's entirely a bad thing if you have one to three other people to play with, but having for instance ghosts just keep spawning and flying right into your body has always felt a little annoying. There's really no sure defense in many situations other than pumping in another quarter.
|Download added: harddrivin1.jpg (18305 bytes)|
"Coming up to the one spot of excitement: the loop."
Hard Drivin' blew us away back in the day with, well, 3D graphics and a big driving cab. For some reason we paid about a dollar a play on the thing, which gave us about 45 seconds to swerve around an amazingly realistic flat grey road, go off a hill, and explode in a ludicrous fireball on landing. Nowadays we can tell that it looks and runs like ass. The car skids and skitters something fierce even when rounding a mild corner at moderate speed. There is absolutely no reason to punish yourself with this after the first nostalgia-fulfilling play.
|Download added: kozmik.jpg (6977 bytes)|
"Kozmik tries to get to the tractor beam yet again."
Kozmik Krooz'r is one that I don't recall seeing in the arcades of my youth, apparently it projected a live flying saucer and starfield image over the simple high-res sprite graphics. One stick steers, one shoots, which is nice and all, but the gameplay itself consists of fending off tiny little fast things while flying up to the saucer's tractor beam, over and over. The hardware gimmick doesn't mean anything here, and there's little reason to stick around.
|Download added: mk2.jpg (21405 bytes)|
"The computer pummels me once again as I can't block."
Mortal Kombat II -- I thought I liked this game, but it turns out that what I liked was the Amiga version, which had half the characters (it was more like MKI, really), even shittier animation, one-button control and blocking when you held Back. Now the digitized graphics here are okay in their own way but the animation stinks, moves feel very limited and you have to hold a separate button to Block! Gah! I just can't manage that Block button thing.
|Download added: mk3.jpg (18680 bytes)|
"Hey, I hit somebody!"
Mortal Kombat 3 - more of the same, only now there's yet ANOTHER button, Run. Well hooray!
|Download added: narc1.jpg (22781 bytes)|
"Gratuitous violence is the name of the game in NARC, God bless it."
I rather like NARC, the designers threw caution to the wind and made a ridiculously violent run-n-gun full of tasteless drug-related subject matter, like superhumanly strong PCP addicts and needle-throwing pimps. The carnage after hitting a pack of pushers with a missile is atrocious and oh so satisfying. Ah, the glory days of the "war on drugs." On the down side, the game throws so much crap at you that it seems to come down to mashing on the Missile button rather than being able to dodge all the enemy fire. And those packs of attack dogs are oh-so-annoying. I want to play this some co-op.
|Download added: pitfighter.jpg (20980 bytes)|
"This game is as good as it looks!"
What the hell happened with Pit Fighter? It's running at least twice as fast as it should be and consequently the stoic controls, never what you would call good what with all the two-frame digitized "animations," become a major drawback and you have little recourse but to mash away. Not that you're missing much, I suppose.
|Download added: primalrage.jpg (23625 bytes)|
"Rarr! I am t3h mightiest beast!"
It's kind of sad when Primal Rage is the best fighting game in an arcade compilation like this, but such is the case: not only are the four-button controls passably useful, you can also block by holding Back (take that, Mortal Kombat!). Hit detection and animation still suck the donkey, certainly, but at least it looks nice in still screenshots.
|Download added: rampage.jpg (22462 bytes)|
"Wolfing down civilians in Rampage World Tour."
Rampage World Tour's pre-rendered graphics look pretty darn sharp and colorful, and there's a lot more going on around you than in the first Rampage, but after a little play (I don't think I played this back in the arcades) it somehow doesn't have the charm of the hand-drawn prequel. Maybe it's that there's TOO much going on at once. And how are you supposed to take out those darn jetpack soldiers? I should probably find someone to play this co-op with me, but for some reason most of my friends hate Rampage.
|Download added: spyhunter2.jpg (14688 bytes)|
"I think my Spy Hunter II car is trying to turn?"
Wow, Spy Hunter II really IS bad. Bad enough that you can barely steer along the pseudo-3D roads, I mean. And there's no apparent attempt at pacing: the game seems to throw about everything from the first game at you right away. And you only have half the screen to work with, because they figured that everyone would want to play this two-player with their buddies. Man, what a turd.
|Download added: timber.jpg (17058 bytes)|
"That darn bee-throwin' bear's about to tag me in Timber."
Timber is a low-profile charmer along the lines of Tapper. I'd never seen nor heard of this game before but I'm a fan now of the left/right chopping action. Trees spring up around the little field and you've got to chop 'em down under the time limit while avoiding running into trunks, getting tangled up in downed branches or, worst of all, getting hit by a beehive thrown by a disenfranchised bear. The graphics and action are tight and simple, and the competition really heats up in two-player.
|Download added: totalcarnage1.jpg (15935 bytes)|
"Gotta blow through that mob and rescue the flags!"
Total Carnage is one of the real reasons to pick up this collection, and I particularly wanted it on PS2 so that I could use the DualShock2's analog sticks for the dual-stick control. I guess some people prefer the single-room style of the prequel, Smash T.V., to the forced scrolling in this game, and it definitely gets annoying in certain sequences, but it also makes the game feel a little more open, less confined. The amount of enemies and cheap attacks thrown at you gets quite ridiculous--this is a real quarter-muncher, no doubt about it. Heck, the first boss takes a good five minutes of solid shooting to kill! Real violent sprite madness.
|Download added: wacko.jpg (18834 bytes)|
"Scambled my monsters in Wacko."
Wacko might have made a fun action-puzzle game if it were just a little less twitchy, and if only you could shoot in eight directions instead of just four. With dual-stick control, you guide the little alien dude from Kozmik Krooz'r around a single screen with a horrible background, having to clear out the monsters by hitting pairs of them with your little shots. In later stages, if you don't hit two of the same type in a row, they swap body parts and get scrambled, and then you have to hit them in reverse order to unscamble them before you'll be able to match and clear them. This is all good stuff, but the monsters move around real fast, take up a lot of screen space, and leave little room for your twitchy craft to maneuver, particularly since you can only shoot in four directions and thus have to line your shots up along perfect horizontal or vertical lines.
|Download added: wizwar.jpg (16304 bytes)|
"Wizard of Wor hasn't aged really well."
Wizard of Wor is probably the oldest game in this compilation--it certainly plays like it, anyway. Monsters rampage around a maze and you have to shoot them in close-quarters, which isn't exactly a walk in the park. The control is rather unforgiving, and the spartan graphics are a drawback when you can't even see your own shots because it doesn't update the laser bullet sprite frequently enough. Two weird and annoying things too: monsters sometimes teleport around the maze, seemingly at random, and the CPU plays a rival monster hunter whose stray shots can kill you. Not my bag.
|Download added: xenophobe.jpg (17838 bytes)|
"That's me, way up at the top. Darn that door alien!"
I used to play a heck of a lot of Xenophobe back in the arcades. I'm not sure why, really, since at least now I find the game somewhat frustrating, but I think it may have been because I liked the cartoon sprite style and I could last fairly long on a single quarter. But the crouch/stand toggle feels too micro-managey to me now, and some of those aliens are really frustrating to fight, especially the ones who roll around as invulnerable balls, and the guy who appears in doors, zaps you, then flings you halfway across the screen while your gun drops to the floor at his feet. Argh!
I still kind of like it in a way though, and I think it's probably most fun if you can play it co-op with someone else who's into it.
|Download added: xybots.jpg (16881 bytes)|
"Double shot made short work of that Xybots baddie."
I also played a lot of Xybots as a youngster, I liked the 3D maze setup, complete with side-strafing, and the sound was good. Oh yeah, and it was fun to use coins collected in the stages to buy powerups for your character. It's still fun here, and harder than I remember (I'm losin' it...). Another one that I think is much more fun when played with a good co-op partner.
^ The first ~third of the games; hours two and three failed to capture due to the collection's game switch resolution toggle fritzing out my Framemeister upscaler device after a while. May be just as well because most of the rest of the games are pretty hideous too. They're just...remarkably unplayable; the closest would have been Rampage World Tour, which is actually sort of fun, but still rough in terms of its controls, obnoxious enemies and traps, on-and-off soundtrack, and incredibly repetitive gameplay.
It feels as though the primary concern of most of the games was to create the biggest possible spectacle to attract single quarters, rather than a pleasant play experience.
Of the games I managed to capture:
My brain is too dumb for the traditional pass/shoot two-button sports game control like Arch Rivals--but it's the most graphically pleasant game in the collection. Cyberball 2072 has only one button, and I can just bootleg it on every play, which is actually kind of fun--hate being on D, though. ; P APB, Championship Sprint, and Hard Drivin' are incredibly hard to control--must have been far better with the steering wheel etc on the actual arcade cabs (I have only incredibly vague memories of playing them as a kid back in the day). Gauntlet II is awful: let's just hammer enemies into the player constantly.
Arch Rivals and Cyberball 2072 were among the most playable games in the collection.
That podcast interview with Arch Rivals and Rampage co-creator and artist Brian Colin (did my mention of it get in the part I was able to capture? the Arch Rivals section? can't remember now) is https://www.teddabneyexperience.com/episodes/tde/ep10/briancolin
Games in the collection that I failed to capture:
- Kozmik Krooz'r (baffling)
- MKII and 3 (the control especially in II feels disembodied, like you're just hitting a memorized pattern of otherwise unconnected inputs)
- NARC (so over-the-top-hideous that it's kind of fascinating...but only for so long)
- Pit Fighter (ditto)
- Primal Rage (controls slightly better than MKII...)
- Rampage World Tour (kind of fun; still jerky control, and awfully repetitive)
- Spy Hunter II (absolutely awful pseudo 3D view, what were they thinking?)
- Timber (nearly playable but for some reason touching a tree hammers you to the ground)
- Total Carnage (semi-playable but the over-the-top violence gets obnoxious--the first stage boss alone takes like ten solid minutes of shooting to kill--as does cheap stuff like the screen-filling grape jelly shrapnel from exploding barrels, and MOVING MINES)
- Wacko (charming graphics but the worst-ever sound effect every time you shoot an enemy, causing it to vibrate in place bizarrely; and crippled by only four-way shooting)
- Wizard of Wor (just so jerky)
- Xenophobe (nice art but interminable crawling gameplay)
- Xybots (lots of interesting stuff but hard to spot peripheral enemies in the 3D maze, and every time you die you have to restart the entire level)
(One of the worst control features is an obsession with making the player press separate buttons for crouching or low attacks--MK, NARC, Xenophobe. UGH.)
(And many of the games have AWFUL sound effects. Although I may have had my headphones turned up too high, which wouldn't have been helping. The collection has no volume setting option.)
The emulation or whatever by Digital Eclipse seems to be pretty good. Surprisingly sharp, blur-free graphics, even in just 480i. Haven't tested for input delay... There's probably a bit, but not enough to be noticeable...or were there really bad input problems accounting for some of the jerkiness? But I didn't get the impression it was systemic jerkiness--it felt more like each game had its own, purposefully programmed original jerkiness.