Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Midway Arcade is the latest compilation of retro apps to hit the App Store, containing a variety of titles from the archives of Midway. A dozen games are included, with six included with the game: Defender, Joust, Arch Rivals (the spiritual predecessor to NBA Jam), Root Beer Tapper, Spy Hunter, and Rampage. The rest are available in two in-app purchase packs. The first, for $0.99 includes: NARC, Total Carnage, and APB. The other includes: Gauntlet, Gauntlet 2, and Wizard of Wor. These cover a variety of genres, from action classics to driving games, and even a couple non-traditional genres.
What Midway Arcade does best is that it features more than just a list of games, as all the games are in a virtual arcade, giving the collection a sense of liveliness that other compilations lack. Editor's note: Atari's arcade compilation does something similar. The arcade cabinets in the virtual arcade all appear to be based off of their actual cabinets, giving it a sense of historical authenticity. There are Game Center leaderboards for each game as well. There are even arcade basketball, billiards, roll ball, and air hockey tables that add to the atmosphere, and tickets that can be earned for little knick-knacks from various games in the compilation. It’s a fantastic value as well: $0.99 for six arcade games plus the aforementioned ‘real’ games as a universal app, and $0.99 each for three-packs of titles as in-app purchases. Hopefully more games will be made available, with additional interface tweaks.
The issue here is the controls. The on-screen joysticks are all simulated analog sticks, even for games with digital controls. Games that support 8-way movement like Total Carnage, Gauntlet, and NARC all work really well, the rest suffer from issues. The two driving games, APB and Spy Hunter support tilt controls, but they are very sensitive and extremely difficult to handle reliably. The game lacks iCade support, which for this game is pretty much a sin. As well, multiplayer is lacking, although this would likely would have been a tricky addition without some kind of technology like GGPO implemented to facilitate the lag that would come from wireless multiplayer, even in local form. Still, not having co-op in a game like Gauntlet is a very lacking omission that causes the game to lose a lot of the fun it would have otherwise had.
Despite the control issues, this is still a fantastic compilation for fans of classic arcade games. The effort that went into making this more than just a bunch of repackaged arcade titles makes it worth checking out for that alone.