Data East Arcade Classics Review: Playing The Games That Made The Arcades Great

Data East Arcade Classics Review: Playing The Games That Made The Arcades Great
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Welcome Back To The Arcades

Now let’s be upfront bhy sayng that the New York Arc’s I used to attend were a bit seedy – but that was part of the fun. You ignored the stupid Skee-ball and the even stupider prizes that gathered dust in the rafters and searched out for the latest Arcade machine that had been wheeled in, dusted off and plugged in. Or you just looked for the biggest crowd of onlookers crouched around one dude to know which machine was the “hot” one for the day.

Which more often than not was being powered by Data East. Now understand that arcade games back in the day (the “20th Century:) were’t exactly running high-end graphics like today’s consoles – not that you knew any better since hindsight requires the passage of time. What you DID get was damn good game-play, a “hook” that kept you dropping quarters as you tried to succeed, excel or just beat the bejeepers out of that final Boss. Or at least get your name on the charts before you had to return to the boring real world of dinner, homework and family.

So bringing 15 of these guys to the Wii seems a no-brainer; the Wii’s graphics don’t get strained in anyway, and your arm gets a workout from using the Wii remote instead of a handheld controller that usually got your fingers all jammed up. Open the box, pop the disc in (hey- that’s almost like a quarter!) and off we go.

Video, Here We Go (4 out of 5)

Caveman Ninja

Like I said, the graphics don’t strain. Or get confused for photo-realistic either. The look is smooth 16 bit, which is to say the colors are a bit garish and detail can get muddled from too much contrast. But on the positive side, the screen isn’t being smeared by frames being dropped (or unknown substances like sometimes were found on the arcade screen). Also, text is a lot easier to read on a bigger TV than the 19-inch size of the computer monitors. Now for sure some of the games look much better than the graphics on the box – while others don’t even come close (Secret Agent comes to mind). I kinda dig the way the Dino stalks the caveman as he strives to rescue his mate tied to the log at the end of the pier (yes, I have no idea how the Dino worked the ropes and for sure it’s sexist but c’mon loosen up). Great power ups that look as good as you’d expect although Caveman Ninja seems a kind of mixed metaphor.

Sound Off (4 out of 5)

Bad Dudes

Audio is always important - try turning off the TV during a movie – and in retro games like this the sound is even more obviously a return to a time when sound effects weren’t coming off of digitized digital files. The synthesized music and sound effects have no trouble being played by the Wii, and if you close your eyes it sounds exactly like the classic Nintendo-ease quality that blared out of the speakers in consoles that dimmed with age – or when the arcade owner has had enough and cranked the sound down. Bad Dudes reminds me what the quality of sound is all about - you can’t help but smile when you hear the “Arghs!” and “Ows” and “Blamphs” that “fist upon fist” can do to a guy. Or try and figure out why the President’s name is “Ronnie.”

Gameplay - Plenty Of Games To Play (5 out of 5)

All of the games are two player, so maybe now’s a good time to get another Wii remote or one of those classic controllers. Actually you can use the Nunchuck or one of those Gamecube arcade-type controller. So basically however you want to play these games - you can. You can decide which kind of controller you prefer and then spend a few minutes getting up to speed for using it. No big deal and my preference is a classic controller because frankly I’m a button-hog and holding the Wii remote sideways to use it might be sensible but seems a bit odd. Still, it works fine for pretty much any game, like Heavy Barrel or Street Hoop for example, though not so much,with Side Pool.

What You Get and What You Can Do With It (5 out of 5)

Back of game box

You’d hope that the folks at Majesco would work with the Data East title and you wouldn’t be disappointed. Built into the games are 75 different goals that will let you unlock music soundtrack rewards, Gallery items and classic arcade marquees along with other surprises. And yes you can pause any game and then return to where you left off – a massive improvement over what would happen in the arcades while the countdown timer taunted you to throw away yet another quarter. Of course that depends upon how many games you’ve managed to work your way through, because you only start with a few unlocked until you build up your attacks and skill level.

And if you want (or feel the need), you can link your high scores to your Mii characters and let others know just how good your ‘retro” skills are.