Astrocade gaming.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve been enjoying the ‘Living Room Console‘ at Archive.org which is a collection of vintage games consoles and games which you can play directly from within a webrowser. If you haven’t tried it yet, head on over there right now for some great retro gaming fun –  I find running it with Firefox give you a massive speed boost compared to Internet Explorer and certainly a massive improvement than using Chrome (come on Google, you’re my web browsing weapon of choice!).

Of the emulated consoles available, the Bally Astrocade is  the only one that I’ve never had the pleasure of playing before (digital or physically) and I’m absolutely loving  what this little box of faux woodgrain and smoked plastic has to offer.

They’re not wrong, for late 70’s tech, the Astrocade sure is a ‘Professional Arcade’.

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..but enough messing with the Calculator and Creative Crayon, here’s a look at some of my new favourites.

Galactic Invasion 2011

This is really nice Galaxians clone which is surprisingly very well animated considering it’s age and compared to the Atari 2600 version for example. Sadly, there’s no sound via this online emulator so you’ll have to make up your own. I recommend ‘pyu-pyu’ for your laser and a Duke Nukem ‘Hail to the king baby’ when you’ve completed a wave.

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The Incredible Wizard.

This Wizards of Wor style game has been seriously eating into my free time this week, its one superb little arcade game. Basically, run around the dungeon trying not to get hit by any of the evil Wizards minions…well, they must be evil right? Anyone that looks at you in a funny way, give them a blast with your wizarding stick. Further into the game, you’ll come up against the big cheese who shall not be named . Smyte him with extreme prejudice and thy shall be rewarded.

That radar at the bottom of the screen will come in handy later on as it appears  that said evil minions have nicked Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Sneaky boggers!

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Space Fortress

Reminiscent of an old VIC-20 game I used to play called Cyclon Zap, Space Fortress will test your reflexes as you defend your ship against enemy assault from all sides. Space Fortress is one of those accessible games which anyone can pick it up an instantly get playing yet still provides a  real challenge for veteran shooters.

Move your (yellow) cannon up, down, left or right and shoot anything that appears on screen. Everything starts off nice and slowly at first giving you plenty of reaction time to move and shoot. Gradually the game gets faster and faster and you’ll really need to be on your game to keep alive. If not, don’t worry, there’s actually a rather nice screen filling explosion effect to watch should your Space Fortress get hit.

Loving these Astrocade colourful pixels.

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Cosmic Raider

Looking and playing a little bit like Defender, this fun little schmup is great fun for a short time. What is impressive is how smoothly it runs and scrolls even when there’s plenty of activity on screen. I wonder if the game on the original hardware was this smooth?

Great games, and great box covers too.

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iOS gaming: Midway Arcade

If you missed the opportunity of grabbing the ultimate arcade emulator ‘MAME’ for your iPhone/iPad during its very brief appearance on the Apple app store, then Warner Bros’ release of Midway Arcade might be just what you need?

Midway Arcade is currently on offer for 69p/$0.99 and for that you get access to six classic arcade games with options to buy more via the in app store.

The available games are –

Defender
Spy Hunter
Joust
Arch Rivals
Root beer Tapper
Rampage

Further purchases can unlock-

Gauntlet 1and 2
A.P.B
Total Carnage
Narc
Wizards of Wor

What makes Midway Arcade such a great app though is the presentation of these games by recreating a digital version of a typical arcade from the 80’s. If you’re of the era, then prepare to go back in time!

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Dodgy patterned and worn carpets, neon signs, symphony of digital beeps, game posters, change machines, it’s all here. You can almost smell the stale popcorn, smoke and under topped Pizza’s.

Let take a tour of our arcade.

Starting on the first floor we see the highly detailed Defender and Spy Hunter cabinets. You. N pan around and look at them from any angle. Gotta love that funky steering wheel.

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On past Arch Rivals and Root Beer tapper and we stop by Joust for a minute or too…actually, I’ll catch up with you later, I’ll be some be some time with Joust.

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Downstairs and before hitting the cabinets again, grab a drink and a few rounds of touch screen Pool.

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Never was an APB fan but always like the side art.

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Stopped by the Rampage cabinet for some monster mayhem with George and co. before shooting some balls.

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Yay, won some tickets so headed over to the prize desk to cash them in. Damn it, only enough tickets to get this izzy doll, got my heart set on a 720″ skateboard 🙂

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So how do the games play? Well, emulation is spot on and as far as touch screen controls go they actually work pretty well. Defender, Joust and Tapper in particular transform quite well and the added options of multiple control type/buttons for Spy Hunter means that you can pick one to suit.

Tilt, d-pad or funky virtual wheel..your choice.

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Sadly Rampage suffers as the eight-way virtual stick is not precise enough to handle the diagonals required to scale the buildings and so gameplay is a tad frustrating. To be honest, even the original arcade cabinet with real joysticks was always a bit hit and miss.

Games can be played in either landscape or portrait mode. The latter giving non portrait oriented games a splash of marque and control panel artwork.

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Of the titles I’ll be unlocking, Total Carnage is on the top of my list. Here’s hoping for virtual dual stick controls. Gauntlet is ok but the original was fun because it could be played with up to three other mates, its doubtful this emulated version can replicate that.

I think WB/Midway have got it spot on with the presentation of this app. O.k so so the mini games aren’t actually that good but they compliment the digital arcade very well. Add in the ability to play your own iTunes music in the background (preferably something from the 80’s) whilst smacking away on a quick round of Air Hockey will no doubt bring back all those happy gaming memories. Taito, Capcom, Atari, take note, this is how to present your arcade games!

Oh and Warner Bros’, two things.

Where’s the flippin iCade support! How can you present these classic games and omit the one great device that was built for such apps? Sort it out!

Secondly, can you bring this to my digital arcade please?

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