I think I’ve been to the Midway Arcade. It didn’t have that name. It may have been called Diamond Jim’s in my hometown or Woody’s World up at Geneva-On-the-Lake. It may have also been 25 years ago. But I’ve been to this arcade and I’ve played these games, and it’s good to have them again on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Some of them, anyway.
What is it?
Midway Arcade is, obviously enough, a collection of arcade games from Midway. These aren’t updated versions, mind you, but faithful reproductions of the arcade classics as you know and love them.
The initial $0.99 download includes Spy Hunter, Rampage, Joust, Root Beer Tapper, Defender and Arch Rivals, along with four arcade sims: air hockey, arcade basketball, pool and skeeball.
How does it work?
The various games are set up in a virtual arcade that looks nothing like any arcade I’ve ever visited. It’s open, it’s clean, and it doesn’t smell like body odor and cigarettes. At least I think it doesn’t. I guess that depends upon where you play it.
You move about the arcade by tapping the arrows and then tapping Play under the machine you want to play. I get the nostalgic appeal of this, but honestly, I’d much rather just have a list I can scroll through to make my selection.
Once you’ve made your selection, gameplay and controls will vary, of course. Generally, your virtual joystick is on the bottom left with your action buttons on the bottom right. These virtual controls are hit and miss; I found them adequate for games such as Spy Hunter and Joust, but they were too imprecise for easy building climbing in Rampage and to erratic for the frantic pacing of Root Beer Tapper (which I remember as Tapper).
Games such as Joust and Defender are great with Ten One Design’s Fling if you have one (and you should).
When you get bored with the included games (and you will, because that’s just what happened with games back then), you can download additional packs for $0.99 each. NARC, Total Carnage and APB are in the Action Pack, while Gauntlet, Gauntlet II and Wizard of Wor comprise the Fantasy Pack (and all representative cabinets are already in your virtual arcade, just to remind you of what you’re missing). If you’re at all serious about classic arcade gaming, you’ll consider Midway Arcade at $2.00 purchase and just go ahead an pick up the Fantasy Pack right now. Gauntlet is every bit as great as you remember it being.
Is it contagious?
On the iPad, yes. Midway never was one of my favorite arcade game developers/licensers (I think I’d have to give that to Data East), but there are some great games in here. Midway Arcade is a universal app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, but it plays better (and looks more natural) on the iPad, where the controls are easier to use.
There are some really nice touches, such as the ability to play music from your iTunes library (although I never had the app open long enough to get far into Journey’s Escape LP) and to redeem tickets for prizes. I think I could’ve done without air hockey and such, as their implementation isn’t as good as the various games dedicated to them, but they don’t interfere, either.
Looking through the list of Midway titles, I’m hoping for more DLC soon. Namely Tron, Robotron, Ms. Pac-Mac and such. I’m not sure what’s legally under the Midway name, though, so we’ll have to see. For now, get the $0.99 universal app, add the $0.99 Fantasy Game Pack with the two Gauntlet titles, crank up the Human League, and you’ll be right where you need to be for plenty of nostalgic arcade gaming fun.