Game Over Online ~ Midway Arcade Classics

GameOver Game Reviews - Midway Arcade Classics (c) Pocket Express, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Midway Arcade Classics (c) Pocket Express
System Requirements Palm OS 3.0, Palm III, 150K - 1.2MB free memory
Overall Rating 78%
Date Published Thursday, October 11th, 2001 at 04:53 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Of late, venerable maker Midway has turned away from its traditional coin-op routes over to other platforms in hopes to catch on emerging trends. In truth, arcades have almost outlasted their purpose. Today, the cutting edge PC and console machines that one could play from the comfort of one's own home is much more preferable to a local trip to the arcades. Playing with multiple players is not alien to PC players and even console players are getting into the online arena as well. With the burgeoning online genre, we also have the introduction of real-time voice and probably, later on, even forms of video, so the in-your-face matches at local arcades may soon be a thing of the past. And of course, the best reason to play games at home is probably the fact that you don't have to insert another quarter. In North America, arcades have developed a seedy reputation (unlike say in Japan) and as gaming is hitting the mainstream audiences, undoubtedly people will want to move into a more respectable arena.

Any casual patron of Midway will undoubtedly remember the sounds of "Midway presents" on a host of titles. Most memorable would be games like NFL Blitz or NBA Hangtime. Indeed, Midway has been with arcades since its infancy and its library of titles is vast; vast enough that is, to license to multiple developers on equally different platforms. I've seen Midway compilations on the PC and the Dreamcast. And now, Midway comes into the 'palm' of your hand (pun intended). Pocket Express, seasoned from creating other Palm titles, puts its magic to work on a series of Midway titles including Spy Hunter, Joust, Defender 2, Sinistar and Root Beer Tapper.

What you get from the Midway collection is actually an artificial bundle of several games that you can purchase individually from Pocket Express. It is more like a suite and despite the deceptive install modules, these Midway games can operate on their own. In fact, there's no central application on your Palm to launch the various components of the collection. Each title is given the same Pocket Express treatment. You can define the control schema and configure game options uniformly across all the titles. Luckily, the registration code also carries out through all the titles and saved me from hacking it in via Graffiti. And definitely, Pocket Express deserves kudos for simplifying the mundane.

Gameplay is done entirely through the Palm keys and though the configuration leeway you have is vast, the stylus is relegated to nothing but pausing the game. For some titles, like Spy Hunter, the developers have it that you don't have to continuously press a key to accelerate your car. However, in other titles, you have to continuously press certain buttons (and in the case of Defender 2, the accelerate and up/down buttons) in order to keep the game moving. I'm not sure why you can't combine both the stylus or opt for one or the other. J-Five, from Jimmy Software, used the stylus to move the on-screen ship with the buttons acting as secondary keys. This would have been more preferable with a title like Defender 2. Perhaps it is related to how the games are ported over to the Palm platform.

The games will run on most modern Palm platforms from the Palm III and upwards. On monochrome screens, the Pocket Express suite requires a pretty high contrast in order to be considered playable. This is a minor annoyance but I'm not sure why it exists. Ultimately, your mileage with this suite will vary. Monochrome presentation works fine with Spy Hunter but for Sinistar or Defender 2, the color version is infinitely better. Some of the games are more geared towards PDA play than others. I particularly liked Spy Hunter and of course everyone will remember Joust. Yet I kept hoping for a real smash title and Joust's simplicity just didn't seem to be it. Namco, for example, has a smash title with Pac-Man. Indeed, Pac-Man is actually preserved in the Smithsonian.

You can beam your games to your friends, after which they’ll be able to play each game ten times before being forced to register them. This is an option I think almost all PDA developers should include (provided their titles are of small size). Furthermore, high scores can be exported and uploaded to the web. But like I mentioned before, unless you have a particular affinity with this group from Pocket Express, some games will undoubtedly be left in trial mode. And at that time, buying portions of the suite individually might not seem like a bad deal after all. Altogether, this might not necessarily be the developers' fault. They are, indeed, working from ports of Midway's old classics and what titles they have to work with are ultimately at the mercy of Midway itself.

[07/10] Addictiveness
[14/20] Gameplay
[12/15] Graphics
[07/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[04/05] Sound
[04/05] Discreetness
[13/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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