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Midway's Arcade Greatest Hits - Midway/Williams

by S. Ives (Scorpion1999@worldnet.att.net)

Lowdown:

    Lowdown: Six Williams' arcade classics come to the Saturn. Known as "Williams' Arcade Greatest Hits" on PSX and "Williams' Arcade Classics" on PC, this package sports emulated versions of Bubbles, Defender, Defender II (formerly Stargate), Joust, Robotron 2084, and Sinistar.
When you load WAC, after the title screen, credits, and intros, an interface lets you select one of the six games. Not only can you play them but you also get to see the histories of the games, as well as see FMV of interviews with the game designers. You can see & hear Eugene Jarvis talk about Robotron and his ongoing quest to "kick the game's (CENSORED)"- you don't hear him say the swear word, instead, he's humorously bleeped out with the Defender sound of a humanoid being kidnapped. Here is the story on all six of the games, emulated directly from the arcade versions to ensure arcade perfection:

Defender: A really tough (and sometimes infuriating) side-scroll shooter. You fly the Defender spaceship over the planet surface, guarding 10 humanoids from the Landers that attempt to kidnap them to make Mutants. Your scanner lets you get an overview of the action and is a big help. A humanoid will make kind of a chirpy distress cry when shanghaied by a Lander. Quick, go kill that Lander- and be sure to catch the humanoid before he falls to his doom. If all humanoids die, every remaining Lander will become a dreaded Mutant after your planet spectacularly explodes. Starting with the second wave, Bombers litter the sky with mines, Pods release Swarmers when shot, and Swarmers are aggressive small UFO's that fly somewhat erratically while tracking you. In addition to your ship's laser cannon, there is a Smart Bomb that kills everything in sight. You have just 3, but earn extra SB's with every bonus ship.

Defender II: All the enemies in Defender, with extra enemies such as Dynamos, Space Hums, Big Reds, Yllabian Space Guppies, and Firebombers. Now you have the Inviso button, which acts as sort of a ramming shield. The Stargate is one of the major additions, which will warp you to another area of the planet. If a humanoid is being kidnapped, you'll go right to him if you use the Stargate. Also added to this game are "Yllabian Dogfight" levels featuring Space Guppies and other enemies, as well as "Firebomber Showdown" stages.

Joust: Ride your ostrich and confront the Buzzard Riders. You can walk on the petrified clouds as well as fly around by hitting the flap button. When you "Joust" a Buzzard Rider, you defeat him if your lance is higher than his. He can defeat you by doing likewise. Defeated BR's turn into eggs that you must pick up before they hatch into stronger foes. Clear waves quickly, or the Pterodactyl will come after you. However, the Pterodactyl is not really as "undefeatable" as he would seem.

Robotron 2084: The Robotrons used to serve mankind, but now have learned to think for theirselves, much to the chagrin of the last surviving humans who they now see as basically inferior and worthless. It's time for one man with a big gun to do some 'bot-kickin in a bid to purge the planet of this threat!! Fight off the Grunts who are always hot on your trail, while being on the lookout for Spheroids and those daggone Enforcers they produce. Indestructible Hulks will kill any humans they come across (even you if you veer too close to them.) Brains are out to transform the humans into Progs, who serve the Robotrons and consequently must be killed. You'll also encounter pesky Tank-producing Quarks. Tanks are vicious robots that mill about shooting some vile rebounding cannonballs. As you battle the Robotrons, grab and rescue humans to boost your score. Avoid the Galvanizing Electrodes, which act as land mines. Basically, blow the heck out of anything that moves if it isn't human. One cool way to kill Grunts is to let them run over the Electrodes.

Sinistar: An evil alien empire has plans to build their super-weapon, the Sinistar. Guess who gets to stop them? And there's no guarantee it will be an easy task. Oh no. But, your ship has the capacity to manufacture and shoot the Sinibomb, the one weapon known to damage this behemoth. This requires Sinisite crystals, which can be blasted off of asteroids. So, journey through the asteroid belts to mine that Sinisite, using your lasers to rip up the Worker ships who want to use that stuff to make the Sinistar. But..Warrior ships have been sent out to attack anyone who intervenes- and that means you. Collisions with rocks, warriors, or workers don't kill you- in fact there are only two ways to die: getting shot by a Warrior or being swallowed by the Sinistar's big mouth. Eventually, the battle leads to the confrontation with the Sinistar, who chases your spaceship in an attempt to eat it, while spouting forth lots of cool trash talk ("Run, coward! Run! ROOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH!!!"). This is when you really need the Sinibombs- to tear it apart piece by nasty little piece. Kill that sucker and you're on to the next zone. Fail, and kiss your homeworld goodbye as the Sinistar has it for dessert.

Bubbles: Lots of krud can be found in the sink. As a bubble, you clean this stuff up. Doing this makes the bubble grow, eventually large enough to knock the evil brushes into the sink. Roaches, who just love the taste of soap, come up from the drain to eat the bubble. You've got to "borrow" the cleaning lady's broom to snuff out the gross bugs. Get the sink cleaned up and down the drain you go to another one- unless your bubble is too small in which case it'll go pop.

Graphics: 6

  • - Not up to par with the current arcade games,
  • + But they're arcade perfect versions of early 80's titles.
  • - Defender & Stargate don't have as much pizzazz as the others in the pack.
  • + Defender II does do a nice graphic makeover to a couple enemies that were in the first game- like the red lights on the Landers.
  • + Robotron: The enemies really resemble robots. For a 1982 game, the graphics are great. The humans animate well as they wander around waiting for your help.
  • + Joust: Great animation on the birds. Nice shading on the petrified clouds. The Lava troll hand looks really wicked.
  • - Joust: Plain black background. Lava has a solid red color without any texture.
  • + Sinistar: Looks very nice. Warrior ships and Rocks are detailed and seem to have a rendered look, but the Sinistar is the crowning jewel of the game's graphics.
  • - Sinistar: Worker ships look an awful lot like Galaxians. Your space fighter is quite small and hasn't much detail.
  • + Bubbles: I'd say this game ties with Robotron for the best graphics found in this pack. Your bubble develops a cool-looking smiley face as it grows. Cockroaches animate so well they're creepy, and die convincingly when killed with the broom. Razor blades are nicely drawn. The scum in the sink that you clean up looks well-depicted. The brushes and sponges have cute looking angry faces on them. Rather than a black background, you're in a sink.
Sound/Music: 7
  • - These games don't have a lot of music.
  • - What music there is does sound 8-bit.
  • + But again, this sticks to the arcade, and is composed well (like the Dan-da-da-da in Bubbles for an extra life).
  • + Robotron has excellent sound for explosions and laser blasts in particular.
  • + You gotta love the Sinistar's menacing voice. "Run Coward! RUN!"
  • - Lame sound in Sinistar for when your ship explodes. Why not a big "KABLAM!"?
  • + Joust has good sounds for the birds' wing flapping. I like the Pterodactyl's growls ("Ryew-Gew! Reeeghr!"), though that sound in particular may get on some people's nerves.
  • + Killing Buzzard Riders in Joust produces a satisfying "THOOM!" sound.
  • + Defender and D2 feature nice laser shooting sounds. Mutants make rather pesky ("Keeerrrwww!") but appropriate sounds when they attack.
  • + Bubbles has good audio as well, especially the sounds when your bubble gets popped.
Gameplay/Control: 8
  • + Robotron is a shooter's paradise when played with two big joysticks. Imagine running across the screen and picking off groups of unlucky Grunts on the way, as well as any that get too close- and also running from a pack of mad Enforcer scum while taking them out one by one.
  • - The Defender games feature a dumbing-down of the control. You do not use Thrust and Reverse buttons, instead you press the joystick left to go left, right to go right. Basically, like playing the arcade game with the Atari 800 version's control setup.
  • + But I don't mind that though, it's still Defender- this doesn't really hurt the game play.
  • + One big key to Joust is learning the physics behind the flight of the bird. This endows the game with more depth than one would think.
  • + Bubbles' control may take a little getting used to, but works well.
  • - The control in Bubbles requires tap-tap motions sometimes for slower moves. But, the arcade didn't use a real analog stick either.
  • - Sinistar only has 8-directional control, compared to the 40-some directions in the arcade game's custom joystick controller. This is the only flaw in an otherwise exact home version of the game. Purists are gonna' fume.
Lasting Power: 9
  • + Saves your high scores- so you can try to beat them.
  • + You can adjust the game options using the arcade configuration screens (give yourself more lives, raise or lower the required points for an extra life, or face the ultimate Robotron challenge on skill level 10.)
  • + Joust has 2-player simultaneous play. If you're ruthless, you can off your partner for 2000 points (and also a bonus in Gladiator Waves!). Though team play is the best way to go.
  • + Most of the games will only allow you 5 spots on the high score list, so you can't hog it and shut your friends out. If you get a 6th high score, your lowest entry is thrown out.
Overall: 7.5

Six of Williams' arcade games from the early 80's are emulated very well. They look, play, and sound just like the arcade versions. Alas, this is not for everyone as the games are quite dated as opposed to stuff like Narc or Smash TV. But they're good.

-S. Ives




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