Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
In days of yore, the Atari Corp begat unto the world three arcade games. And lo, their names were Centipede, Breakout and Missile Command. Many people flocked to the arcades to play these hallowed machines, until they were pushed into obscurity by superior technology, hydraulic cabinets and Virtual Reality.
Then, one day, Virgin Games decided to convert these three classic games unto the Master System, to spread their message of killing insects, blasting nukes and smashing bricks to new gamers everywhere. And so, the three game compilation cartridge Arcade Classics was born unto the Sega Master System.
There is little more we can say about the cartridge here. Check out each box for a detailed description of each of the games contained in the package.
The first game on the list is Centipede. In this Space Invaders-esque game it is your job to protect a mushroom patch from evil insects by shooting them as they enter from the top of the screen. You can move all along the baseline of the screen, as well as some limited forward movement. The hordes include snails, spiders and flies, but the biggest threat are the centipedes. These many-legged marauders head in from the top of the screen, snaking downwards from left to right and changing direction every time they hit a mushroom or the screen edge. Should you shoot the centipede in the head, it loses one body section but continues onward. If you shoot a centipede in the body, it splits in two, and keeps halving with every shot until you have tens of one or two block long centipedes running amok. The mushrooms act as cover for these blighters, but they can be shot away to dear a target path, although every time a creature is destroyed their remains turn into mushrooms. Should you come into contact with any of the insects, you lose a life and all the destroyed mushrooms are re-planted.
Breakout is the second game in Arcade Classics. The gameplay is pretty simple - you are a bat and must use your spheroid-deflecting skills to bounce an energy ball against a wall of bricks. Once all the bricks have been completely destroyed by this activity, you move on to the next, more challenging screen. The difficulty level is upgraded by strange wall formations (which lead to some confusing ball-spin frolics) and bricks which take more than one hit to destroy.
The final title is the coin-op classic, Missile Command. This puts you in the boots of an SDI commander in charge of three anti-missile sites. Using a cursor, you target your guns to shoot down incoming missiles aimed at the six cities you have chose to defend. Unfortunately, the missiles are constantly in motion and your guns are quite slow, so it is essential to target where the missile will be as opposed to where it is when you fire. Your task is made harder by planes and sattelites who drop bombs upon your cannons ()losing you precious ammunition) and even special devices which split into four warheads and spread out, thus making your job much harder. Once all six cities have been nuked, it’s game over, although staving off the attacks for long enough allows blasted towns to be rebuilt.
An amazing screen from Centipede.
Where's the centipede?
Ooh, looky here! It's a big wall of bricks awaiting complete destruction by your bat.
Smash those bricks!
Incoming nukes in Missile Command.
More Missile Command action here.
Those missiles just keep on coming.
Get those pesky missiles.
Aaaghh! What I thought would be a fun-packed stroll down memory lane has been turned into a miserable charabang trip through naff conversion land! Considering that the original arcade machines were simple in the extreme, these Master System copies should be nigh on perfect. But they’re not, and are instead awful hatchet job versions. They're sort of fun for a while in their own simple way, but don't offer half the entertainment and nostalgia that they would if they’d been properly researched and playtested. An opportunity missed methinks. Hopefully we'll see an Arcade Classics II which makes full potential of its games. And if such a game is to be made, my vote is for Scramble, Hunchback and Asteroids Deluxe. Or maybe Phoenix, Carnival and Zaxxon...
Arcade Classics is probably on of those things which seemed like a good idea at the time. Get three classic arcade games, spruce up the graphics and sound and release them all on one cart. Unfortunately, the programmers of Arcade Classics neglected to update the gameplay. This means that, with the exception of the timeless Missile Command, the sheer simplicity of the games is their undoing. Breakout is mildly amusing for about three minutes, except for the epilepsy-inducing scrolling backgrounds and grating, repetitive tune, but all too soon the lack of features makes even Crackout seem innovative and entertaining. Centipede is just a dire excuse for a game by anyone's standards, the controls are over-responsive and the collision detection is ludicrously bad. Even Missile Command has lost its appeal somewhat. The switching between sites is okay once you get used to it, but by an ironic twist of fate, the one enhancement made to the package seals the doom of its top game. The path of the missiles is not tracked as it was in the coin op, which makes predicting their flight much trickier and more time consuming, especially as they seem to change direction! Arcade Classics might be fun for a while, especially if you remember the originals and fancy a quick nostalgia fix. Sadly, the package is a remarkable disappointment with each game actually being inferior to their aged arcade counterparts.