Please Mother, can I have another... quarter? As long as I can remember pizza parlors have had arcade games, and as long as I can remember I've wanted to play them. Until I was in high school my Mom bankrolled my pizza and video game habit. Mom thought that video game arcades were dens of sin, full of drug dealers and kidnappers. So my brother, sister, and I were reduced to playing what we could; shopping centers and convenience stores occasionally offered a game or two, but pizza parlors always had the most hits. This was back in the day when the Williams logo on the side of a stand up said it all, makers of Defender, Joust, and all the biggest games.
Although it's not the newest cart available for the game.com, Williams' Arcade Classics brings at least some of these titles back to the forefront; this time in a portable form. Because it's an older title, I got it on sale, and the first day I played over 60 games (paying for itself in quarters). How could anyone resist playing Defender, Defender II, Robotron, SiniStar, and Joust for free. Even without color, the game.com's arcade classics are more addictive than they ever were in the arcade or on the Atari. It is the portability that is so alluring, as anyone with a Gameboy and Tetris can tell you. I found myself playing Defender while watching TV, riding in the car, even when I was eating. Being so dated, these classics almost play like puzzle games, and their simplicity adds to their addictiveness.
Defender and Defender II are the best, and once I stopped killing the humanoids and started saving them the game got even cooler. They remain pretty close to the originals, sans color, with the same sound you remember. At first I found it a little hard getting back into the swing of things. The options menu came in handy by allowing me to make the game super easy and, later, super hard. After a while I really got into the two-way scrolling action. It's a nice break from 3-D overload on the current generation of arcade and console games. Defender I and II always deliver 3 to 15 minutes of good old-fashioned gaming.
Joust was the game I was most looking forward to, but I found it nearly impossible and simply no fun to play. When I was young I spent hour upon hour playing it on the Atari, I loved it more than I loved Moon Patrol, and I loved Moon Patrol. The magic just wasn't there on the game.com version-I figured it was the directional pad instead of the good old joystick. But I went down to our local low rent arcade and gave the old stand up Joust a whirl, and I sucked even worse with the joystick! I guess some things age well (Defender, Dick Clark) and others don't (Joust, Paul Simon).
The other two games on the cart, SiniStar and Robotron, were new to me; I guess pizza parlors in my hometown weren't into getting all the greats. Robotron got hold of me; it's got great control, great graphics, and a great story, and I'm not kidding. The control utilizes directional movement with directional shooting (it's a predecessor of Apocalypse and Ape Escape) for high action shoot-em-ups. The graphics, while laughable today, were high tech at the time, and even now I admire the variety in Robotrons visually as well as in their movement and aggression. Ok, there's not much of a story, but what little is given is great. The robots are taking over and you and your superhuman powers must save the last human family. You've got to blow up the bad robots and save the good people; what could be better?
The only game I was really disappointed in was SiniStar. I found the gameplay tedious and tricky. I can imagine in the arcade SiniStar would be the best way to milk a quarter for the longest time. You collect crystals by shooting up asteroids, all the while being driven crazy by lots of annoying mesquito-like workers and the occasional warrior. Once you've collected enough crystals, and turned them into SiniBombs it's off to fight SiniStar, a big bad blob that tries to suck you in. I don't mind fighting SiniStar, but collecting crystals is more of a chore than doing dishes. The best thing about SiniStar is when the SiniStar talks "Beware, I LIVE," or "Run, Run, Run." Oh well, it's just one of the 5 games-the other 4 are better.
Williams' Arcade Classics is a must have for any game.com owner. The game.com breathes life into these old games, exposing these old greats to a whole new generation of Defenders and Jousters. And these are the games that show off the game.com's stuff. Game.com's strongest titles, in my opinion, are the originals (game.com only) and the old school classics. Portable systems do best with short games that don't need to be saved, simple graphics, and easy controls. That's what Williams' Arcade Classics give you-perfect portable fun.