Owning an arcade game is great when it comes to collectors, but there’s also the downside to consider, such as moving it to and from your home; making sure it’s properly maintained when it comes to parts (like the hard-to-find CRT monitor); and, of course, the cost of getting an authentic machine in the first place, which could run into the thousands.
Earlier this year, Tastemakers introduced a new product to cater to those that wanted an arcade experience within the home, but with no muss or fuss -- the Arcade1up line. Featuring several games packed into each unit, this recreates the arcade experience for a modest budget. I managed to give the new Rampage game a try to see if it lived up to the hype -- and it does, though there are some setbacks for the developer to look over.
This particular unit comes with four games -- Rampage, Gauntlet, Joust and Defender. That’s a pretty good mix of Williams’ licensed titles, with popular properties for each kind of player. And they’re all conveniently set up in proper housing that replicates the build of an arcade game, right down to the joysticks and buttons, which feel just like the real thing.
And on top of that, the Arcade1up line is fairly easy to assemble, with all the parts easily earmarked and only a screwdriver and a good amount of time required to put them together. The parts are top-notch as well, including the monitor, which is surprisingly stable for such a low-priced gaming unit.
That said, you should be forewarned that the game isn’t the tallest out there. These machines stand at about four feet tall or so, not the usual arcade norm. That said, your best bet to playing these is to sit on a small chair or stool. Either that or, for $50 more, buy a riser that brings the unit up about a foot, making it perfect for standing height. It’s your call, but I’d definitely take the riser route.
Now, let’s get to what counts -- the games!
First, Rampage, the main star of this show (it’s featured on the cabinet art), is pretty much arcade perfect. The game lets you choose between three different monsters, trashing each city in your wake. The controls are very responsive, and the antics are a lot of fun to watch with three players. The only downside is that, with the small cabinet size, all of you will likely be scrunched up as you surround it.
Then there’s Joust. This is a fairly faithful recreation of the arcade game, right down to its intro screen and challenging stages. The gameplay is tight here as well, and you can have two players going at it at once. However, high scores aren’t saved at all, meaning they go away whenever you turn the game off. I was hoping Arcade1up would have invested in a good memory chip. Perhaps in future models.
Next up is Gauntlet. This is a top-down dungeon crawler from the 80’s, and it only supports two players, instead of the three that were initially promised. It’s decent, but there are some noticeable issues. The first is that later stages have scrolling issues, making it difficult to navigate through certain hallways. That and the game’s stereo sound isn’t well replicated here, since the Rampage unit only has a mono speaker. As a result, some of the effects don’t get through.
Finally, there’s Defender -- and it’s probably the worst of the bunch. That’s not because of the emulation, which is done pretty well. It’s because of the control scheme. It’s spread awkwardly across the entire cabinet, and there’s no option to change it around for convenience. As a result, you have to maintain ship control and mash the thrust button to get around with the same hand. That’s more difficult than you might think, considering how the original arcade controls worked.
Game issues aside, the machine operates fairly easy with its on-off switch, and is easy to set up and lug around, compared to, say, a real arcade game.
In the end, the Arcade1up experience I went through thus far isn’t bad. It’s not quite excellent either, though. While Rampage and Joust are well represented, and the cabinet quality and build is exactly like you’d find in a coin-op, the issues with the other games and the lack of control options will likely be hard for some to overlook. The $300 price point (with $50 tacked on with that riser) may make it easier to swallow that pill, especially if you’ve got kids or friends that really like Rampage, but I do hope that the folks at Tastemakers fix these problems for the future.
The Arcade1up game is a decent purchase if you’ve been looking to complete your game room with something modestly sized, and this is probably the best one of the bunch, save for the Street Fighter unit if you’ve got buddies that are more competitive than usual. But fingers crossed that as the company’s line continues, we see more effort put into the games in terms of options and emulation improvements.
And if there’s an update coming, at least let me move the fire button closer to my joystick in Defender, please?
(You can purchase the game at Walmart here.)2comments
WWG’s Score: 3.5 out of 5
(Disclaimer: A review unit was provided by the publisher.)