Reviewed by Jimmy | 01.30.06
INTRODUCTION:It's not a surprise that Midway would jump onto Xbox Live Arcade considered the amount of classic games they have re-released in the last two years. The selection for the XLA might be questionable giving the number of Midway classics, but I'm sure there is more to come.
In this review we cover the four titles that launched with the new 360, Joust, Gauntlet, Robotron 2084, and Smash TV.
If you tally that up you have one wierd mix of wizards and warriors, bird riding knights, killer tank men and strange big eyed robots. Shifting through this madness isn't as hard is it sounds, and I have some suggestions on the hits and misses.
Joust is a bizarre game that lets you assume the role as a warrior riding a flying bird that most resembles an ostrich. In Joust you have to combat other bird riding jousters and defeat them by bouncing off their bodies. Don't ask?! Once you cork your opponent on the head they turn into a durable egg which bounces until settled. All you have to do is grab the egg, and the enemy is destroyed. Being quick to snatch the egg is the key because if you wait to long the egg will hatch into another warrior, and you will have to repeat the bird bouncing. Strange enough that it's not the bird that hatches out of egg. hmmm. That's pretty much the game, it's all fitted on one screen and although it sounds easy enough, Joust is challenging. When the level is filled with these fast moving crazy birds it gets very frantic and turns into a game of luck more then skill. Like every classic game once a board is cleared more enemies are introduced and the pace thickens.
LOWDOWN:Joust is one of the weirdest concepts out of Midway pack of arcade games. Even though Joust is weird it still has a quirky loveable quality to it. Don't let the simplistic levels and objective fool you, Joust is a challenge. Joust will mainly appeal to the nostalgic coin-op freaks who need to get their Joust boost on, but other will most likely be satisfied running the demo a few times.
Final Score: 6 / 10
The classic Gauntlet also makes its way on to the Xbox Live Arcade pallet a few weeks before the release of newly remade Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. Although the new Gauntlet game was an adequate hack n' slash, I found myself itching to revisit the original. Gauntlet is fun, challenging, and a timeless classic. If you don't know this legendary arcade game, take a few minutes and download the demo. For me the game is filled full of memories when I was a youngling, I don't know how many quarters I pumped into the Gauntlet machine eons ago.
For the game it basically plays the same as the arcade with some bonus graphical glitches like the ones you see on homebrewed emulators. Gauntlet is best enjoyed with friends, or on Xbox Live. You can play as the four adventures and running through the game. You'd think a game like this would take an hour at the most to complete, but no... Gauntlet clocks in around 3hrs!! Yip, 3hrs of button mashing.. So if you are want that achievement get ready to snuggle up to Gauntlet for a while. There are two Co-Op achievements worth a total of 55 gamer points, so if you plan on getting the full 200 points you'll have to log online. You'll be glad to hear that when I searched for players there was a few which is better then the other Midway classics.
LOWDOWN:Gauntlet is a blast with friends Xbox Live, just convinces at least one friend to get this and you'll have a good laugh. Besides playing online the Gauntlet experience is pretty shallow, but enjoyable for people who played the original in the arcades. Gauntlet definitely deserves a peek for all those intrigued.
Final Score: 7 / 10
Robotron 2084 which made its debut in 1982 is also a member of Midways Xbox Live Arcade. This is the first game to have used a two joystick controller, one for moving and one for shooting. Robotron 2084 has inspired many top down shooters over the years and even the 1990 hit Smash TV. Although, Robotron is a classic, an innovator, and a damn strange game, but it really won't tear you away from Geotromety Wars . I wasn't too impressed with Robotron and now I remember why I didn't get into this one back in the arcade.
In Robotron you will have to go against wave after wave of persistent robots that shoot plus and minuses at your big eyed character. The main goal is to defeat all the evil robots, while boosting your score by saving the humanoids that have been caught between the firefight. You really have to zone into the game because you can killed the humans with one shot and all the characters blend together into a big messy sea of red. I blame it on those Grunts that march towards you player, they are pretty damn freaky. I found Robotron to be as tough as the new games, if not tougher, just because of its limitations and amount of enemies they pour at you.
LOWDOWN:Robotron has to be the weakest link in the line up of Midway games for Xbox Live Arcade. Simply because of Midways Smash TV which is a superior game that is more fun. Add in other stellar additions like Mutant Storm and Geotromety Wars and its hard to see any redeeming factors in Robotron 2084. It's interesting to play this game a few times, but you would have to be an old schooler to get into Robotron for any extended period of time.
Final Score: 4 / 10
I already mentioned Smash TV being superior to Midways fellow top down shooter Robotron. It's probably not a surprise, and I know I didn't hurt the developer's feelings because Eugene Jarvis developed both titles. Smash TV from 1990 is an updated and more violent build on the Robotron game principals. Smash TV plot is taken right from Arnold Schwarzeneggers 1997 classic "The Running Man" and you play a competitor on a TV show where you have to fight for life. Smash TV is a popular cult favorite for gamers and will reach even more people by being showcased on Xbox Live.
Smash TV is an older game, but it is still one violent splatter fest. Dismembered bodies are always flying apart and your trigger finger never rests. Although it's over the top violently bloody the 2D graphics and humorous approach take the edge of the gore. You have the sleazy announcer with his one liners "Big Money! Big Prizes!" surrounded by bikini clad 2D women, and some seriously strange opponents which are equally bizarrely funny. To top it off you are battling for cash and cheesy prizes like TV sets, and cars. It obvious Mr. Jarvis has a sadistic sense of humor.
Smash TV is a one of a kind and feels more original then most titles today. The branching map and power ups really keep the variety and experience fun. You can play multiplayer which is a fun run with friends. The boss battles are priceless and some of these freaks are pretty interesting. For instance the first boss is "Mutoid Man", a bald tank man-machine that you have to blow into pieces. It's pretty crazy and almost impossible without continuing several times. The ending has a funny twist and you'll chuckle when you see the fourth and final boss.
LOWDOWN:Smash TV is a cult classic and worth the low price. This is a fun game to play and even better with friends. Strangely this twisted shooter never really gets boring and is good for several rounds. To quote the MC "I'd Buy That For A Dollar"
Final Score: 8.5 / 10