Jeff Greeson - November 11, 2005
Arcade games played a significant role in the rising success of video games back in the late '80s and into the mid to late '90s. While home consoles have evolved and taken the video games industry's leadership role, success in the arcades has been relegated to the simulation genre, with massive controller and vehicle apparatuses that cost thousands of dollars and take up the space of most bedrooms. Luckily, Midway has recognized the recent trend in the resurgence of "Retro" and has capitalized on its vast library of classic arcade games shared between the Midway and Atari Games brands with the Midway Arcade Treasures series. While previous Treasures have appeared on Xbox, PS2, GameCube and PC, none prove to be more exciting than the capabilities the Sony PSP provides to these classics of yesteryear.
We caught up with the development team at Digital Eclipse and discussed the nostalgia of classic arcade gaming, the unique features of the Sony PlayStation Portable system, and shed some light on the original trilogy of Mortal Kombat titles included in Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play for the Sony PSP.
TRMK: Were you arcade gaming junkies yourselves? What games ate the most of your quarters?
Joe Bonar (Executive Producer): Absolutely, without a doubt, Defender. Next Robotron. I'm from the UK, so they ate my 10 pence pieces. I remember going on a school field trip and filling up the Defender machine just to hear that "Grrrrrrrroooooiiinnng" sound at the beginning of the game. My sweetheart at the time, Valerie, was not impressed. Hmmm, girls or videogames? I wonder what would have happened if I had made a different choice?
Kelly Tainton (Associate Producer): I hit the arcade a little bit later than Joe did. I can remember playing Mortal Kombat, and Race Drivin' all the time. Race Drivin' was fun and frustrating as I didn't know how to drive stick when I was 13.
Jeff Vavasour (Studio Head): Definitely. I kept a scoreboard on my wall at home, and would play games through closing time, while they vacuumed up around me. Early on, it was Asteroids and driving games. I still have quite a fondness for driving games. The addiction kept up all through university with lunch-time Gauntlet tournaments and goes at Marble Madness. I'd say the biggest quarter eaters were Star Wars, Joust, and Robotron.
TRMK: Digital Eclipse seem to be the "go to guys" for the revival of classic arcade games. How are you able to convert such a wide array of arcade games that ran on such varying hardware designs?
JB: We have some very smart people on-board who love to emulate, meta-emulate and just all-round code the heck out of these games. The guys also love the games they work on, so they expend as much effort as possible making them as perfect as they can.
KT: I would have to agree with Joe 100%. It all comes down to the guys working on the games. They live and breath this stuff, and it's important to make them as close to the original experience as possible.
JV: The people who created these emulators are all old school programmers, with a thirst to do the kind of to-the-metal programming that was prevalent in the time these games were made. We also love these games and we're driven to do the legacy of these games justice. Getting these games pixel perfect is a challenge and a matter of pride. Over the years, we've built up a large library and tool set of pieces, not to mention a lot of experience, that makes us quite efficient at achieving this goal.
TRMK: Arcade games, by nature, are designed to deliver short bursts of highly entertaining and addictive gameplay. Do you believe that handhelds might be the ideal platform for a renaissance of classic arcade games?
JB: Sure. The handheld thing for me means that you pick it up, have a blast, then put it down again. I always think of when I took the bus to work; of course I could never take a PS2 with me but with a PSP, I can play for 20 minutes then jump off at my stop. Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game, but you'd have to stay on the bus long after your stop in order to beat it. Hmm, that said, looping the score on Joust would probably take a while too, but that depends on what your goal is, I guess.