Microsoft Arcade. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Bob Eller
I've always been a sucker for a good arcade game. Why think when you can blast? Maybe it's because some of my first digital game experiences were bashing centipedes and blasting tanks on my old Atari 2600. When I heard that Microsoft had purchased the rights to many of these old Atari games, I couldn't wait to see the results. I wasn't disappointed.
Microsoft Arcade brings to Windows five classic Atari games. Included are Missile Command, where you must save civilization from an array of bombers, missiles, satellites, and smart bombs; Tempest, where you defend yourself from enemy aliens on a geometric playing field; Asteroids, where you blast your way through a field of space debris and vaporize the alien saucers; Centipede, where you must exterminate the invading centipedes, jumping spiders, mushroom-dropping fleas, and poisonous scorpions from the mushroom patch; and Battlezone, where you engage in wire-frame tank-to-tank combat.
Microsoft appears to have gone to great lengths to preserve the original look and feel of the coin-op originals. Most noticeable are the early 1980s-style graphics found in Asteroids and Battlezone. There's a lot of historical reference material built into these five games. Microsoft includes, as part of each game's help file, a brief history of how the game was created and of the programmers and designers behind each project. The help files also serve as the manual for Microsoft Arcade and include information on playing each game, as well as scoring hints and winning play strategies.
You can choose whether each game is played in a window or at full-screen size. Microsoft also added the ability to customize nearly every feature of each game, including the number of lives available and the points required for earning bonuses.
In these days of virtual this and multimedia that, it's amazing how well the games included with Microsoft Arcade hold up. And there's a big improvement over the original arcade machines--you can play as long as you want without a pocket full of quarters!