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Once Upon a Time
In its hey day, Data East was known for their arcade titles which made some impressive ports to home consoles including the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. While the company went bankrupt several years ago, some of their classics live on the Nintendo Wii with the release of Data East Arcade classics.
The set includes several memorable games as well as a few you might be playing for the first time. There are also built in goals to achieve in order to unlock bonus content, including, publicity stills, music tracks, arcade cabinet decor. While its not the best classic compilation, its nice to see Majesco Entertainment continue to bring some nostalgic hits to both old-school gamers as well as an entirely new audience.
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The gameplay varies game by game, but for the most part, the classics all feel like they did in the arcade in terms of gameplay. Burgertime is still infuriatingly difficult (despite the fact it appears to be easy), Bad Dudes still is a furious button-masher and Heavy Barrel still feels too much like a clone of Ikari Warriors or Commando.
Other classics in the compilation include: Lock 'n' Chase, Side Pocket, Two Crude, Burnin' Rubber and Caveman Ninja.
Another nice aspect of gameplay is you can jack up the credits for some of the more difficult games. If only you could do that back in the day, you probably could buy this game with the quarters you would have saved.
Data East Arcade Classics does not take any advantage of the Wii motion controls whatsoever. The classic remote can be used in place of the Wii remote which is utilized just as it would for an NES title downloaded from the Virtual Console. While the Wii remote is serviceable the classic controller has a more natural feeling to it when you're playing a game released in 80s.
The controls themselves are responsive and adequate. Frankly, it would be sad if Majesco would have been unable to ensure quality controls when only two buttons are predominately used.
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It never ceases to amaze me how other reviews will rate these types of compilations poorly and make unrealistic and unfair comparisons to contemporary video games. Sure, we've come a long way, but part of the nostalgia of these classics are how the look and sound.
Do the games look and sound hideous by today's standards, sure, but for their time, the majority of these games looked and sounded great. The transition from the arcade to the Wii is relatively clean and the games all look and sound how I remember them. Surely, due to the inferiority of NES ports, these games have never looked better outside the arcade.
The only reason the graphics were rated only 'good' was the menus seem lazy and somewhat hastily put together. Other classic companies, including Atari and Sega, dress up their compilation games much more.
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While its unfair to expect every Data East title to be represented. There are some notable titles missing from this collection. Most notably, at least for me was the absence of Captain America and the Avengers. I'm guessing its exclusion had to do with copyright and licensing issues with Marvel, but regardless I would have loved to have seen that arcade classic here.
Other notable Data East titles I was surprised not to find were Karnov and the games based on the Robocop franchise (there may be similar issues in terms of copyright complications.)
While the unlockables of galleries and music tracks, some of these missing titles could have been included as bonus games if certain goals were met in the other 15 games. Not only would there be more classics to play, but even more enhanced replay value.
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Data East Arcade Classics delivers 15 mostly memorable games, many of which haven't been included in such compilations before. Its a good opportunity to enjoy old school gaming at a reasonable price. Others may scoff at the games for their primitive graphics, sound and gameplay, but for anyone who enjoys nostalgic gaming, this title is perfect for you and is definitely worth a look.
While there are some key Data East titles missing, the game still features a nice variety of classics, plus we can always hold out hope for a more expanded offering of arcade games.