Summertime means beaches and boardwalks, complete with arcades. Fortunately for those low on coinage, the iPad has an impressive selection of quarter munchers, ranging from old-school classics featuring pellet hungry yellow blobs, to newer gems that may have you shouting “BOOMSHAKALAKA” — each with a touchscreen twist. Here are a few of our favorites.
WWE WrestleFest ($3.99)
Step into the squared circle and fight as your favorite wrestlers in a remake of the arcade classic, WWF WrestleFest. Now named “WWE WrestleFest” due to trademark issues, THQ has revived the arcade-button masher, swapping pixels for cell-shaded graphics and updating the near 20-year old roster, giving ring rats a choice of both today’s superstars and legends.
The list of wrestlers in WWE WrestleFest include John Cena, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jake the Snake Roberts, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. THQ has released a few in-app packs for a buck a pop that include other wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Sgt. Slaughter, Yokozuna, Mr. Perfect, and Roddy Piper.
The game comes with a variety of modes including exhibition, Road to WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, Saturday Night’s Main Event Tournament, tag team, and a gauntlet style match. Road to WrestleMania is the WWE WrestleFest’s career mode where you take a wrestler along with a tag team partner, and progress through the WWE ranks, all the way to the title.
The controls for the game are simple, with only two buttons and a joystick. As with any touchscreen-based button masher, control can be awkward and is not as responsive as it should be. WrestleFest is forgiving and easy enough that it doesn’t cripple gameplay, but it can be frustrating.
For most single matches, the gameplay stays the same: kick and punch to wear your opponent down, move up to grapples, then perform a unique finishing move, which too often doesn’t keep your opponent down for the three count at first strike.
Wrestlers are all basically the same, sans the moveset, which leads to some questionable action. When was the last time you saw the diminutive Rey Mysterio bodyslam an opponent the size of the Undertaker?
Ultimately, WrestleFest gets by more on nostalgia than gameplay. It supports multiplayer over the Game Center, which is nice, and wrestling fanboys will thoroughly enjoy this game. Casual fans will probably be bored after a few playthroughs, however.
Pac-Man Championship Edition ($4.99, iPhone version)
Shame of shames, “Pac-Man Championship Edition” is not optimized for the big screen! The arcade classic that spawned Pacmania is available for the iPad, but only playable as a bit larger than iPhone size with a thick black border, or scaled up to the 9.7-inch display, though highly pixilated.
Either way, Pac-Man Championship Edition plays extremely smoothly. The app takes the classic Pac-Man game of munching down on pellets and fruit while simultaneously dodging ghosts and navigating a maze, and it adds missions, a championship and challenge mode.
Admittedly, Pac-Man is very simple and repetitive, so Namco added new game modes and missions to up replayibility. There are a total of 120 stages, each with a different objective, such as obtaining 120,000 points or consuming three ghosts before time runs out.
There are six different types of controls: D-Pad, directional buttons, thumb swipes, two types of pointer-finger swipes, and an analog pad control. The D-pad, directional buttons, and analog pad controls are self-explanatory, using the buttons to help navigate Pac-Man on the stage. The various swipe controls give the user more of a real-time feel of the game, allowing Pac-Man to move through the stage with a simple swipe up, down, left, or right. The swipes are extremely effective and responsive.
The game also includes an online tournament mode that is enabled by connecting through Facebook. Compete with friends.
It’s hard to recommend a non-optimized app, but Pac-Man Championship Edition is an incredibly fun and addictive time waster. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s also near impossible to put down.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene ($4.99)
The slow and plodding space shooter Space Invaders gets an update with “Space Invader: Infinity Gene”. On second thought, given its title and theme, the formerly-fixed shooter Space Invaders evolves with Infinity Gene, and becomes what could be one of the greatest iOS games of all time.
The game begins as the classic Space Invaders, with only X-axis movement and a single pea shooter, while a wave of pixilated alien fiends slowly descends downward. Each subsequent level is an overhead shooter (with an occasional landscape side view option), with more modern and high-powered weaponry at the player’s disposal. The game progresses, enemies evolve, and players unlock bonus content, including new weapons, bonus stages, and other in-game content. There are three difficulty levels, ranging from easy to bullet-hell hard.
The controls are extremely smooth and responsive to the swipes of the finger. The preciseness and responsiveness is crucial when it comes to avoiding enemy attacks as well as obstacles. You never have to worry as there is never a hiccup when maneuvering the ship. The ship shoots automatically, so players can concentrate on collecting power-ups and swerving past enemy attacks.
Players will be able to listen to their own tracks while playing Space Invaders: Infinity Gene. However, the game’s midi-inspired techno soundtrack is superb, as are the vector-based graphics. For a simple game of lines and curves, Space Invaders looks stunningly cool.
Yes, Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is a far cry from the original, but that’s probably a good thing. Space Invaders is boring, Infinity Gene is one of the best iOS games available. With its superb graphics, gameplay, soundtrack, and playability, it’s no surprise that Space Invaders: Infinity Gene has a place in the App Store Hall of Fame.
Midway Arcade ($.99)
You can’t walk 10 feet into an old arcade without bumping into a Midway classic. But since arcades are now few and far between, Midway has ported its best into one app, appropriately titled “Midway Arcade”.
Fans can get a rush of nostalgia by selecting six Midway games, including Spy Hunter, Rampage, Joust, Root Beer Tapper, Defender, Arch Rivals, and four mini-games including Air Hockey, Arcade Basketball, Pool, and Roll Ball (Skee-Ball). Other games are available in the form or two in-app purchases, each for $0.99. They include NARC, Total Carnage, All Points Bulletin, Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, and Wizard of War.
The app UI is designed with an arcade motif, and each game has its own unique cabinet. To complete the illusion, players must insert credits before playing any game. The controls vary from each game, but users will have the option to choose from a fixed joystick, meaning the directional knob is in one place, a free joystick, meaning the spot you touch on the screen is the center of the joystick, or an arcade stick, where you can use the physical iCade controller (by far the best choice).
For many of these games, the touchscreen controls are extremely frustrating and hamper gameplay. All Points Bulletin featured a steering wheel controller in the arcade, which is not easily duplicated with the iPad, even with optional tilt controls. Games like Rampage, Root Beer Tapper, and Arch Rivals control just good enough to pass muster, while other games such as Spy Hunter, Joust, and Defender are awful and require multiple credits for steady play. Good thing Midway Arcade doesn’t require real quarters.
Like WrestleFest, Midway Arcade is a nostalgia trip at best. The lack of multiplayer is jarring, especially for games like Rampage and Arch Rivals (a precursor to NBA Jam), and hampers what could have been an excellent collection of titles.
Part II Coming Soon
We’ll be taking a look at more arcade classics for the iPad soon, including the one that added “BOOMSHAKALAKA” to the collective vocabulary.