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Data East Arcade Classics - WII - Review

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Posted by: Brian Rowe

Gamezone Review Rating 6.0 Above Average

As an adult, there’s a comforting nostalgia about rummaging through an old box of toys and dredging up forgotten memories. Video game compilations often serve the same purpose, but digging through Data East Arcade Classics conjures up childhood enthusiasm with an equal dose of utter confusion. Data East was an undeniable fixture of the arcade scene, though the company never reached the heights of Capcom nor SNK. The question is - how many of these “classics” are fondly remembered?

* Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja * Burger Time * Burnin’ Rubber * Caveman Ninja * Crude Buster * Express Raider * Heavy Barrel * Lock ‘n’ Chase * Magical Drop III * Peter Pepper’s Ice Cream Factory * Secret Agent, Side Pocket * Street Hoop * Super Real Darwin * Wizard Fire

I was instantly lured by Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja, but not for the butt-kicking that the Dudes’ oiled biceps and fingerless gloves surely promised. It was the beat-‘em-up that became my obsession for years to come, although I’m still not sure why. Surely there were better means of pummeling waves of palette-swapped thugs, and bosses that required more skill than quarters to beat. Altered Beast and Double Dragon come to mind.

Second-rate copycatting is the common theme of Data East Arcade Classics. Street Hoop is an obvious derivative of the phenomenal NBA Jam, albeit with a dose of ‘90s fluorescence and White Men Can’t Jump attitude. Lock ‘n’ Chase is more than a little similar to Pac-Man, and Magical Drop III is a straight clone of Bust-a-Move with saucy anime girls instead of our beloved dinos. I’m starting to think that the only reason I remember most of these games is because my real favorites were taken and I didn’t have the patience for the quarter-line.

Burger Time is an obvious star of this compilation. The game may not have the legendary status of Donkey Kong or Centipede, but the tribulations of a chef battling condiments and building hamburgers manages to stand up to the degradation of time. That is the true test of any compilation. Likewise, Heavy Barrel is still an intense run-‘n’-gunner, even if it is a knockoff of Ikari Warriors, and Caveman Ninja (a.k.a. Joe & Mac) is still a challenging and charismatic platformer.

There are diamonds in the rough, but you’ll have to slog through a lot of mud to find them. Crude Buster is one of the more recognizable names, but more out of infamy. So many rookie collectors have bought Crude Buster thinking it was Combatribes that the mistake has become a running joke. I can’t even begin to imagine how the nearly uncontrollable Express Raider made the cut. Out of irony perhaps?

Some of the compilations out there, especially those of Namco and Midway, are the textbooks of video game history. Data East’s Arcade Classics is more like the cliff notes, like a compilation for the sake of a compilation. To really make this disc shine, it should have included the likes of Karnov, Bloody Wolf, Cobra Command, Desert Assault, and Night Slasher. Then again, I suppose that would leave nothing for a second volume.

I must give Majesco Entertainment credit for going above and beyond the call of duty in assembling this compilation (though not for game-selection). Majesco packed in numerous galleries, including marquees and advertisements for the original machines. Far more exciting is the addition of five goals per game. Some are easy, like completing a game, and others will strain your perseverance to its breaking point, like getting a shut-out in Street Hoop. Get all five goals and you unlock a special mode that raises the difficulty even higher. On top of that, any game can be saved and loaded.

The goals and save files could be enough to tempt some pirates away from downloading ROMs, but probably not. The selection of games simply isn’t strong enough. The kids aren’t likely to be impressed by anything shown here, and adults are left pondering the whereabouts of the real classics. At least it has Bad Dudes.

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