Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: September 13, 2005
Buy 'TECMO CLASSIC ARCADE': Xbox
Perplexed, you stare up towards the giant machine. A shock of awe ripples through your body as you examine the sheer beauty of the machine in its entirety: the buttons, large screen, and flashing lights contain an almost mystical quality. All around, your senses are bombarded with constant sounds, flashing lights, and mysterious music.
Sound familiar? For those in the gaming world, the atmosphere and experience of playing in an arcade is priceless. For many, the days of the classic '80s arcade has long since come and gone, instead being replaced by new generations of household console systems and a barrage of new games each year. While the majority of people may disagree on just how evil these console systems are, one thing is clear: the rich satisfaction produced from classic arcades will always be much sought after. Sensing this want, Tecmo has produced a compilation of 11 of their classic arcade games in one title, Tecmo Classic Arcade for the Xbox. With so much resting on the line, will this assortment of simple arcade games be enough to re-enact the astonishment and pure joy of the classic arcade, or will it fall short?
The games come in quite a variety, ranging from side-scrollers to sports games, which attempts to create a sense of replayability. Spearheading the list of favorites is Tecmo Bowl, a classic football game which many remember quite fondly. Be aware, however, that some of these titles just don't seem to manage the jump onto the Xbox. While Tecmo Bowl was certainly impressive due to the intricate design of the arcade console, playing it on the Xbox just somehow isn't the same. In addition to Tecmo Bowl, the list also includes Rygar, StarForce and Bombjack, just to name a few.
Without a doubt, the main goal of Tecmo Classic Arcade is to emulate the feeling of actually playing these games in a real arcade. It could be said that if Tecmo has managed to create a truly authentic experience, then they have managed to create a great game. In reality, however, the main goal seems to be only partially completed. While this may not actually capture the true feeling of playing these titles in the arcade, it does definitely try. For example, the whole interface and game menus are extremely realistic and are exactly what would have appeared in the arcade version.
All of the animations, sounds, etc., of each game are also taken directly from the original versions. It is definitely quite eerie to hear, in the comfort of your own home, the sound effects which helped certain games achieve glory nearly 20 years ago. In addition to these features designed to instill a sense of "arcade excitement," Tecmo Classic Arcade also includes a Gallery Mode, where gamers can view everything from retro posters to the original manuals for each game. While the effort is clearly there, Tecmo simply cannot make up for the fact that these classic games are just not the same on a console such as the Xbox.
Another rather appealing feature of Tecmo Classic Arcade is its extremely simplistic nature. While many games lose potential players to complex ideas or difficult controls, Tecmo Classic Arcade instead attempts to bypass this problem, bringing the classic arcade hits back to life in the most simple manner possible. For one thing, the load times are extremely fast – a surprise which definitely hints at the straightforwardness and simplicity of the Tecmo format.
The entire button scheme is so simple that even an infant could play, mainly because of the simple controls these games had when they were showcased in the arcade. For the most part, these games are all based around the ability to control your character with a joystick and perform game-specific actions with the help of a button. With merely a joystick and one button to press, all 11 games are quite easy to learn and play, which may be a selling point for more casual gamers.
Perhaps one of the best features of Tecmo Classic Arcade, however, is the amount of control that is available to the player, options that an '80s arcade gamer could have only dreamed of. The most obvious example is probably credits – no longer must you repeatedly dig into your pockets searching for those last few coins. While this does tend to hurt the arcade atmosphere, it's always fun to stare at the screen of a game you have invested countless coins in over the years, and suddenly acquire hundreds of free credits. In addition, the options available to the player are quite nice. You can change the difficulty level on most games, as well as the number of available lives during gameplay. This is a level of personalization which never existed in those thrilling arcades, and it's all now entirely within your grasp.
While Tecmo Classic Arcade boasts such things as authentic formats, a simple structure, and greater sense of control, this game is definitely not without its problems. Tecmo certainly worked hard to represent their classic hits well on the Xbox, but there were certain destructive factors which the team just could not have changed. For one, the traditional Xbox controller is in no way close to the classic arcade controls, which means that if you are planning on using your basic Xbox controller, you're going to definitely notice a difference between how the two handle. While banging that one button on the machine over and over used to be how it was done, you will soon find that pressing a small Xbox button repeatedly is no easy feat.
That said, if you can get over this small problem, or maybe even find an arcade type controller, this point may not apply to you. That aside, we are left with the realization that while the game may be fun for a little while, Tecmo Classic Arcade simply has too few games to offer much replayability, and it tends to become old rather quick. For those looking to check out some of their favorite old school games, Tecmo Classic Arcade may be worth a look. For most of us, however, renting this game will be as close as we ever come to calling it our own.