Old school is the new cool and many companies have been cashing in on their classics. The Nintendo Wii has a clear advantage with NES, MSX, Super Nintendo, Genesis, Turbografx 16 and Nintendo 64 coming on the Virtual Console. Not to be out done Sony started selling PS1 classics for the Playstation 3. The PS1 has a huge library and titles like Resident Evil and Arc of the Lad will attract gamers who do want to buy used PS1 discs. Since the Xbox platform is the new kid on the block Microsoft can’t draw on a large back catalog of games. Instead they’ve turned to arcade classics. As of now they have the arcade market cornered and there seems like a limitless supply of arcade games they could sell over the Xbox Marketplace. Here are ten arcade classics that Microsoft needs to bring to the Xbox 360.
Long before Homer became the star of The Simpsons, Konami released a four player arcade game of TV’s longest running animated family. In the game players could be Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa depending on what coin slot they put their money in. The game was pretty much a standard beat ‘em up game, but the animation is what made The Simpsons arcade game rise above the pack. Besides being faithful to the franchise The Simpsons had “secret” option where you could do team attacks with another player. Homer can put Lisa on his back for tandem punch and whip attack, perfect for punching the giant bear boss. Fifteen years after the game’s release, it is hard to find a working cabinet to play the game on and since The Simpsons has never been released for a home console Konami’s Simpsons game is becoming a rare experience to play.
Midway’s Rampage was at the right place at the right time. When Ramage was released giant monster movies were in and Rampage let you do what giant monsters do best smash stuff. The game’s premise is simple, smash all of the buildings and avoid the tiny tanks from shooting you. While smashing stuff alone is fun, the game is changed when you have a second or a third player. Now Rampage becomes a pseudo fighting game since you can pound your friend playing Lizzie into the ground. Smashing buildings has never been so much fun.
Treasure’s Ikaruga is one of the best shoot ‘em up games in a very, very long time. On the surface it looks like a standard vertical scrolling outer space shooter game, but the polarity system completely the way the game is played. You can switch between being black or white with the push of a button. If you’re ship is black you give double damage to all white ships and absorb black bullets. But you’re far from invincible, a single stray white pellet means instant death. Ikaruga’s levels are cleverly designed with alternating waves of black and white polarity to keep players on their toes. Since Ikaruga is known for its difficulty a neat Xbox Live feature would be the ability to save and share replays with friends. That way you can gloat if you’re great and learn if you’re still in Ikaruga flight school.
Bust-A-Move (Puzzle Bobble)
SNK’s addictive bubble popping puzzle game, Bust-A-Move, is a perfect fit for Xbox Live. In Bust-A-Move (aka Puzzle Bobble) you aim an arrow to fire a colored bubble into a cloud of bubbles at the top of the screen. Match colored bubbles to make them disappear and clear a level. Bust-A-Move’s exponential score system makes the game challenging and separates good players from great ones. While Microsoft could easily throw Bust-A-Move online they could add in features from Puzzle Bobble Online, like team battles and six player combat.
Buying out Rare was one of the smartest moves that Microsoft made when they started the Xbox platform. The purchase didn’t payout initially, but games like Perfect Dark Zero and Viva Piñata are proving that Rare was worth the cash. Before Microsoft owned Rare, they teamed up with Nintendo to make Killer Instinct. The futuristic 2D fighting game had a unique cast of characters. There was Cinder a being of living flame, Jago the Tibetan monk and Black Orchid who has a finishing move where she flashes her opponent. Killer Instinct’s true triumph was its branching combo system where you can do long strings of attacks and the killer ultra combo where can do over forty hits. Now if Microsoft can bring Killer Instinct to Xbox Live and add in online play they will have a sure hit.
While few shoot ‘em ups are released in North America, the genre is still alive in Japan. Cave is one of the masters of the sh’mup genre and ESP Ra De is the pinnacle of their work. In the game you select one of three ESPers (not Final Fantasy summon monsters, ESP stands for Extra Sensory Perception) who can manipulate their psychic power into bullets. Each of the three characters has a regular shooting attack, bombs and a psychic shield that changes bullets to bonus tokens. Another bonus is ESP Ra De has a fan following in Japan, which might help cement the Xbox 360 in that region.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Capcom’s crossover fighting game isn’t without its fair share of flaws. Infinite combos and well documented glitches will make online play problematic, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s three on three matches are awesome. Many fan favorites like Mega Man, Wolverine, Ryu, Spider Man, Strider and Captain America round off the 56 character list. It’s the only game where you can team up Cable and Guile or Amigo the giant cactus and Doctor Doom. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 also has its fair share of innovation where you rely on partner attacks to help you out and rotating between three characters. The biggest problem with the release is the game is that Capcom lost the license to make Marvel products. It would take a lot of cash to re-release Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and if anyone has that kind of bankroll it’s Microsoft.
Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara
After the success of Final Fight, Capcom took the same formula and tweaked it for game after game. Games like Captain Commando and Magic Sword were entertaining, but they didn’t stand out. Capcom applied the beat ‘em up formula to the Dungeons and Dragons license and mixed in RPG elements. Your character levels up, you can buy new armor and you choose a path to follow. The fighting system isn’t half bad either. You can juggle enemies with rising attacks and use the megacrush to hit all surrounding enemies. Aside from melee attacks each class has different skills like magic if you are an elf or throwing urns of oil if you’re a fighter. A port of the game came out for the Saturn in Japan only and the sole home release was missing the best part, simultaneous play for four players.
House of the Dead
Sega’s zombie blasting House of the Dead series is classic. The campy plot, emotionless voice acting and blocky zombie graphics never stopped House of the Dead from being fun. The best part of the game was the larger than life boss fights where you had to shoot a weak point to move forward. The only problem with releasing this is that there isn’t a light gun available for the Xbox 360. Gamepad controls could be work, but another option would be to tweak House of the Dead to use the Xbox Vision camera so players can punch zombies.
As an arcade legend, it is surprising that Space Invaders isn’t already on Xbox Live. Microsoft could port over the original arcade release or package it with a 3D version. It doesn’t really matter as long as Space Invaders has the same alien shooting gameplay as the original. The main Xbox Live enhancement I would like to see in Space Invaders is leaderboards so gamers have a place to show off their skills.
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