Arcade Party Pak


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

The latter half of 1999 saw a barrage of “compilations”, some good and some bad, but none as inconspicuous as Arcade Party Pak, the first Playstation compilation with nary a hint in its title at what’s being compiled. In case you weren’t one of the people waiting anxiously for this one to arrive, the titles are Smash TV, Rampage, Super Sprint, Klax, Toobin’, and 720. If you know these games (and I expect you to), then you can understand better why they named this disk what they did. It’s PARTY TIME, baby! Six games designed for multi-player mayhem, though Klax doesn’t exactly seem to fit here, and only Rampage and Super Sprint allow for more than two players. Still, it’s true to its name.

The interface is clean and simple, like most compilations. From the main menu you can choose which game you’d like to play or watch a few brief interview movies that give you a little background into the history behind each. The interviews on this disk were better (more interesting) than others to date. No discussions about “code”. No diatribe about how “the corporation” held the creative process in check. And no “programmers on drugs” stories – at least none that made the final cut here. Within each title you have a few options such as skill level, number of lives, and whether you want the high scores automatically saved to memory card. Click a button and after a thankfully brief load time, you’re in the game.

The six games vary in faithfulness to the arcade versions. I believe these are all based on the original code (not re-created for Playstation use), but it’s pretty obvious that some small changes were made. The most noticeable is in the frame rate of Rampage. The monsters aren’t as smooth as they should be, and there’s a certain dark quality about this game which you’ll also notice in Toobin’ and 720. It’s very likely that the color palette was stripped down a bit to gain some processing speed. It doesn’t really affect the gameplay, fortunately, but you’ll notice it right away if you’ve ever played these games seriously in an arcade.

Personally, the big seller in this game was Smash TV, which was done rather well on the Super NES a few years ago but hasn’t had a decent incarnation anywhere else before or since. I’m delighted to say that the translation is excellent. Not flawless, but good enough to keep even the hardcore fans of this game happy. The frame rate is excellent, the graphics and sound are dead-on, but there’s a few times when you get that “stutter” when too much is going on, and a few sound bites have been inexplicably removed. But it’s smoooooth, my friends. And this alone makes the whole CD worth owning!

Other nice touches in this compilation: 720 controls better than you would expect. It replaces the trak-ball from the arcade with the analog controller. Fortunately, it handles the spins and speed quite nicely. Super Sprint was a three-steering-wheel goliath of an arcade machine, and though I really miss whipping that wheel around (which you can do if you own a Playstation steering controller), again the dual analog is up to the task once you get the feel of it. Toobin’ had some really weird control scheme in the arcade, basically like a “left paddle” and “right paddle”, but that’s been simplified greatly here – now you can paddle straight ahead or backwards with just one button, which leaves you less time trying to figure out the controls and more time pelting your partner with beer cans and exploring the various rivers. As for Klax, well, it’s Klax. You love it or you leave it. It’s done faithfully here, and includes the two-player head-to-head mode. I never really understood the two-player game, because it doesn’t seem like your opponent is affected in any way by what you do on your side (unlike Tetris). It’s more like two separate machines operating independently. Of course, you can still TRASH TALK, so how much of a head-to-head experience this is for you depends on how well you can taunt.

Go get it! Not only is Arcade Party Pak a welcome addition to a party, but it’s also a must-have for your classic gaming collection!


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:15 PM