Arcade Essentials Evolution Review

As rip-offs go, few are quite as brazen as Nordcurrent’s, Arcade Essentials Evolution for PSP. Released under the Minis banner, this collection of renamed but outrageously obvious 80’s arcade clones is just about the least original release you’ll see this year. But thanks to the underlying quality of the games upon which each of the five titles available are based, Arcade Essentials is actually well worth a shout for lovers of old school gaming.

They may be re-named (just about) and have a new, if unimaginative, artistic style, but each game on this list plays out exactly as the originals did back in the day. Each of the five games have 50 levels to get through and high scores to chase, but not a single one of them try to do anything new with the core mechanics they have so shamelessly ripped from their inspirations.

Although titled, Vulcanoids, Scolopendra, Smashout, Lunar Parking and Toader, there is little doubt that you’re getting visually tweaked takes on golden oldies, Lunar Lander, Breakout, Asteroids, Centepide and Frogger……..I’ll let you figure out which ones are which.

While I’m not overly keen on the graphical overhaul these titles have received (Toader/Frogger looks especially strange with Arcade Essentials pseudo-futuristic visuals plastered over the top) the look is at least clean and unobtrusive and allows the classic gameplay to come to the fore. And in fairness, the classic gameplay really does shine through.

Arcade Essential Evolution is one of those games that truly benefits from being played on Sony’s PSP. If this were released on iPod, there’s little doubt that the gameplay would have suffered from the inclusion of touch controls. This is classic gameplay at its purest and, despite being something of a rip-off, still deserves classic gameplay controls.

None of these titles are likely to win over a generation brought up on Call of Duty, but for those with fond memories of 80’s arcade cabinets, Arcade Essentials will be well worth a look. For a bit of quick fire gameplay, these titles still hold up remarkably well, even if some of the ‘conversions’ come up a little short.

Of the five games available, I found it hard to get over the visual style of Toader and found the power-ups a little too potent to find Smashout’s block breaking gameplay much of a challenge. Vulcanoids, Scolopendra and Lunar Parking all kept me playing for quite some time with the intense gameplay of Scolopendra and Vulcanoid making them standout titles in the package. While of varying quality, there’s no doubt that each game is more than capable of stealing away a few hours of your life.

If you have a few bucks to spare and a taste for classic 80’s arcade gameplay, Arcade Essentials Evolution will probably be worth your money and your time. It’s not going to change your life and Nordcurrent certainly haven’t done anything to breathe new life into these most classic of templates, but as the saying goes: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The one thing they have changed, namely the visuals, will be a hurdle for some, but if you can get over that, five rather enjoyable score chasers await.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Portable code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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