Category Archives: 12 Video Games of Christmas

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Midway Arcade Origins

Today in our The 12 Video Games of Christmas feature, we have Midway Arcade Origins for PS3, developed by Backbone Entertainment and released by Warner Bros. Interactive.

Warner Bros. picked up the assets of Midway when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009.  Their presentation here of 30 classic Midway arcade games is certainly a no-frills affair, where you merely  quickly cycle through the cabinets to choose your game, while the murmur of a busy arcade plays in the background.  A nice option though is being able to tag games as favourites, so you can use that option to quickly find the cabinets you prefer to play on.  You also get access to operators switch options, letting you do things like change difficulty or add more lives.  Unfortunately, there are no bonuses or history offered.

There could also be some more options given for configuring controls in the games, although most of them feel pretty good on the PS3 gamepad.  It’s also great to see these classics up on the big screen, bezel art and all.  A high score leaderboard system helps you keep tabs on your friends’ activities in the arcade.

I wouldn’t exactly call this collection the “origin” of Midway’s storied past in the video game world, but it certainly is a cornucopia of gaming goodness from the company.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Ms. Pac Man for iOS

The 12 Video Games of Christmas continues with Ms. Pacman for iOS.

Now, this one was before my time but I have actually played an arcade cabinet of this before. I can remember playing this and Operation Wolf at an old boardwalk arcade when I used to live in the UK. I was pretty young so I had to stand on a milk crate to play them. 

I remember having a great time with this because at its core the game is classic Pac Man action. It’s all here; the classic gameplay is replicated in style with a neat cabinet style controller interface down the bottom of the screen and faithfully recreated gameplay. If you’ve ever played the game before and are wondering just what the difference between the two games is here is the short version: Ms. Pac Man features redesigned mazes in four different styles, moving fruits, random ghost movement making predicting their movements a lot more challenging and new music and sound effects. 

There is a reason these arcade games were so popular (and let me tell you, Ms. Pac Man was one of the most popular arcade games of all time!) and if you want to get in on the arcade action you can drop some iTunes credit here and download the game to your iOS device.

Were you addicted to pellets back in the day? Share your stories of obsessive Ms. Pac Man playing in the comments section. No intervention required. 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Another World for iOS

Welcome back to the 12 Video Games of Christmas! 

Today, we’re looking at another fluidly animated platformer from the past with Delphine Software’s masterpiece: Another World.

Originally released for home computers and consoles in 1991 Another World (or Out of this World) amazed gamers with fluid animation and cinematic presentation that many thought was impossible on a cartridge. Using rotoscoping the visionary developer created a pulse pounding science fiction adventure that roped players into a brilliantly realised world. Who doesn’t remember that massive black monster bounding ominously towards them in the background at the beginning of the game?

With remastered sound, HD graphics and achievement support BULKYPIX has given iOS gamers a great little piece of gaming history if they missed out on it originally or they can’t play it on an original console anymore. I for one will be sticking to my Mega Drive copy though. Head here to drop some iTunes credit!

It’d be great to hear if anyone has played Another World or the equally excellent Flashback. Share some memories in the comments section everybody! 

The 12 Video Game of Christmas: Atari’s Greatest Hits

Wrapping up an entire video game arcade is a little tough.  Today’s entry in The 12 Video Games of Christmas makes it a whole lot easier.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app is a masterfully made collection of classic Atari arcade and VCS/2600 games, available for both iOS and Android.

“Options” is the operative word here, and Atari provides plenty of.  The app is available for free, and with that you get Atari’s cold-war influenced arcade game Missile Command.  If you want to add to your classic collection, you can: download 4-game packs for $0.99 each, buy a pack of 15 tokens for $0.99 that lets you sample any games you wish, or buy the whole shebang of 100 games for $5.99.  What’s even better, though, are the myriad of control options you get.  You’d be justified in worrying how a mobile app would handle the wide gamut of control options you get in the long history of Atari games, like the trak ball in Centipede to the thrust controller of Lunar Lander to the VCS paddles of Video Olympics and more.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app serves up multiple ways of playing the game, sometimes with 7 or more configurations; fixed joystick, touch-screen control, fire button on the right, fire button on the left, on the top, on the bottom… it’s a given that you’ll find some way to play the game comfortably, either in portrait or landscape mode.  What’s more, this app was the first to offer support of the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, and Atari has since come out with their own official Atari Arcade joystick for the iPad.  It’s not as retro-cool as the iCade, but it comes in lighter in weight as well as price, selling for $59.99 as opposed to $99.99 for the iCade.

All these options, plus 2-player simultaneous play via Bluetooth for some games.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app lets you defy physics by stuffing an entire arcade into the stocking of the retrogamer in your life.  Get it here from Apple’s app store, or for Android at Google Play.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Pac-Man for iPad.

Yellow ornaments hang from the tree in today’s The 12 Video Games of Christmas.  Wait, that one is eating the tinsel!  Darn you, Pac-Man!

Made by Namco and selling for $4.99 in the App Store, this round of Pac-Man is for the iPad only. It definitely feels like the arcade game, and has some good options for controlling our yellow hero.  Using the virtual joystick feels a bit logey, but an option to move Pac around the maze by swiping your finger to make him turn feels surprisingly responsive.  What’s really neat, however, is the accelerometer control scheme, where you tilt the iPad to move the character, kind of rolling him around the maze like in a marble-roll game such as Labyrinth.  It feels pretty cool and physical, although not particularly precise.  All of these control methods come included with the free Lite version; if you want to really get the arcade controller experience by hooking the game up to the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, you’ll need to pay for the full version of the app.

Another interesting addition to the formula is the ability to continue your game where you left off after losing your last man, by spending Namco coins, which, of course, you can purchase with real cash.  This particular freemium endeavour is not so obnoxious as others you find in the app store, as you get an awful lot of the program in the free version.

Pac-Man for iPad can be gobbled up at the iTunes App Store. Bon appétit!

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Doom Classic for iOS

As the 12 Video Games of Christmas extravaganza continues with a nice little gem from id Software. Doom Classic is a faithful recreation of one of the most popular FPS games of all time. If you’re here reading this you probably don’t need Doom explained to you but for the sake of context here’s a little background.

In 1993 id Software released Doom much to the chagrin of office Managers everywhere. By 1995 the game was estimated to be installed on more computers than Windows 95. The game catapulted id from an obscure Texas based game developer to the holy ground of shooter game development. Now, the game that filled a thousand BBS’s in shareware form can be yours for Christmas for the bargain price of $4.99. 
Doom Classic isn’t just a cheap cash-in port either. There have been features implemented like tilt strafing and tilt turning and “auto use” which opens doors or pushes switches automatically that take advantage of the unique idiosyncracies of the iOS platform. 
If you’re expecting some iTunes cards for Christmas then definitely put Doom Classic on your “list of things to get with that iTunes card I got for Christmas” – or that Dimensional Shambler won’t be pleased. Here’s a link to expedite potential Doom-ing: Doom Classic

If you (like myself) wasted much of your young life playing way too much Doom then share some experiences in the comment section. Whether it was forgetting to eat or talking back to the quit messages it’d be great to hear them! 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Prince of Persia Classic for iOS

Welcome back to the 12 Video Games of Christmas!

Anyone who grew up with a home computer in the early 90′s probably remembers Prince of Persia. My earliest memories of playing the game go all of the way back to sitting in the dingy after school program room playing DOS games like Gods, Castle Wolfenstein and of course: Prince of Persia. 

The animation impressed me and it still is impressive if you look back on it today. Such an important game does not deserve to be relegated to the “Halls of Obscurity” (a place I just made up) and thankfully if you’re packing iTunes cards around the Christmas period then you can pick up Prince of Persia Classic for iPod and iPad for only $1.99 – honestly. That is really cheap considering you get the original game with updated visuals, updated level design and modern game design sensibilities. 



Prince of Persia Classic features three modes and Game Centre achievement support which should extend play for diligent players. The price is really compelling though, so if you have $1.99 laying around the dusty confines of your iTunes wallet then drop it on an updated piece of gaming history today here: Prince of Persia Classic.

Did anyone else play Prince of Persia growing up? Let’s hear about your swashbuckling antics! 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: iCade

The arcade in your home!

Our entry today in The 12 Video Games of Christmas comes in its own beautiful wooden box:  the iCade.

This squat and sturdy mini-arcade cabinet started life as an April Fool’s Day prank in 2010, part of a tradition at the ThinkGeek website that also spawned the tauntaun sleeping bag.  As the iCade joke post went viral, however, response for a real device was so strong that ThinkGeek teamed up with ION Audio to actually produce it.  ION Audio is the consumer brand of Numark Industries, makers of professional DJ equipment.  Also partnering with the project was Atari, and their classic game app Atari’s Greatest Hits was the sole compatible game program with the iCade’s launch on June 27, 2001.
As stated, the iCade is solidly built, a wooden cabinet into which one slides any generation of iPad.  The two devices connect via Bluetooth, after which compatible apps will display the iCade as a controller.  Since launch, the list of supported apps has been growing, including Midway Arcade and the recently released Vectrex Regeneration.  The iCade’s joystick is professional grade, although its action could be a bit tighter.  The buttons, all eight of them, are rock solid and have a real arcade feel.  Overall, the iCade goes a long way to mitigating the control problems you generally find playing classic games on mobile devices.
The cabinet is available from ThinkGeek and various retailers, usually selling for $99.99.  Currently, however, ThinkGeek has them on sale for $69.99.  Recently ION has released the iCade Jr., a similar device for the iPhone, but I think this is delving a little bit into the ridiculous.  It is a bit cheaper, however, going for $49.99.  
Buy the retrogamer in your life an iCade, and you are truly giving them the gift of the arcade.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Atari Flashback 4

Just wrapped up with Pac-Man gift paper and stuffed into Santa’s sack is our next retro video game present for our 12 Video Games of Christmas: the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe.

Probably the next best thing to actually going on eBay and bidding on an authentic Atari VCS/2600 game console, the Flashback 4 is a stylized replica of the venerable Atari workhorse video game console.  It plugs into your TV inputs, and included are 75 built-in video games, Atari VCS/2600 classics like Night Driver, Asteroids and Adventure.  Unfortunately, most likely due to licensing issues, third-party games such as Activision’s Pitfall are not on the list.

A nice inclusion, though, are wireless controllers in the style of the originals.  Ironic, considering Atari actually produced wireless 2600 controllers back in 1983, although the ones included in this package aren’t nearly as monstrous.  Replica game paddle controllers also come bundled with the deluxe model, which should make playing games like Breakout and Video Olympics feel much more natural.

The Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe is made by AtGames and sells for $79.99, although at this writing they are currently sold out, so you should keep an eye out for replenished supplies, or you might have to do some searching to see if they are available online at various auction sites and the like.

Here is the AtGames online store page for the Flashback.

Have you gifted Atari today?