Arcade Original or the Port

Posted on September 9th, 2011 by JMT.
Categories: Articles.

Typically video games (in the past anyway) started out as an arcade game, and were later ported to multiple consoles. At the time, consoles were vastly inferior to arcade machines, and thus ports ranged from inferior to terrible. Eventually as consoles got more powerful, “arcade perfect” ports were possible. Later, “original” modes were spawned, where they would actually improve upon the arcade, or fix known issues.

It seems to be the general consensus that the arcade version is always superior. But I don’t know if I always agree.

How much is based on nostalgia? And it goes both ways. If you played the arcade first, the port will never be exactly the same, so you’ll always deride it. But if you played the console port first, you don’t have that preconception.

I never played arcades. I used to go to Chuck-E-Cheeze Circus Circus all the time, but I always played skee bowl, and rode in a helicopter or truck that went up and down. I always thought it was absurd to pay 25c to 1$ per play when I could play all I wanted for free at home (and most of my games came from garage sales for <5$). The only time I played an arcade game was if it had some cool gimmic you couldn't do at home, like a moving chair or some other interactive environment (like Galaxy Force, and there was some afterburner-like game were you actually moved the whole thing around 360 degrees to aim). Oh, and I loved the ball pits! Funnest thing ever when you are 5. But now that I think about what was probably down there I'm not sure I'd do it again. But it was damn fun in my ignorant youth. So I had an atari 2600, and my first experience with games like millipede, moon patrol, joust, mario bros., etc. was on that. And those were my favorite games for the system. To me, the arcade perfect ports look better, sound better, but the simply don't "play" right. The simpler control and patterns on the atari ports just created a lot more replay value. I remember practicing joust constantly to learn where to start each round to get instant kills. For instance, you can time falling off the top ledge just right to get two instant egg hits in the bonus round. Or knock out the first two birds right as they fly into view. The best was if you stood at the right place on the ledge, when the ledge disappears as the next level begins you'll fall and hit a bird. On the other hand, some games, even playing the port first, I much preferred the arcade version afterwards. For instance, the 32X arcade versions of afterburner and space harrier are far better to me, even though I played the NES and SMS versions first. And then there's original modes. Typically when there is an original mode in conjunction with an arcade mode, well actually typically I'm not savvy enough to notice the minute details (like changes in a fighting game engine), but for the more obvious once I prefer the original, as it usually adds extra stages, ships, or makes things easier. Speaking of which, one thing that makes port better than arcade usually is the difficulty. Arcade games are designed to eat quarters. Not to be beaten in under 3 continues. I much prefer a more sane level of difficulty. Dying every 3 seconds isn't quite my idea of fun. Usually ports are easier, or give unlimited continues. Some people actually complain and say that spoils it, but I much prefer it that way.


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