Game Review

Data East Arcade Classics Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

Some golden oldies from an arcade pioneer

Data East Corp. was one of the original wave of Japanese video game developers that had their wares appear in American arcades at the beginning of the 1980s. They didn't have as big a string of hits as contemporaries like Namco, Konami, Taito or Sega, but they did release a few titles that gamers above a "certain age" will remember seeing in their neighbourhood arcade or 7-11.

Like SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 this is a genre-spanning collection of classic arcade games. Because Data East was more or less a "second string" developer, a lot of these titles are only likely to be familiar to people who spent a lot of time in arcades in the 80s and 90s – and even then there's probably two or three mystery games here. Still, given Data East's level of output they're certainly deserving of a collection like this and their catalogue is sufficiently large enough that more compilations of their games could easily be produced.

A collection like this cannot be judged solely on the games themselves, because anyone can repackage an emulator and dump it on the market to milk the aging nostalgia gamer. Thankfully developer G1M2 have put together a pretty decent package with extras that should please fans of arcade classics. Echoing the SNK collection, each game has three medals to earn by completing goals like beating a high score or other achievements. Attaining the first goal unlocks music tracks, achieving three will grant you access to various files in the Gallery (including marquees, flyers and bezel art) and meeting the requirements for all five will unlock a harder "Special" mode for the game.

There's a pretty good range of games on offer: BurgerTime, Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory, Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja, Burnin' Rubber, Caveman Ninja, Crude Buster, Express Raider, Heavy Barrel, Lock ‘n' Chase, Magical Drop III, Secret Agent, Side Pocket, Street Hoop, Super Real Darwin and Wizard Fire. Naturally there are some duds here: Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory is certainly rare, but you only need to play it a few times to find out why as figuring out how to play the game is neither as easy or as much fun as its predecessor, Burger Time. We also have to wonder what the point is of having a sub-par game of video billiards in a collection on a console that has two superior variants on WiiWare and in the ubiquitous Wii Play – especially considering what else could have taken that slot. Nevertheless the quality of the other games compensates for these two and it's unlikely any arcade gaming fan will go wanting even if they don't have the feelings of nostalgia as evoked in this reviewer.

We couldn't find any fault in the visual department aside from the fact that widescreen displays aren't supported. Whilst we can appreciate these games were originally presented on 4:3 raster CRTs, the fact is that flat panel 16:9 televisions are now the standard and both the non-Sega VCA releases and Namco Museum Remix are pre-formatted for widescreen displays – the latter even uses the bezel art for the pillarboxing of the display to great effect, which seems something of a missed opportunity here. Even if you take into account the fact that many homes in North America still have 4:3 televisions that doesn't justify omitting a widescreen option for everyone else. At least 480p vertical resolution is supported, though widescreen television owners will note fonts in older games and the dots in Lock 'n' Chase have funny shapes due to the more rectangular pixel shape you get with a modern display.

The controls aren't an issue given that most of these games were played with only a joystick and one or two buttons and in one case a great argument can be made for playing old games in a collection of this sort rather than using an emulator. Heavy Barrel was one of a few games to use a special "rotary joystick" which players could twist to change the direction of fire and allow for a Robotron-level of control over movement and shooting direction, whilst also allowing for multiple fire buttons. In an emulator like MAME the rotary control is simply rendered as clockwise and anti-clockwise, which is actually a pretty poor solution on a conventional gamepad and compromises the gameplay. Here the developers have mapped different aiming directions to the right (STICK) on the Classic Controller whilst the (L) and (R) buttons are used for grenades and fire, respectively, giving the player as close an experience to the actual arcade game as possible using a gamepad. Naturally you can remap button presses as you see fit (great for CC Pro owners who want to use the lower triggers for Heavy Barrel).

Of course there are a few things we found disagreeable: namely the amount of loading screens we saw going back-and-forth between game submenus and the extras as well as the auto-save functionality (or lack thereof). Auto-saving is pretty common in games today and you'd probably take it for granted that after you've earned the high score in Burgertime or remapped (Y) on your Classic Controller to be the primary button in every game, this information would be saved. Whilst it's true that your goal achievement data is saved, it's not the case with game data. If you fail to choose the "Save" option before exiting from a game menu back to the main menu you'll find the next time you play a game your old scores will be wiped out as will your control settings. It may seem like a small thing, but we were kind of hoping that the days of having to load and save in collections like this had gone out a long time ago. Just remember that every time you're done with a game you want to "Save" and, unless it's your first time playing, choose "Load" rather than "New" game when you tuck in. On the plus side you can save mid-game, which is great for keeping your place whilst you attack the Burgertime world record!

The lack of configurable game options also seems like a fairly substantial omission. Players are faced with whatever difficulty level was chosen by the developers and cannot change the starting number of lives or the score required for a bonus life. It's not a huge problem, but it does suggest that possibly less attention was paid to the details than maybe should have been; especially since the latter options are universally found on other game compilations and all Virtual Console Arcade releases for the Wii.


Data East may not have had the golden touch when it came to making arcade games, but they certainly had a few gems in their catalogue, which Data East Arcade Classics does a good job of sampling. Whether you like brawlers, shooters, puzzlers or sports you'll find something to occupy you here. It's a shame the developers didn't do a better job of the overall presentation and the save system really needs some work, but if you like the mouldy oldies or want to see what arcade gaming was all about towards the end of the 20th century, it's certainly worth your while to add this to your Wii library.

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User Comments (54)



grenworthshero said:

Data East made some good games back in the day, but this collection seems to be missing some of my favorites, so I wont be picking it up



The_Fox said:

7 sounds right to me. Bad Dudes, Secret Agent and Burgertime are all great. Shame Ice Cream Factory was a steaming load.



AlphaNerd01 said:

Lots of Data East titles missing, but an insider told me that, "if this release is successful, a sequel is possible." I can't reveal my source, but it's credible. With that said, I'm disappointed with the presentation, but happy with the catalog. Room for improvement, but not a bad compilation either. 7/10 is a fair score. Definitely worth a GameFly rental.



Ristar42 said:

Now bring it to the EU!

Just a minor edit to ask, does anyone know if EU release is likely?



Ren said:

Is that really all that fits on the disc? some of those were bad back then, too. Bad Dudes and Burgertime make it for me, but hardly worth modern retail to play those 2. Why not just chock a whole bunch on there?



Yanagi said:

I got this game primarily for Heavy Barrel and Bad Dudes. Magical Drop III was surprisingly fun, Secret Agent wasn't bad, and Burgertime is, pretty much, an unsung classic. A lot of the others were pretty forgettable, though.

There were some games that would have been welcome additions, though. I was surprised that Karate Champ was not on here. Last Mission, Act-Fancer, and Midnight Resistance would have been great, too.

I will say, though, that I am glad that they passed on Tattoo Assassins: Good Lord!



TrueWiiMaster said:

Does this mean that the console versions of these games (I'm referring to Caveman Ninja) won't come to the VC? I hope they do because Joe and Mac 1 and 2 are some of my favorite games from the SNES.



cheetahman91 said:

Not being able to configure the DIP switches is unacceptable. I'm still getting the game but that still is a pretty boneheaded move by G1M2.
Great review.



Stuffgamer1 said:

Mistake report!
'Echoing the SNK collection, each game has three medals to earn by completing goals like beating a high score or other achievements. Attaining the first goal unlocks music tracks, achieving three will grant you access to various files in the Gallery (including marquees, flyers and bezel art) and meeting the requirements for all five will unlock a harder "Special" mode for the game."

Good review overall, though. Sounds to me like this game's probably worth the low $20 MSRP.

@cheetahman: Umm...if it was really "unacceptable," you'd refuse to buy the game. By getting it, you're accepting the conditions of the software.



ogo79 said:

they need to put bad dudes arcade on vc but now its highly unlikely anytime soon now...



gojiguy said:

The SNK collection is NOT formatted for Widescreen Tvs...

little error there, Sean. You still have to switch your TV display mode to play SNK Arcade Classics.



SmaMan said:

Hmm, they dug deep for obscure classics... but they forgot NIGHT SLASHERS!!! Gaaah that game was awesome!



JamieO said:

I've been looking forward to Data East Arcade Classics since it was announced, but I decided to wait for Sean's review before I spent my pennies. I'm pleased they put the effort into 480p, the awesome Wii Metal Slug Anthology and SNK comp did not seem to bother.
The Heavy Barrel controls seem to make sense, I'm looking forward to playing that, but I think that I will play Sly Spy: Secret Agent first, I am really curious about that title. I will move onto Caveman Ninja, Crude Buster and Bad Dudes after that, 'cause "I'm Bad", too!
I hope that Pal retro gamers get to play this one and I really hope that it sells, so like @AlphaNerd01 mentions, we get a sequel and arcade Midnight Resistance is included. My list of preferred titles for a sequel is similar to @Yanagi's, a friend on Twitter was telling me that Data East's Act Fancer (1989) is a really fun, but hard run-and-gun game.
Thanks Sean, my order is in to import it from VideoGamePlus.Ca. Whoa, I think that I have just bought their last copy, they now list it as sold out!.



Namo said:

Hey, they put Burger Time and Magical Drop 3 up there. I'm definitely getting this.

coughBad dudes iscoughover rated.



Sean_Aaron said:

@Stuffgamer1: That's not an error. Each game has five goals, but there are only three medals. You get nothing for achieving two or four goals, only for 1, 3 and 5.

@gojiguy: I have a PAL copy of SNK Arcade Classics and I thought it supported widescreen, but I could be wrong so I've made a small change to the review.

I'd hope that if/when Majesco does a PAL release of this they'll format for widescreen displays because we've had widescreen TVs as the norm prior to the introduction of flat panels unlike North America.



outrun2sp said:

These games are not designed to run in widescreen and if you stretch the picture you get horrible upscaling like SNK arcade classics.

Good collection though and secret agent is the best game on it.



Sean_Aaron said:

When I say run in widescreen I mean pillarboxing the image so that I don't have to toggle through the tv format settings myself. Namco and Tecmo VCA titles have this masking and Namco Museum Remix does as well, though it uses bezel artwork for the pillars which is a great effect.



Sean_Aaron said:

Okay I've removed the reference to SNK Arcade Classics being preformatted for widescreen displays because I'm not so sure now about the PAL release and added a little note about being able to save mid-game. Glad you were able to score a copy JamieO!

I did mail Majesco in the UK about a PAL release and was told there were no plans at this time. I'll forward the link to this review and hopefully that will help spur some development. If they do address some of the issues here I would totally buy the PAL version as well.



outrun2sp said:

If boy and his blob sold well it may get a release. Ive had to move into the import market now (with a bit of help) as it almost costs the same as getting a PAL release anyway and has stopped my moaning about stuff not coming out. Ebay is the place for this.

Got Shikigami 3 for roughly £20.00 on ebay after converting currency.

Also have Radirgy Noah on order from Play Asia although im told there are minor problems with the Japanese txt font as my machine doesnt have that available (not in game though). Even Contains Arcade Shooter Illvelo on the disk as well.



JamieO said:

@SeanAaron Cheers to you mate, I knew from NLife's forums that you were planning on reviewing it, so I held back until your final verdict. I do like Video Games Plus, I'm sure that they will get it back in stock soon. Canada has been a reliable source for my imported Wii games for a while now, DVD Box Office has free shipping, but does not seem to stock as many niche retro titles.
Obviously the best way for a UK gamer to play this is if it gets that PAL release, so good luck convincing Majesco. I am a big fan of retro compilations, I like to know that I have the games on disc, even with titles that I've downloaded.
I hope that Ignition read your review, because lots of gamers are still enthusiastic about retro compilations and a Wii SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 2 would be a must buy.



ODOGG618 said:

Where's RING KING???? The crappy NES version won't do, I want the arcade version!!!!



Robio said:

I picked this up a couple days ago. Got to say this would have been more preferrable in individual releases on the Virtual Arcade (when was the last time that saw any support anyway?). Burger Time is still a lot of fun. Caveman Ninja isn't bad, and Wizard Fire is decent though very rough around the edges. Everything else ranges from a "meh" to "who in their right minds would have even found this fun 20 years ago?"



BlueFlameBat said:

I feel your pain, but I also think including Night Slashers would bump the rating up to an M (or other region equivalent). This is why I think the parental controls should be advanced to limit content within certain games based on the settings. That way you could put more than one rating on one disc.



Ricardo91 said:

I think I'll pass on this one after all. I was really excited for it cuz of Burger Time, but the other games seem like a waste. I guess I'll just play Burger Time and Magical Drop on MAME...



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Sean Aaron: Ohh...I guess I just misunderstood, then. Thanks for the clarification!

Honestly, I doubt I'll bother with this collection. I'm currently making a concentrated effort to cut back on buying too many games, and this doesn't seem terribly important to my tastes. But it's still good to have more info in case any GameStop customers ask about it.



SmaMan said:

This reminds me of the lack of Shadowrun on the VC... y'know, the REAL Shadowrun, not the Counter Strike clone.



Bakajin said:

I'll probably get this, but really I'd've been much happier spending much less for a VCA release of Bad Dudes. Why couldn't they have put Karnov on this?



Sean_Aaron said:

Karnov and Chelnov rights are actually held by another Japanese company (the same guys who own the rights to the Hercules RPG). The games in this collection are owned by mobile game company, G-Mode. I don't know if the rights-holder of Karnov and Chelnov Atomic Runner would be willing to license them as they've already released the excellent Mega Drive version of Chelnov on the Japanese Virtual Console and may want to handle any ports themselves. Time will tell!



TheLonelyGamer said:

Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory sounds cool, it must be some sort of sequel or spin-off to Burgertime, and I love Burgertime.



CrazyOtto said:

I'll have to try it out sometime!

They should give this a worldwide release instead of only keeping it in the US.



Sean_Aaron said:

@TheLonelyGamer: it's a direct sequel to Burgertime and it's insanely hard beyond the point of being fun. It's interesting to have due to its "long lost" status, but it's probably not something you'll play a lot of.

I've mailed Majesco UK and indicated interest in a European release, so fingers crossed!



JDesensitized said:

Wizard Fire is awesome.

By the way, G-Mode doesn't own Karnov or Kid Niki. That's why they aren't on this collection.

I'm just hoping for a sequel with Boogie Wings and Edward Randy on it.

Oh yeah, and I want my SNK Arcade Vol. 2 already!



michaelmax said:

For the low price. I couldn't help getting this for Bad Dudes, Street Hoop (a very under-rated arcade basketball game), Crude Busters, and Caveman Ninja. Bad Dudes is so freaking classic. If you look up the word classic in the dictionary, it says: See Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja by Data East!



vikingscool said:

Did you know that game "Bump 'n' Jump" but that titled with an alternative title "Burnin' Rubber" labeled in North America release, why?! But I never heard of that title, but I know that game since I been played on the NES version.



y2josh said:

Just got my copy of this game the other day, had it preordered but cancelled and got it at GameStop when they finally got it in. I had forgotten how cheap and evil some of these games were, especially Sly Spy. I mean good grief lol. I see why mom didn't let me play many of these arcade games when I was little. The ones I remember from this collection are the ones I played on a handheld or home console of some sort and the arcade counterparts definitely seem to up the difficulty, all for the extra quarter or two



JamieO said:

@y2josh Have you given Wizard Fire (1992) a blast yet, mate? I was really pleased to stumble across that co-op isometric adventure, I had never even heard of it before. You know that a game is good when within the first 30 secs the big first level boss dragon has swooped above your head and within 2 mins you are battling it out with him. It is not a game to take too seriously either, seeing as it is packed with cheesetastic speech and laughable shuffling feet animation. It is sweet how that game takes up the entire widescreen on a HDTV, the sprites and backgrounds look great in full screen. I wonder if it was a 16:9 game in the arcade?.

Wizard Fire reminds me of Dungeon Magic (1993/1994), or Lightbringer as it was known in Japan, which featured on the PS2 compilation, Taito Legends 2.

Good stuff.

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