Ultimate Arcade Games
by Craig Harris
August 3, 2005 - Over the past few years of the Game Boy Advance's lifespan, publishing house Telegames has released a decent variety of titles for the handheld. But it was when the company released Ultimate Brain Games when it struck gold, producing a fantastic pack of games that made sense on the portable scene: quick, pick-up-and-play challenges that focused on the fact that gamers generally don't invest tons of time in a single play session. The success spawned a continuation in the form of Ultimate Card Games, besting Brain Games with another batch of familiar and fun games that work extremely well on the go.
Coming up next in the series is Ultimate Arcade Games, a collection of original yet familiar old-school arcade designs that mirror the original idea of the Ultimate series. The pack's set for a September release, but Telegames gave us an early look at the product that's nearing its final build.Ultimate Brain Games and Ultimate Card Games were developed by Cosmigo, but Ultimate Arcade Games is a product of Nocturnal Entertainment, development studio in Australia. Even with the different team at the helm, Ultimate Arcade Games features similar elements that keeps with the Ultimate themes. Many of the games in this pack stand on their own and work well in the quick-shot GBA environment. The development team even added a statistics screen so you can keep track of how long you've played and all the extras you've unlocked.The games within Ultimate Arcade Games aren't licensed titles from the golden age of the game room. Instead, these are all original games. Several are variations of more familiar arcade games, each having a distinct flair to make them their own design. "Merchant Galactic" is a new version of "Lunar Lander." "Chip Bot" is a cross between Pac-Man and Bomberman. "Bee Keeper" uses Mr. Driller for its inspiration. And "Asteroid Mine," well, we don't have to tell you what this game's based on. "Highway 51" feels a lot like the arcade game Spy Hunter, and Omega Force is very similar to Scramble. "Flipside," "Galaxy Hero," and "Treasure Hunter" are similar to Breakout, Galaga, and Pitfall respectively.From the start, only a few games are available. But by winning tokens by winning challenges in the available arcade games, you'll earn enough money to go into the game's shopping mall and purchase the harder to get arcade games. It's an element that encourages players to best their techniques and high scores, and gives them something to shoot for within each of the challenges.The games admittedly feel a little on the generic side, almost as if they were built in Game Maker style software. The reason for this is pretty clear when you understand the development team's background: Nocturnal provides a GBA toolset to game designers called Catapult, and it's obvious that all of the games within Ultimate Arcade Games were constructed using the Catapult toolset by a variety of different programmers and designers. But the games do show that the Catapult kit is versatile and powerful enough to pull off decent GBA hardware abilities like background and sprite scaling and rotation, as well as transparency effects for that extra graphical flair.The games within Ultimate Arcade Games seem almost like a collection of winning titles from a GBA game design competition. The games vary in graphic, sound, and gameplay quality, which can most likely be attributed to the variety of teams responsible for each title in the pack.But even with that said, there's a good amount of variety in Ultimate Arcade Games package, and at the very least the games hit the mark when going for that "pick up and play" essence. We'll have a full review of this arcade pack when it ships next month. Before we get there, be sure to hit the media link below to check out the latest screens and video.