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Arcade Hits Pack: Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns
Genre: Rail Shooter
Release Date: 08/24/2010
This particular Wii title jams in two old arcade titles for the price of a single game. Two for the price of one? How bad can it be? As it turns out, the Arcade Hits Pack isn’t bad per sé, but it’s nothing special either. Let’s take a look at why that is.
The story in both arcade titles is very simple: Androids have invaded either New York or Los Angeles, depending on the title, and it’s up to you and maybe a partner to save the day with your trusty machine gun. Truth be told, you likely won’t even realize there is a story of any kind once you start shooting at everything in sight, but your actions have some context nonetheless. Both games have been ported directly from their arcade origins, and this is one of the areas in which it shows.
At the main menu, you’re given two main modes”â€namely, to play either Gunblade NY or L.A. Machineguns. Each title allows you to play through four levels, though the latter will throw on a fifth once you clear the fourth. The Options menu allows you to adjust your Wii Remote calibration, decide whether you want the Wii-mote speaker or the rumble feature on or off, the difficulty setting, and change the volume of the music, voices, and sound effects. The last mode you have is a rankings list, which shows you how well you’ve performed in comparison to your friends either at home or, if your Wii system is connected to the ‘Net, around the country. This isn’t much more than a place for bragging rights awards, but it’s the only source of online interaction”â€if you can call it that”â€with other players that you’ll find. The best you can do is to try and improve your score.
In all, there’s not much to work with in regards to game modes. They’re basic and they do their job, and that’s it. Selecting what you want is a simple matter of pointing and pressing the A button; cancel by pressing B.
The graphical quality between Gunblade NY and L.A. Machine Guns is consistent in that they haven’t been updated since they appeared in 1995 and 1998, respectively. The former has blocky polygon people and enemies running around; the latter looks better on the whole, but the graphics are still simplistic. The android enemies and their assortment of crazy equipment are all distinguishable enough for you to aim and shoot once you see them, though the same can’t be said about the civilians that occasionally pop up. Thankfully, in the one time where you have to protect a certain NPC, he’s labeled with a big SOS sign over his head.
The color of the player reticles makes for easy identification when it comes to who’s aiming at what. The exact colors differ between each arcade title, but you’ll be able to tell them apart. Red warning reticles will zoom in on an enemy to inform you that he’s about to rocket you in the face; thankfully, everything up to and including the disarming of missiles can be solved by pouring more lead into it. Keeping track of what’s where is easy enough, but this becomes tricky once there’s a lot on the screen, e.g. missiles, enemy fire, tanks, helicopters, and explosions. The biggest disruption to your aim, though, will come from the speed at which the camera pans around the field, but I’ll elaborate on this in a little bit.
In all, the graphics aren’t much of anything compared to what can be done these days, but you’ll be able to distinguish what you’re supposed to shoot from what you need to leave alone.
The sound you’ll be hearing the most will be that of your machine gun. In fact, with the default volume settings in place, you’ll be hearing the sound effects most prominently of all; the voices are often too soft to be heard effectively “â€ especially during the pre-level briefings “â€ and the music might as well not exist. To be fair, though, you’ll want to hear the sound effects more, as they’re often your cues that something is about to happen (e.g. a missile you didn’t notice before is now coming towards you).
All this said, the sound is nothing special. If you’ve played either Gunblade NY or L.A. Machineguns back when they were in the arcades, everything from the cheesy voices to the rat-tat-tat of your weapons may bring in that nostalgia factor. If you haven’t, then you won’t find anything note-worthy about the sound.
The controls are as simplistic as they were in the arcade days: aim and shoot. Aiming is arguably easier with the Wii Remote because you can point that reticle at whatever you want on the screen, as opposed to using a light gun that’s mounted to an arcade machine. To shoot, press either A or B. You don’t have to worry about reloading because you have infinite ammo, so you can press and hold down the fire button for as long as you want. The ads aren’t joking when they say, “Don’t think, just shoot!” because that’s literally all you’ll be doing. Each level gives you a limited but generous amount of time to reach the end.
When you clear either game, you’ll be given a rank based on your performance (not to be confused with the Rankings mode). Achieving a higher rank means you can obtain different weapons, which you can access by using either the Wii Remote’s D-pad or with the Nunchuk’s joystick. Each direction will be given one of the weapons; pressing down will return you to your default gun. Your other weapons will be a Wide Shot, which will fire a spray of bullets; a Rapid Shot, which fires marginally faster than your default weapon and causes less damage; and a Heavy Shot, which fires slowly but delivers better punch. Aside from this, the rank serves as little more than an aesthetic.
Clearing each game is easy enough, but you may find that the constantly moving and swooshing camera has a habit of throwing off your aim. This isn’t so bad in early levels because you can shoot just anything that moves. Once they start inserting innocent NPCs whose deaths will deduct points from your score, you may find that avoiding them is harder than it should be. The camera rarely holds still long enough for you to really aim before you shoot, and by the time it does, the NPCs are gone anyway. All this said, this is a relatively minor problem.
On the whole, the games are just as easy to pick up and play as they were in the arcades. The only place where you might find the time limit to be not-so-generous is in Level 3 of L.A. Machineguns, but otherwise, you’ll be aiming and shooting your way to victory without having to think much. If you die, just press A to continue.
I can’t imagine someone’s playing through either game more than once unless they were actively competing with someone else. Both are very quick to finish, and the sole incentive you have to play again is either to kill a few minutes, to beat your own high score or someone else’s, or both. Even nostalgia can lead someone to play this for only so long, assuming it doesn’t fade after one run through the games, with or without a partner. Really, the two games don’t have a lot of staying power, despite what a term like Arcade Hits would imply.
Truth be told, the differences in the difficulty settings are minimal. The reasons for this fall under two main factors: one, you have infinite continues; and two, you can have another player join you. The one lose condition these games retain from their arcade days is the time limit; you run out of time, you lose. As I mentioned earlier, though, the time limit is more often than not quite generous. In short, you don’t have to worry much about the timer, and you can continue just by pressing the A button and move on without missing a beat. Having a second player around will make everything even easier as you have another person’s eyes and guns around to help you shoot up more androids.
Put all of this together, and you realize that victory is inevitable without your having to invest much effort into it. If you’re looking for a rail shooter with some challenge behind it, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Strictly speaking, a direct port of a couple of arcade titles really kills the originality factor. Now add to this that Gunblade NY and L.A. Machineguns are pretty much the same game with slightly different graphics, and that the latter’s gameplay additions are minor. The result is… not so great. Those who played the games in the arcades might try these out for the nostalgia, but those of us who haven’t aren’t going to see anything special here.
As the replay value is bad, the addictiveness is also bad. I flipped a coin only to see which title I should try first, but once I finished both of them, I didn’t feel all that compelled to play again. A friend of mine who played the games with me also didn’t think much of them, so clearly, I’m not alone in this sentiment. Not much else I can say here without sounding too redundant.
Speaking of redundancies, allow me to reiterate a point I made earlier: the only ones who could really enjoy these games are those who played them in 1995 and 1998. Admittedly, there is a certain appeal in competing with others for the top score, but I don’t see how this would gain any significant and lasting attention from most gamers. How fun is aim and shoot when the former is all but discarded, and for how long?
At the end of the day, this isn’t exactly the most exciting rail shooter out there.
Rating: Pretty Poor
Since the games are rail shooters, you have little to no control over when and where you move onto the next area. The camera tries to invoke this sense that you’re in a helicopter (in Gunblade NY) or a hover bike (in L.A. Machineguns) by moving around and sweeping through the scenery very fast, but the frequency at which this occurs makes the constantly changing view a distraction. This also comes with a benefit, though; the enemies will try to hit you with missiles, but the camera zooms away before they can make their mark. Thus, you fly away from the danger, and those missiles that were meant for you go elsewhere instead. Maybe we shouldn’t think too hard about where they go once they’re out of sight. This makes the game easier, of course, but this is one case where that’s beneficial; otherwise, players would’ve grown frustrated very quickly if they kept getting hit by missiles that came up from behind them when there’s no way to look backwards.
As Arcade Hits Pack doesn’t come with anything other than the two games as they were way back when, there’s not much else to talk about here.
Appeal Factor: Pretty Poor
Final Rating: Below Average Game
Short-Attention Span Summary
Arcade Hits Pack: Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns is very obviously a direct port of the two titular arcade games of old. While this comes with the simple pick-up-and-play controls and the two-player action, it comes with no extras of any real note. There’s a leaderboard that can display the scores of local players and those across the ‘Net, but that’s it. Players looking for a more difficult rail shooter ought to look elsewhere because the porting of the two games to the Wii has eliminated all the challenge that might’ve been in either of them. All in all, Gunblade NY and L.A. Machineguns were better off in the arcades, but a console version is available if you really want it.