Written by  :  Robert Morgan (1059)
Written on  :  Jul 21, 2000
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Fun and tight emulator package.

The Good

Contains the cream-of-the-Williams-crop; Joust, Robotron, Defender, Stargate, and Sinistar are all classics that have stood the test of time. Bubbles, while not really considered a classic, is a fun game that few people got to play in the arcades.

The emulation is done very well; people used to needing a high-spec system to run a C64 emu or MAME will be surprised. As mentioned in the trivia section, the games run fine on a mid-speed 386- I myself first used it on a 486sx, hardly a speed demon. (The higher specs are apparently for the FMV/multimedia section, but even those ran fine on my below-spec system.)

Upon installation, the individual games are available thru the Start/Programs menu, without having to go through a frontend or long FMV openings.

The controls are very nice- an analogue joystick is the perfect replacement for the odd 49-way joystick Sinistar had in the arcades. No other system's version of Sinistar comes close to mimicking the feel of the machine. Defender and Stargate have their controls mapped logically to the joystick. Robotron is problematic, since it was originally a 2-joystick game, but that's hard to overcome on any system.

The Bad

The Sinistar's voice scares the hell out of me every time. Sure, I'm used to "Beware, I Live!" and "Run, Coward, Run!"... but when it starts screaming and saying "Run! Run! Run!" my blood runs cold. (Okay, that's a good thing... but still...)

The bleeping of cussing in the FMV with Defender sfx seems unnecessary- since mostly older players are interested in these packages, I'd say we're old enough to withstand a little naughty language.

I hate the whole Defender II thing... it's Stargate! I wish there had been a cheat to restore the original name to the game.

The Bottom Line

While the rest of the world was playing Pac-Man, Williams was creating games for the hardcore gamer. Nearly 20 years later, the games are still viable, and still fun. None of these games are easy (although Joust and Bubbles might appeal to a less-experienced player) but they're certainly rewarding. It's rare to find action games nowadays that send you into the "zone"- where you become one with the machine and become oblivious to everything else. (Come to think of it, that's what used to scare adults about video games back in the 80s...) If you've never been in the "zone", it's time to find out what it's like. And if you miss that "zone", it's here.