Joust «

Joust is an undeniable arcade classic. And, like most arcade classics, it’s a perfect candidate for porting over to the wireless realm. Of course, this game is a little more complex than Galaga or Pac-Man, for example. Joust featured some complex physics and AI that was very advanced for its time. Those are things not so easy to reproduce, which is why this version falters.

“Wow, do I kick ass at Joust! I’m surprised I didn’t play it more back in the day.” That’s what I thought while I was playing this, having completed 30+ waves and racking up 300,000+ points with no end in sight. How was this so easy? I remembered this gaming owning my rear end as a kid.

I decided I needed a second opinion, so I headed over to Midway’s site and its free classic area. Here, I could play an arcade-perfect version of the game using Shockwave. Guess what? I do suck after all. My first game here, I scored 9600 points. Okay, what about Midway Arcade Treasures on Xbox? There, I got 13,500. Keep in mind these were after my supernatural effort on my Nokia handset.

Arcade perfect — at first glance

So, what’s different? First off, there is no flap button on the wireless game. You want to go up? Just hit up. In fact, it’s harder to walk on land than it is to stay in the air — which is the exact opposite of the original game, where it’s a battle to take flight and keep your momentum. Also, on the original coin-op, you would continue to move forward when hitting a direction until you hit the opposite to stop. Not so here. It’s funny how making the control more intuitive essentially ruins the experience.

With so much more control of your jousting ostrich, the enemies are no match. They’re also not too smart to begin with, and basically pace the screen instead of stalking you like they should. The game is a cakewalk. While you see a whole lot of enemies populating the screen, the speed is much slower than the game it’s based upon.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing to some. There is a segment of gamers that will like being the invincible ostrich rider supreme, destroying any bird or pterodactyl that crosses you. I, however, would rather have a stiffer learning curve and fight for my high scores. No arcade game should be so easy that you quit before the final credit has been used.

Joust‘s graphics are good, with sprites that are detailed despite their tiny size. The sound effects, what there is, are decent, as well. Really, it’s a pretty fun game that many will spent a lot of enjoyable time with. However, if you’re going to do an arcade port claiming to be faithful to the original, it can’t play totally different. Maybe I’m just a stickler, and most people won’t care about the differences; but honestly, I’d hate for people to think this is how Joust really was.


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