Video games were once considered a novelty and a source of entertainment. No one knew how long they would last or where they would take us. Most of the older generation of gamers will most likely be able to tell stories of lining up quarters on popular arcade machines as a marker of when it would be their turn at the challenges awaiting them. I'm one of them. Feeding those machines quarter after quarter for a few minutes of entertainment never felt like enough. Sometimes it wasn't enough to feed that need to see what was next or what all a single game had to offer. It was commonplace to spend as much as possible on a single game, usually totaling about $20 in 1980's money.
Then the home video game market boomed and, after some more waiting, popular arcade hits could be played at home as best as was possible. Then came the crash and the rebirth of home gaming thanks to Nintendo's Famicom and Entertainment System. Arcade games continued to make the transition from arcade hit to home smash for as long as video game consoles and computers have been around. And that's a long time. However those same transitions had to do a few things; remain faithful to the arcade, stay within the restrictions of any console or computer they were being made for, and maintain the game play in all of its glory. Sometimes it worked while other times it didn't.
Here we are many decades later and video games have literally taken over the arcade business. It almost seems like it became more profitable to make games for play on a home console than it was to build an expensive arcade machine that played a single game. People were more likely to buy a $30 - $50 game than they were to spend $1 on a single game play. That might be a bit opinionated but it almost has some truth to it at the same time if you stop to think about it.
Enter the Micro Players by My Arcade. For the around same price as a single console game, or less, one can own a miniaturized version of some popular arcade games. The catch? These small arcade games are repackaged games that once graced the NES/Famicom consoles. It actually makes sense considering the internal workings of those consoles has been shrunk down into a single integrated circuit that can be used in almost any application where the NES hardware is needed or wanted. Honey I Shrunk Our Nintendo might be the best way to put it..
While they are not 100% arcade accurate they do come close. Each one sports decor that is inspired by the arcades which looks very nice. The power switches on these light up to mimic the quarter slots popularized by arcade machines. While the control panel does sport an NES-style setup it does have a joystick handle that can be removed. The backsides contain a volume control and headphone jack as well as the battery compartment. The speaker is also back here. If you don't want to use batteries there is a USB plug on the back as well. On the front is a 2.5" color LCD screen to show the action of the game which works and looks really good.
So, what games can you get in this small arcade setup? Well, let's see. Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man are available as are other Namco favorites like Dig Dug, Galaga, and Galaxian, the latter of which was only released on the Famicom. There are a few Data East titles including BurgerTime, Heavy Barrel, and Bad Dudes to name a few. And it looks like My Arcade picked up the rights to make these small arcades based on Taito games as their web site shows Bubble Bobble and Elevator Action. Also newly advertised are Rolling Thunder (limited to 5,000) and Mappy. And if you watch their E3 video they show Konami's Contra and there's a huge sign showcasing a Space Invaders model. After doing a bit of research it looks like Contra may be using the actual arcade game with a connection to another Contra Micro Player allowed to have some co-op fun. What little I seen about Space Invaders looks like it, too, may use the arcade game. I hope they stick with the cabinet styling that was shown for Space Invaders. That looked very much like the original arcade.
By now it sounds like I am excited about these. For the most part I am but there are some that I simply can not force myself into buying. Namely Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. While most are cool these two would have been better if they were not NES titles. The sounds and colors are not that great. These are two I would have rather seen real arcade ROMs being used. Even the Tiny Arcades by Super Impulse are using more accurate game play and sounds and they are much smaller. All the other games are close enough for me to enjoy and I'm really looking forward to the Contra and Space Invaders releases.
For what it's worth the My Arcade series of Micro Players are entertaining and fun to collect. They can provide many hours of game play and a trip down memory lane for those of us that remember the original NES games. From a personal standpoint it is easier for me to obtain the NES games I missed or can't find through buying these Micro Players as it is about the only way I can find them without paying a huge price as some are rare these days. I look forward to the Space Invaders and Contra models while I enjoy the Galaxian, Karate Champ, and Bad Dudes models I currently own. I know they are not for everyone but I find them entertaining and that's enough for me. Gotta collect them all!
For my collection these are a nice welcome. With these maybe I can have my own personal arcade that's made for those who don't have much space. An original arcade takes up a decent amount of floor space while these smaller arcades can sit on top of a shelf. Imagine have a bunch of these setup like you would expect to see in a real arcade...all of them on and ready to play at the push of a button. No quarter required. Novelty or not I'm glad someone thought these up as I think they are too cool to pass up. My only hope is that My Arcade does more than just Konami's Contra as I would not mind giving a Micro Player a home that has Life Force/Salamander on it. That one is my personal favorite. Imagine if they custom made one for Sunsoft's Blaster Master! Oh...or if they actually used real arcade ROMs for games that never made it on a home console or computer?
What if Sega got on board and My Arcade Micro Players started having a line up including OutRun, Space Harrier, and After Burner? Who else is there? SNK. You can't forget their games. They gave us the Ikari Warrior series and Guerrilla War. Those reading this that own these do you enjoy them? Do you collect them to play or collect them just to collect them? Are their any titles you could think of that would make great additions to the My Arcade line up? I'll end it here and leave the imagination open for comments. Besides, Galaxian is calling my name.