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Today in Retro Gaming: Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits

Compilations of older video games didn’t start with PS1-era titles like Namco Museum and Activision Classic Games, but the exponential upgrade to storage offered by CD-based media certainly helped boost their popularity. After all, who wouldn’t love the chance to play some arcade hits of yesteryear without needing to sink several thousand bucks into acquiring the cabinets? Turns out that’s exactly what Midway and Digital Eclipse Software were counting on when it came time to release Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits for the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive/Genesis in North America on this date in 1996.

Even today it seems like some form of sorcery that someone was able to code an emulator capable of running these arcade ROMs on machines as slow and with as little memory as the Genesis and SNES. And they really are arcade-perfect ports–everything looks, sounds and behaves like it did back in the day. I’ve read reviews where people complain about a lack of background music, but this isn’t a bug in the cart or a limitation of the emulator. Arcade games from the early 80s simply didn’t have background music aside from the occasional short ditty that played when you dropped in your quarter like you’d see in Pac-Man.

Five games are available for the sixteen-bit incarnation: Defender, Defender II (otherwise known as Stargate in some territories), Sinistar, Joust, and Roboton: 2084. PlayStation and Saturn owners got a bonus sixth game, Bubbles, which I would have loved to see on this collection, but again, the fact the Digital Eclipse programmers managed to stuff five games on one cart is impressive as hell, and if I really want to play Bubbles, I’ll just throw Midway Arcade Treasures into my PS2 and have a go that way.

Some of these games are better suited to home systems than others. Joust for instance suffers not one bit and neither does Defender. Robotron: 2084 on the other hand is absolutely murderous to play without the dual-joystick setup pioneered by Eugene Jarvis for its original arcade cabinet, and is far better suited to a DualShock-enabled PlayStation or similar system. Aside from that though, hey, it’s five arcade games on one cartridge and that’s pretty damn impressive for 1996 technology! Combing our archives produced this ad for the PlayStation version. It’s not the, uh, most impressive way to pimp an arcade compilation, but it’s the best we could find and at least it mentions the SNES and Genesis versions so…good for us?

Grab Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits on Ebay.

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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