If you read this blog’s guidelines, you know that I don’t normally review ports, console or arcades games. Mostly I do this to give exclusive PC games a chance to shine. But how about arcade ports released on the PC? And instead of reviews, why not a Top10? Think of it as a way to bend my guidelines. But before that, some basic rules:
- Only retro ports of arcade titles are featured. That means any port released for the PC up to 1999, included. There won’t be any mention of modern ports of retro arcade titles (e.g.: D&D Chronicles of Mystara or Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection).
- Only official releases. No clones or fan-made games (e.g.: PC-Man or Mario Bros VGA).
- To make the list more diverse, only one game per series or franchise is allowed. You won’t find entire collections in one entry.
- I haven’t played every single retro arcade port out there, so if you think of any title that should be on this list, mention it in the comments below.
- I rated the list based on the faithfulness of the ports, if they’re fun to play and if they’ve aged well.
OK, let’s start:
Turbo OutRun was ported by Code To Go and released in 1990 and it’s way better than its sequel, with good graphics and average controls. The reason why I don’t put it higher on the list is due to the lack of music, the lack of quality in the sound effects and the scale of the sprites in comparison with the arcade original. Apart from that, it’s still a nice driving game. You can play it here.
Golden Axe was released in 1990 and it’s closer to the Megadrive/Genesis port than to the arcade original. It has great graphics and a good soundtrack. And again, the reason why it isn’t higher in the list is due to the slow animation and the awful sound effects. Still, it’s probably the best computer port of Golden Axe. You can play it here.
Arkanoid: Revenge of DOH aka Arkanoid II was ported by NovaLogic and released in 1989. It’s a pretty faithful conversion with great mouse controls, nice music, sound effects and animation, and it even features a level editor. The EGA graphics could have been a bit more colourful. The reason I didn’t score it higher was that I’ve found the rest of the games in the list better. You can play it here.
Bubble Bobble was also ported by NovaLogic and released in 1988. NovaLogic did some great conversions of Taito’s titles and this one is no exception. Very faithful with great music, sound, graphics, animation and controls. The reason it isn’t higher is that there was a bug in the original release that slowed the gameplay on faster PCs. But nowadays, with patches and DosBox, it isn’t a problem anymore. You can play it here.
Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off-Road was ported by Graftgold and released in 1990. Another faithful port with some over-sensitive controls that prevent it from being higher on the list. You can play it here.
Operation Wolf was ported by Banana Development and released in 1989. A great (and hard) faithful port, albeit with some average sound effects but with tight mouse controls. You can play it here.
Mortal Kombat was ported by Probe Software and released in 1993. I was torn between including this one or Mortal Kombat 3, but I ultimately decided on this one due to the CD-ROM release being virtually arcade perfect in all aspects: graphics, sound, music, animation with good controls and none of the censorship that plagued some home releases. You can buy it on GOG.com (along with 2 and 3).
Super Street Fighter II Turbo was ported by Eurocom and released in 1995. Based on the 3DO port, this one is another almost arcade-perfect conversion, especially the CD-ROM release which featured an arranged soundtrack. I also like to point out the tight controls with the original 6 button-scheme from the arcade original. You can play it here.
Now, before we move on to number 1, let’s first look at some honorable mentions:
PC-Man might be one of the best Pac-Man clones to play on DOS, but Ms Pac-Man (ported by Quality Software and released in 1984) is actually a pretty fun port that barely misses our list, mostly due to its age. You can play it here.
When playing through several arcade ports for preparation for this list, one title that surprised me was Altered Beast (ported by Unlimited Software and released in 1990). Another fun port that barely missed the list, only due to its horrible colour palette. Everything else in it, it’s actually not bad, especially the music. You can play it here.
With this out of the way, we can now move on to…
Taito’s Super Space Invaders was ported by Kremlin and released in 1991. Yes, this is not an arcade-perfect port but it takes the arcade original and expands upon it by adding a lengthy cartoon intro, a story and branching paths. Not to mention that it’s still a fun game to play nowadays. You can play it here.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my list and I know I haven’t played every arcade port out there, which is why I encourage everyone to list their favourite ports in the comments below. Also, let me know if you want to see more lists like this one. Until then, keep on playing and inserting more credits.