Midway Arcade brings a classic gaming arcade to your iPhone

If you've been waiting for games like Joust and Defender to come to the iPhone, Midway Arcade is now available with 10 games for 99 cents.

One of the great things about having grown up with video games and then writing about iOS apps is that all my favorites seem to eventually be playable on my phone. I wrote about Atari's Greatest Hits some time ago, but even though I liked seeing some of the old classics on my phone, the controls were flawed. Though they were playable, most of the games didn't really live up to my memory of them.

Yes, I know I'm probably looking at my youth through rose-colored glasses, but in this case it's true--the control issues really took away from the games.

Today, another group of classic arcade games were made available on iOS, and this time they might have the control schemes (mostly) worked out. Midway Arcade (99 cents), out today, takes a lot of those classic games from the '80s and gives you some touch-screen options that work somewhat better, though it's still not perfect (Rose-colored glasses again? Maybe). This 99-cent game features Joust, Defender, Rampage, Spy Hunter, Arch Rivals, Root beer Tapper, and then some other more interactive games one would usually find at classic arcades like, air hockey, basketball quick-shot games, billiards, and Roll Ball (a Skee Ball clone). You have the option to buy two more 99-cent packages of games through in-app purchase. The Adventure Game Pack includes Gauntlet 1 and 2, and Wizard of Wor. The Action Game Pack comes with NARC, Total Carnage, and APB.

What's interesting is that Midway Arcade is laid out like an actual classic arcade. A two-level, open-air building features the included standup arcade games on the top level, and the air hockey, roll ball, billiards, and in-app-purchase games on the bottom level. While in the arcade, you can touch an arrow to move through the 3D virtual building to the next game, then swipe to see both sides of the cabinet. The place is decked out in 80s fluorescent lights too, giving it that classic arcade feel. When you decide on a game, just click the Play button, and the game comes up full screen. Each game awards tickets for winning (both arcade and interactive games) and you can spend your tickets on 3D stuffed animals and other toys in the prize shop.

I was fortunate enough to visit a lot of arcades as a kid and some of these games happened to be my favorites. My experience playing them on the iPhone was a little frustrating, but I could see myself coming back for more later. Defender plays just how I remember, but there's no substitute for tactile buttons, and I have a feeling Defender pros will get frustrated. Joust is mostly the same with some sound effect variation from the original, but it seems a hair slower. Mostly, the standup arcade classics played pretty well (which is probably why most would buy this game), but the other interactive games were kind of boring and not very complex. Part of the problem is that there are tons of Air Hockey, Roll Ball, and Billiards games already out for the iPhone that really focus on those specific gameplay experiences. On Midway Arcade, they feel a bit more thrown together.

Overall, Midway Arcade offers up a bunch of great arcade classics that play pretty well for only 99 cents. The game has its control issues, but you have options in the settings for some flexibility. To be perfectly honest, I would probably buy Joust and Defender for 99 cents each if Midway had decided to offer them that way, but I have my whole rose-colored glasses affliction to contend with. Still, if you're fan of old arcade classics, this collection is pretty good (and cheap) with more to buy through in-app purchase if you want to continue to relive the glory days of arcade gaming.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.