Arcade Ports That Just Didn't Work Out
The video game landscape dramatically changed once home console technology caught up to, and surpassed, the beastly coin-op arcade machines. Lots of gamers have fond memories of jamming quarters into the best classic arcade games like Galaga and Gauntlet. Neighborhood arcades exploded in popularity during the '80s, even though they were often dark, dirty, and in some cases, unsafe. Console developers like Atari, Sega, and Nintendo saw huge potential in developing arcade ports, and despite the limitations of home hardware, decided to take up the challenge.
Early days of the Atari 2600 saw some fantastic console versions of Atari arcade classics, such as Berzerk! and Ms. Pac Man. Sega's legendary Space Harrier looked and played great on the 8-bit Master System. Taito's Bubble Bobble and Capcom's Contra were faithfully added to the list of all NES games, and are considered two of the greatest games of their era. Tekken 3 squeezed every ounce of 3D power out of the PSX, and Street Fighter: Alpha 2 was a nearly perfect translation on the Sega Saturn.
However, not all of the arcade video game ports looked and played as well as those classics, and some were absolute garbage on home consoles. Compiled below is a list of the biggest failures - vote up the coin-op arcade ports that bring back horrifying memories.
Pac-Man was a cultural touchstone in the '80s and its popularity in arcades almost guaranteed Atari a huge hit when they decided to port it to the 2600. A shortened development schedule dashed those dreams when this nearly unrecognizable version of the Namco classic hit the market in 1982.
The maze itself was stretched out of proportion, with the secret tunnels placed along the top and bottom of the screen instead of at the sides. All of that might have been tolerable if you could see each and every ghost on the screen at the same time, which you couldn't. Yet Atari still chose to release it in this deplorably unplayable condition.
Mortal Kombat wasn't a very good fighting game, but it was bloody and allowed players to dismember their opponents. The fighting engine was almost non-existent, but it had somewhat real-looking players players and a visceral uppercut that felt good every single time you landed it.
The Genesis version didn't come with the blood and gore turned on by default, but a simple code entered at the title screen (A, B, A, C, A, B, B) activated it. Too bad the SNES version didn't have any blood at all - it was replaced by sweat and they threw out the signature fatalities altogether. Talk about disappointing.
Donkey Kong, like Pac-Man, is one of the all-time arcade greats. And Donkey Kong, like Pac-Man, got an absolute turd of a port on the Atari 2600. Coleco ported a great version of the game for their newfangled ColecoVision, and then developed this unmitigated disaster for the competing Atari console. The barrels looked like Ritz crackers, Donkey Kong looked like Jabba the Hutt, and the hammer looked like a miniature version of the Cross.
The original Dragon's Lair was groundbreaking for its use of the LaserDisc format and for featuring an interactive cartoon illustrated by the legendary Don Bluth. Ultimately, it wasn't much more than a series of button-and-joystick command QTEs, but no one had seen anything like it ever before.
The NES port didn't play like, or even resemble, the arcade version whatsoever. The hardware and software limitations of the console meant that the innovative animated arcade adventure was translated into a slow and lifeless side-scrolling platformer.
NES fans love Karate Champ and wax nostalgic about this terribly clunky fighting game. Those people have most likely never experienced the original arcade version, which looked and played great, utilizing a unique two-joystick control scheme that rewarded patience and strategy over button mashing.
The NES version had fat sprites that were disproportionate and missing way too many frames of animation. The hit detection was horrendous - you could score points on a jump kick that didn't strike anywhere near your opponent. In addition, the AI was so terrible, it was kind of funny. The attempted port was admirable, but Data East just couldn't translate the spirit of Karate Champ to the weaker home console market properly.
Popeye, America's favorite aggro-vegan sailor, had an odd popularity resurgence in the '80s. With it came a dark and surreal live-action film (starring Robin Williams, of course), and a sweet arcade machine by Nintendo. The arcade version of Popeye had beautifully-drawn sprites in bold colors that popped and a punch button used to attack Bluto and the Sea Hag while attempting to save Olive Oyl.
Nintendo did an admirable job of porting Popeye to the NES, but the version they developed for the Odyssey 2 didn't even resemble the original game. The enemy green blob is either Bluto or some kind of spinach-based lifeform, and there are flying division symbols on the margins of the screen. This might even be a fishing game - no one can tell.