Rampage and Tapper Come to the iPad, and Suddenly Life is Complete

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Harry McCracken/

What’s my favorite arcade game of all time? That’s easy. It’s Atari’s Tempest, and I was therefore thrilled when it became available for the iPad and iPhone, along with scads of other vintage games, as part of Atari’s Greatest Hits. But my second and third most beloved arcade machines may well have been two non-Atari gems: Rampage and Tapper. And now they’re both available, along with a bunch of other titles, as part of Midway Arcade for the iPad and iPhone.

Midway is one of the all-time great names in arcade games, but the classics in Midway Arcade aren’t all Midway classics. And Space Invaders, perhaps the most famous Midway game of them all, isn’t here, although it is available in an iPhone edition from its Japanese creator, Taito. Besides Tapper and Rampage, there are a bunch of important and semi-important games, including Defender and Joust (originally Williams games), Gauntlet 1 and Gauntlet 2 (formerly from Atari), Wizard of Wor and more. You also get some electronic recreations of non-electronic games: air hockey, pool, basketball and roll ball (better known as skee ball, and complete with tickets and prizes).

Tapper is presented as Root Beer Tapper–a more minor-friendly variant from the 1980s that replaced the alcoholic beverages with soft drinks and stripped out the Budweiser branding. (There’s also a separate version of Tapper available for iOS, but it’s a modernized remake, not a literal conversion.)

As for Rampage, it’s much as I remember it, except that the best part of the arcade version was when you joined forces with two other players to collaborate as the game’s giant gorilla, lizard, and wolfman antiheroes, destroying the city and eating helpless humans as a team. In iOS, it’s a one-player game. (Midway Arcade supports Game Center achievements, but sadly doesn’t let you play with distant friends across the Net.)

The recreations of all these decades-old games are pretty good from a visual and audio standpoint. As usual, though, bringing the satisfying solidity of the joysticks and buttons of bygone days to touchscreen devices is impossible. Using the virtual on-screen controls, I felt like I was playing with mittens on. But I assume it’ll get easier with time. And if there isn’t a version that supports the iCade at some point, it’ll be kind of tragic.

Midway Arcade is from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (a distant corporate cousin of TIME) and is a reasonable ninety-nine cents. Six of the 16 games, including Gauntlets 1 and 2 and Wizard of Wor, are sold in two three-title add-on packs, also 99 cents apiece.