• Graeme Mason

The Hidden Gems Of Antstream Arcade

Updated: Mar 27

There are currently hundreds of classic retro games on the Antstream Arcade, and with this sheer wealth of gaming delight on offer, it’s easy to miss the odd glinting jewel. Having covered the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Sony PlayStation on previous episodes of the Hidden Gem series, we thought it was about time we revealed some of those lesser-known, but just as awesome, games that may have slipped past you on Antstream Arcade.



Anarchy

Hewson, 1987

Anarchy was originally released on Hewson’s budget label, Rack-It, retailing for a pocket money-friendly £2.99 back in 1987. Those who took the risk on this low-price game were rewarded with a tale of rebellious, um, rebels, who have taken over the planet Sentinel 4, resulting in the atmosphere of eponymous disarray. Over to you, skipper – hop aboard your ACE mark 2 Interceptor tank and destroy the enemy weapons and supplies while avoiding the deadly guard robots. Anarchy is a charming and engaging combination of shoot-‘em-up and puzzler, that upon release drew comparison with games such as the legendary Boulderdash and Tank Battalion. Smash those rebels right now, on Antstream Arcade!


Dark Seal

Data East, 1990

Dark Seal is one of the many Data East classics available on Antstream Arcade. Taking its cue from archetypal dungeon crawlers such as Gauntlet, in this isometric hack ‘n’ slash game the player can choose from one of four different characters, knight, bard, ninja or wizard, each with their own fighting style and unique ability. The evil Volov and his adjutant, the Black Knight, are causing all manner of chaos across the realm of Etrulia. Either solo, or with a friend, it’s up to you to smash the multitude of beasties that stand in your way, and bring peace to the world. Dark Seal is a real treat, especially for fans of Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy gaming in general.


Gateway To Apshai

Epyx, 1983

This Commodore 64 game is living proof on the Antstream Arcade that the action RPG genre has been alive and well since the early Eighties. While aesthetically simple, the depth and atmosphere generated by Gateway To Apshai and its sequels (also on Antstream Arcade) make it a true classic worth investigating today, even if you’re initially unimpressed by its rudimentary graphics. Build your character, arm them to the teeth and venture forth into the damp and deadly dungeon – treasure, danger and glory awaits you!


Jumping Cross

SNK, 1984

Here at Antstream Arcade, we love arcade gaming, and this is one of our favourite of the more obscurer coin-ops on offer on the service. Released the same year as the first entry in Nintendo’s famous Excitebike series, Jumping Cross is a colourful and affable motocross game that eschews realism for pure fun. Around each circuit lay countless obstacles and opposing bikers, and you’re up against a strict time limit in order to qualify for the next race. Fortunately, your bike has a sprightly jump which can be used to knock rivals off their rides and nimbly straddle over hills, gullies and… pigs?!




Mallet Legend

Realtec, 1993

Everybody loves whack-a-mole, right? Inside most arcades sits a variation of these stress-busting machines where the poor creatures pop their heads up randomly, only to be thumped by a padded mallet. Mallet Legend is the digitized version of the popular game and as such, sports a plot and reason for all this clubbing mayhem. Naughty critters have kidnapped the princess and there’s only one thing for it – take up that cudgel and whack ‘em, although watch out for the princess and her beloved pet, who will occasionally surface to make sure you’re doing your best.


Prison

Krisalis, 1989

Those of you who enjoy an atmospheric and attractive arcade adventure will be in your element with Krisalis’ Prison, another great retro game, streamable on the Commodore Amiga via Antstream Arcade. Playing a wrongly-convicted prisoner, there are plenty of puzzles and logical conundrums to solve, as well as tons of action to keep you entertained. Mutated aliens and more stand in this jailbird’s way, as the player attempts to gather the eight parts of a space shuttle that can help you escape this toxic dump of a planet. Prison is notable for being one of the first video games to introduce a day-night cycle, and its grim gameplay and backgrounds will appear familiar to fans of movies such as Escape From New York and Fortress.


Reckless Rufus

Alternative, 1992

Rufus is a bit of a doofus. Having stowed away aboard a vast mining ship, our hero pushed his luck too far and has been caught stealing from an android. Taken to a nearby desolate planet infested with aliens, Rufus is commanded to harvest as many crystals as he can in order to obtain his freedom, and possibly a trip back to Earth. Each level in Reckless Rufus is a deviously-plotted trap. Blocks with numbers reveal how many steps Rufus can make before plummeting to his doom; only by carefully noting the numbers and planning ahead can he collect all the valuable crystals and earn his passage home. Reckless Rufus is an absorbing puzzle game that proved, even in 1992, that there was still life in the 8-bit computers.


Tilt

Codemasters, 1990

This Codies budget game is an excellent example of how the most humble of concepts can sometimes make the most addictive of experiences, and if you recall those tortuous ball and maze games from the Eighties, you’ll have an idea of what Tilt is about. The player effectively controls the play area, tilting it to allow the small ball to drop towards the exit hole without touching any of the maze’s wall. Tricky, convoluted and supremely frustrating – in a good way! – Tilt is a fantastic little Commodore 64 game that you should definitely incline towards on Antstream Arcade.


Note from the AntTeam: Tilt is actually the first game ever played on the Antstream Arcade live servers as it is a cult favourite here at Antstream HQ. We're just waiting for the team to make some challenges for it now!


Search And Rescue

SNK, 1989

The final game in this round-up is another exciting SNK arcade release, sometimes abbreviated to SAR, and featuring an artistic style that will appear mightily familiar to fans of horror sci-fi such as the Alien series. The gameplay will also feel evocative of SNK’s more well-known hit, Ikari Warriors, with the undead, mutants and aliens replacing the soldiers of that run ‘n’ gun classic. With extra weapons available, there’s plenty of scope for mass destruction on offer in Search And Rescue as the player or players search through a cavernous exploration vessel in order to discover the fate of its crew. For those after a stand up fight AND a bug hunt, this is the game for you!


Check out all these hidden gems and more on the Antstream Arcade!