Dudes and dudettes! Something totally untublar is happening down at The Galaxy Castle. Some kinda gnarly video virus has zapped its way into the computers arcade cabinet game things and making them act all bogus. Only one hero can make things rad again: Joystick Johnny! But will Johnny's mad skills be enough to save the Totally Tiny Arcade from utter destruction? Only you know for sure! Totally Tiny Arcade is a fun mega-remix of rapidfire retro arcade classics originally released by Joe Lesko's Flea Circus Games in 2007. However, it has just been released as freeware, and if you missed it the first time around (as a lot of people seemed to), this is the perfect time to jump in and prove who's king of the button-mashers!
Though there are several versions of the arcade to play through, the general goal remains the same: you must complete three rows of arcade games before time runs out, then face off against the video virus in a final showdown. Each row contains different games, and you must beat four of them to force the virus into the next row. On the first game you choose, you must beat one level, the second game will require two levels, the third game three levels, and the fourth will require fourth, including the special bonus virus level. Each row may have another unwitting arcader taking up space on the game you want to play, but you can announce that you "get next" by marking the occupied machine, though doing so requires that it must be the next game you play, by the unspoken rules of the arcade.
The games run the gamut of re-creations, parodies, facsimiles, reinterpretations, and fun new concepts. Generally, you beat each one by either destroying all enemies or filling up the progress bar at the top of the screen. You are racing the clock, however: every life you lose chips away at your timer, and once it runs out, one more mistake means game over. Each of the three arcades has a different mix of games, but whether you're chomping coins in Stoc Man, bonking heads in Clown's Revenge, or slaying dragons in Ninja 1999, you'll use the [WASD] or [arrow keys] to move, and [Spacebar]. [Ctrl], or [Enter] to fire. Finishing a game without losing a life means bonus points. Special items appear in the second and third levels of each game, and collecting five in a row without losing a life means big points. Once you've completed enough games, you'll be taken to the arcade's secret room, where you'll play the experimental prototype game that will show that digital dummy who's the bossest!
Totally Tiny Arcade manages to mix its enjoyable arcade fun with a ton of nostalgia and a punchy sense of humor, making for a nice trip to the old-school. Most of the minigames it offers should be pleasantly familiar to retro game fanatics. While more explicit instruction might have been helpful on the more obscure references (such as Astro Terrestrial, a strangely enjoyable riff on the infamous Atari 2600 ET title), none are so impenetrable as to not be master-able after a few tries. One not-so-great aspect is the occasional appearance of Johnny's girlfriend(?) who's only purpose is to "helpfully" point out aspects of the game he's playing in an annoying voice while obscuring the screen. The fact that this is the main female presence in the game makes one long for a "Joystick Jenny" option. Still, is Totally Tiny Arcade is a smart little title that makes the most of its clever premise? Fer sure!
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