When you boot up Antstream Arcade for the first time, you instantly wonder how it’s possible for one service to include multiple games across multiple retro platforms, all in one place. From the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 to the NES and PSOne, it includes over 13,000 titles for you to play almost instantly. While the Nintendo, SEGA, and Sony titles aren’t the most familiar, it’s staggering how all these feature in one place. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some big names on here, though. Mortal Kombat, Earthworm Jim, and Star Wars are just a sprinkling of what’s on offer.
Now on Xbox, Antstream Arcade offers seamless cloud streaming for every game on offer. I didn’t encounter a single time where there was any kind of lag or buffering. You simply scroll through the menus all nicely laid out into genres, popular titles, and other easy to access lists, pick what you want to play, then boot it up. Games start straight away, and before you know it you’re transported back in time to when Sensible Soccer ruled your life. There’re games for everyone, and even if you were merely a twinkle in your parent’s eyes when they released, most still hold up today.
I was in my element when I came across titles I’d forgotten about. Pit Fighter, Street Racer, Smash TV, and MDK were just a few of these, and diving in to play them after all this time offers more than just a nostalgia kick. Sure, you can play every game in the catalogue until completion, but there’re also competitions to participate in set up by Antstream, or complete various challenges in game and share them with friends. It’s more than just Netflix but retro games. It could’ve just featured all these titles and nothing more, but there’s a sense of dedication from its creators, both preserving these games and making them worth playing in 2023.
Antstream Arcade costs £29.99 per year, or £79.99 for a lifetime subscription. While I wouldn’t call the collection niche by any means, it will be more for those who have a good memory and not particularly appealing to players who’ve never heard or played them before. For me, a near 40-year old, I had a great time with them, but even now, I’ve returned to other titles I’m playing like Starfield. It’s cool to jump in for five or ten minutes and see what they were like, but I rarely spent more than an hour on something before logging off. There will be people out there that love playing older games over newer ones, and it’s well worth checking out.
While it’s an impressive service, I struggled to get local co-op to work. I sat down with my daughter and told her how good Sensible Soccer was back in the day, and was looking forward to play with her. While multiplayer is confirmed on the game’s page on Antstream, I couldn’t for the life of me how to get it to work. She joined with a second controller, but it just took over mine, and when selecting teams we just got stuck on the menu screen. This happened across a few other games, so I’m hoping this is something either fixed or made clearer to initiate.
If you’re wanting games like Final Fantasy VII, Super Mario Bros., Streets of Rage, Tomb Raider, or Metal Gear Solid, this isn’t the service for you. Despite its lack of major titles form yesteryear, there are plenty I remembered and loved returning to. While I spent more time dipping in and out when I had a few minutes spare, the challenges and tournaments on offer give players a reason to return, and it’s commendable how Antstream has managed to put this together in one great package.