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Review: Antstream Arcade

Updated: Feb 4

Platform reviewed: Xbox Series X/S

Also on: PC

Price: Subscription service

As a child of the 80s, one of my favorite places to go in the whole world was my local arcade, Aladdin’s Castle. Situated right outside the food court at Chicago Ridge Mall, there was just something special about going into the arcade and hearing the sounds of hundreds of video games all battling for my attention (and quarters). There was nothing quite like it, and to use a tired cliché, if you know, you know. And, like every gamer kid who spent a good deal of time in this haven, I wished that one day I would have an arcade cabinet to call my own. Well, while Antstream Arcade isn’t the same as having my own cabinet, the sheer wealth of games kind of makes me feel like I have my own Aladdin’s Castle.

This is going to be a rather different style of review. Normally over here on GamerHeads, when we provide a review for a game, we give a full breakdown of the graphics, sound, story, etc. Well, in this situation, there is no story. Graphics and sound are nothing special. Gameplay is pretty basic. However, despite all this, we have a “game” that offers countless hours of fun, challenges, and a twist on your typical retro game.

The Antstream Arcade system is pretty straightforward. For the subscription price of $29.99 per year (or $79.99 for a lifetime sub), you gain access to a collection of over 1,300 classic video games. You can play any game you want, at any time, through the cloud. Now, before I give my thoughts on if Antstream Arcade is worth your time and money, I want to give a breakdown of what you get. I’m not going to list every single game available, so I’ll just call out my personal favorites. So here we go!

With Antstream Arcade, you get access to games from the following systems:

- Amiga

- Amstrad

- Arcade

- Atari 8-Bit / 2600 / 5200 / 7800

- Commodore 64


- Game Boy

- Atari Lynx

- Sega Genesis

- MSX & MSX 2

- Nintendo Entertainment Ssytem

- Super Nintendo

- PlayStation 1

- ZX Spectrum

Whew – that’s a lot! Granted, quite a few of these systems didn’t hit US shores, so I’m not very familiar with them. That being said, it will be quite the history lesson to go through and see some of these titles. But what good are having so many systems if there’s no games to play, right? Well, Antstream has you covered here too! Here’s a link to the full breakdown of games available on the platform:

Some quality games on here, too. Some of my favorites include Mortal Kombat, Smash TV, Galaga, Spy Hunter, Pac Man, Haunted House, Tapper, and Clay Fighter. There’s a lot more to list, but you can see them all for yourself. Oh, and three Metal Slug games. Man, I love me some Metal Slug. There’s also a collection of indie games, so you can get access to some newer titles as well.

Playing the games is pretty easy – you just select the game and the system loads up the rom. While it loads, you are treated to a screen that tells you how the controls work. The games look, play and sound just like they would in the arcade, which is nice because they are not stored on your system. Yes – you will be playing these claims via the dreaded cloud. I am not a fan of playing games this way, as I am a strong proponent for physical media (and digital download if physical doesn’t exist). So I was very apprehensive to try playing games this way.

And to that point, I can happily say that it works. I had no input lag (which is especially important when playing fighting games). Games loaded quickly and didn’t crash. The only snag I hit was that some of the games were a bit blurry when you started them up, but that only lasted a few seconds before everything snapped into place and it was clear. So if that’s the only complaint I have regarding how Antstream works, then that’s a good thing.

Antstream could work as just a virtual arcade, but the developers didn’t leave it at that. Aside from being able to play the games, you can compete in tournaments, tackle challenges, and even send your high score to a friend to initiate a duel. Every day when you log in, you earn gems. You can use these gems to buy into high score tournaments, which, depending on your ranking, can earn you thousands more gems. You can also spend gems to challenge your friends to see who can get the higher score in a particular game.

Each game also has its own set of challenges. For example, can you start a fight in Mortal Kombat down 0-1 and come back to win? Or, how long can you survive in BurgerTime without any pepper spray? The challenges themselves aren’t bad, and do have a decent amount of variety. I would have liked to seen some different options, though. It seems like a good majority of the games have the “how far can you get in one life” challenge. This isn’t a dealbreaker, though.

You also have the ability to save the game you’re playing, so if you have to step out for a bit, you can just choose the Save State and you can pick up wherever you left off. This is especially useful when you’re playing longer-lasting games such as Earthworm Jim or MDK, and a welcome feature.

Your personal enjoyment of Antstream Arcade is fully dependent on if you like the games that are included. There’s a lot missing that I would love to see: the Activision Atari 2600 games, the Konami trinity of The Simpsons, TMNT, and X-Men, and hell – even some classic Intellivision games would be nice. Online multiplayer would have been a neat feature, too – but what we’re given is much appreciated.

Final Grade: A-

Antstream Arcade is a great way to access a cornucopia of classic video games for a very reasonable price. New games are regularly brought in, so there’s never a dull day. If you are a fan of retro gaming, and want to both relive your arcade experience and try some new titles, I wholeheartedly recommend Anstream Arcade.



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