"Arcade-perfect" is a term that was bandied about in the '80s and '90s as developers struggled to port state-of-the-art arcade games to significantly less powerful console hardware. Compromises were made, features were removed, and many ports that were billed as "arcade-perfect" still needed to be scaled back quite a bit compared to their cabinet counterparts.
These days, consoles boast enough horsepower to emulate classic games at a software level - virtually recreating arcade hardware in order to run original programming code, rather than porting graphics, sound, and gameplay components from scratch. Purists argue, however, that straightforward emulation lacks a certain appeal specific to original hardware. Playing the classic racer Daytona USA
using an Xbox 360 controller, for instance, is a vastly different experience compared to sitting in the cockpit of the original arcade cabinet and gripping a force feedback-equipped steering wheel that fights you at every turn.
Arcade-perfect ports still elude many publishers. Japanese porting studio M2, however, sets its sights higher than mere perfection.
M2's 3D After Burner 2
, released in the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America this week
, is more than an arcade-perfect port. Not only does it make great strides toward simulating the look and feel of a classic arcade game, but it also improves on the game's original design in ways that its creators planned but never fully achieved. The result is perhaps the first "complete" look at After Burner 2
as it was originally envisioned, and it's a rare treat for classic gaming enthusiasts.