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Antstream: The irrefutable PAST of all gaming


So, if you paid attention, you know I like Amazon Luna. Well, another game streaming service recently entered my sphere of awareness (Thanks again Flegma!) and I want to share my thoughts. This is the perfect companion to (or possibly replacement for) Amazon Luna. 

So, Amazon Luna is mostly relatively newer games. The downside to this approach is that old games tend to be better. I don't really even think I should use the word "old", as that is often used with negative connotations. Classic games is certainly a better term. Old like Beethoven. Or like, however old wine rich folk drink. So Antstream is all about the classic games.

There's a couple downsides. Firstly, the interface. It's a bit lunky. Like, why do I have to go to a sub-tab within my profile tab to find my favorites list? That's stupid. Second, the name. Who came up with the name "Antstream" it sounds stupid. And the logo that looks like an ant's head is stupid too.

But what's good? The games. Tons. So many that I think difficulty parsing them all is part of what makes the interface lunky. Also, the price. It's FREE. I mean, I'm not sure if there's going to be limitations on the free tier at some point. I guess they're planning to add ads. But for now, it's just free free.

It's not just the quantity of games either, it's also the quality! I mean, ok, there's a lot of games that I've never heard of, and more than a few stinkers in the batch. But some of the best games ever made are here. Burgertime. Root Beer Tapper. Dig Dug. Rally X. Bubble Bobble. If you told me when I was a kid, that as an adult I'd have access to faithful arcade versions of all the best games on my TV, no console necessary, and for FREE, I'd lose my mind. Truly, what a time to be alive.

I'm sure some of you younger folk are going to try to tell me some lie like "The Last Of Us is better than Bubble Bobble". I mean, sure, maybe the story's better, but who cares? If you want a story, go read a manga. Or watch Netflix. Or Hulu. Or Retro Crush*. Or, if you're a real masochist, read one of those stupid books without pictures in it. Games should be fun. Bubble Bobble is fun to play. That's why you play it.

You might try to tell me "The Last Of Us has better graphics!" But honestly, I disagree even on this point. I'm bringing up Bubble Bobble because it looks even better than I remember. I don't know if it's because modern TVs (even tho mine's cheap-ish), but the bright, vivid colours pop even more beautifully than I remembered. Maybe cos I played mostly on NES? But I also used to own PS1 version which I think was arcade authentic, but still this just looks so good. My eyes prefer colourful pixels of dinosaurs, bubbles, and various tasty foods over whatever it is modern games claim to offer.

You know how everyone hates micro transactions? Classic games never had those. They didn't need them. Cos they were fun. It's a weird world, games are free, but people will pay for the privilege of not having to play them as much? We didn't used to play games to unlock something. We played them because they were fun. If you liked the game, you wouldn't want to play them less.

Now I mentioned the hits. There's more than those, but those are what came to mind. But! There's not EVERY classic game you remember. But the selection is good. Do you like Q*Bert? Of course you do, Q*Bert is awesome! Sadly, there is no Q*Bert. However, there are a couple ZX Spectrum/C64 knock-offs. How about Robotron? That's another notable omission, but you know what? We got Llamatron, an awesome classic in its own right! Many other classic Jeff Minter titles appear as well

Another fun thing is there's bound to be some cool games you don't recognize. Maybe you do, I don't know how seasoned of a gamer you are, but there's some cool games I'd never heard of. Like a top-down taxi game, that appears to be a predecessor to Crazy Taxi. The fun is held back by the fact that the customers seem sparse to find, but neat to see nonetheless. Also, and maybe you Brits that grew up with the "Speccy" played this, but I certainly never before played a horse racing game that you control by playing skee-ball. Which was difficult, but a total blast! More games should have premises so pleasantly bizarre.

OK, I'm done, you now love Antstream.

*I am plugging Retro Crush. This is a free anime streaming service. Similar to Antstream, only with anime instead of games. But there's much in common. I love it. You know how anime used to be great, but now it sucks? Well, have no fear, this allows you to watch anime that isn't shitty. Altho not all classic anime is represented. If you wanna watch Ranma, go to Hulu. If you wanna watch Revolutionary Girl Utena, it's available on YouTube legitimately. "Nozomi Entertainment" I think holds the rights their YouTube channel has this and some other cool stuff.

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About Damien Quicksilverone of us since 8:25 PM on 12.22.2018

Near the beginning of the millennium, I wrote an opinion column titled "My Twenty-Five Cents" in a short lived zine titled "Classic Gamer Magazine" iirc. I used the pen name "Damien Quicksilver" at the time. I get thoughts about gaming that I feel the urge to write about from time to time, so this is something of a reprisal I suppose. If there is somehow anyone out there who remembers that zine, that would be amazing. It was made with a group of folks I met in rec.games.video.classic on Usenet. If there is somehow anyone out there who remembers what Usenet is, you're old. If you don't know what Usenet was, it was basically the cretaceous period equivalent of Reddit.