Antstream Arcade Is One Of The Best Ways To Enjoy Retro Video Games
The streaming service is bringing retro games to you in a new way
Getting your hands on retro games is a tall task these days. The market has inflated exponentially over the last decade, and the “value” of many of these physical titles (especially cartridges) is out of reach for many. Antstream Arcade is stepping in to give you some reasonable options and help gamers arrive at a place reminiscent of the 80s and 90s arcade and couch co-op days.
I got my hands on one of the latest updates from Anstream, playing it on my Xbox Series S. I spent hours and hours ripping through retro game classics from yesteryear, giving the online service a solid test run over a few weeks.
Whether I entered myself into one of the several ongoing competitions, or playing a solo game of Double Dragonor Earthworm Jim, the game’s felt responsive and loaded quickly.
What Is Anstream Arcade?
Essentially, Antstream Arcade is an online retro game streaming service. Right now, it has over 1300 different games. It’s an impressively diverse lineup from the Amiga, Atari consoles, DOS, Gameboy, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, arcade titles, and more.
Each one of these games is available to players who download the app on their device. My experience was on the Xbox Series S, with a similar streamlined process on my mobile device.
Booting up the app, you’re welcomed with a massive list of games you can access with a simple button. This is where the pricing structure and the competitive elements come into play.
The Set Up & Pricing Structure
Antstream Arcade can be downloaded for free but requires a subscription or one-time payment to access its features. At first glance, it’s easy to see this as “just another streaming service bill” to add to your credit card, but I think there’s more than enough here to dig into, and there is some significant value.
For $29.99 CDN, you can jump in and enjoy the long list of titles for a year. For $79.99 CDN, you can have a Lifetime Pass Edition and keep the retro gaming going beyond 12 months. Regardless of your choice, these are fantastic deals compared to owning these games individually or in other gaming bundles.
I love retro games and any opportunity to go back to my childhood; Antstream makes that nearly seamless.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’re also awarded some in-service points that you can use to compete in various events. It’s similar to having quarters on hand at the arcade. You shell out a few “bucks” and try to match or beat a high score or add to global totals to topple a “Boss.” There are also leaderboards where you can see how others are doing worldwide and how you stack up with your friends on Anstream.
I found this an exciting way of approaching what could be seen as in-game currency. Thankfully, in my time with it, I never felt pressured or like I was being forced to use this currency to enjoy myself. The sense of competition is there, though, and for anyone who wants to get that feeling back, now’s your chance.
Playing The Games
Anstream’s website says it has the best games from the 80’s and 90’s. While that may vary from player to player, there’s no question that the lineup is relatively diverse and has some heavy hitters. Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Mortal Kombat, and Metal Slug are just a few more recognizable games. But then there are even more hidden gems and potentially unknown titles waiting for you to explore.
When you choose a game, it immediately takes you to a screen showing you the controls, save states, and if it’s linked to any potential competitions or high scores. I found this to be a welcome surprise. Without a physical (or digital) manual in front of me, seeing the button layouts translated to my Xbox helped. I didn’t have to experiment; I could jump in.
In my experience on the Xbox, I had almost no issue streaming on Antstream Arcade. With most of these games coming from the 8-bit and 16-bit era, getting these running online is much easier than beefy titles like Starfield. Whether I entered one of the several ongoing competitions or played a solo game of Double Dragonor Earthworm Jim, the games felt responsive and loaded quickly.
While I recommend the service, if you’re uncertain about Antstream, I recommend looking at their game list. There are quite a few I had no interest in or, quite frankly, hadn’t heard of, but spending some time experimenting with these titles went a long way toward my overall enjoyment of the service.
The team is also excellently communicating with their players and updating them on the Anstream Arcade blog and social media.
It all comes together in a pretty well-rounded and fun experience. To be honest, it surprised me. I love retro games and any opportunity to return to my childhood; thankfully, a service like Antstream makes that pretty seamless. It’s an expensive and sometimes exhausting venture to keep up with the world of obtaining retro games, and it can be nice to take advantage of new ideas and approaches like this.