According to GameTap's welcome email, their service offers access to an ever-expanding library of hundreds of the greatest games ever played in arcades, on console game systems, and computers. So far, I've found that their claims are true. However, I'll be anxiously waiting (with my credit card in hand) to see if Ted Turner's new venture will end the unprecedented service it aspires to be.
Just The Facts
GameTap is an PC application that allows gamers to play tons of mostly "old school" games on their PC. In concept, GameTap reminds me of the Mame 32 arcade emulator. The major differences are: GameTap is legal, costs $14.95 a month, boasts PC Windows/DOS games, and also represents a number of retro home console titles. According to a Reuters release published this morning, GameTap plans on expanding its catalog to more than 1,000 games!
The different games systems you can play on GameTap include: the Atari 2600, Windows, DOS, Sega Master System, Sega 32X, Arcade, Sega Dreamcast, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, and Intellivision.
GameTap has three areas in its interface that make it so. First, MyGame Tap allows users to set preferences and change account information. Next there's Game Vault; that's where all action goes down. I imagine that most gamers will run through the gates directly to the Game Vault and get busy! Finally, GameTap hosts a broadband entertainment network they call MediaPlex, which features video features, shows, game tips, and more.
The Truth According to Mumra
GameTap has hundreds of titles on multiple systems available for quick download and play. Just peeking through the Genesis games alone made me shiver with excitement. It's interesting to note that GameTap appears to be a Sega and 2600 top-heavy service. However, as long as you dig retro games and systems, you're bound to find titles you'll have a blast with.
At least at this point, one aspect that was noticeably absent from GameTap's lineup were Nintendo titles. Currently, GameTap doesn't include any selections from the NES or SNES era (Editor's Note: Word on the street says we can look forward to Saturn games in the near future.) Current-gen and other selections from the 32 and 128-bit era also have limited presence. For instance, GameTap's Dreamcast current titles consist of only Hydro Thunder and Mr. Driller. Yeah, that's not exactly Shenmue.
One very important highlight I should mention: some of the Windows games can take a long time to download. For example, I was surprised to find the game I did Level Design work for was included in their service. Heroes of Might and Magic 4 (HOMM4) took 1 hour to download on a 54mbps Yahoo DSL Line. Of course, the positives were that during download I was able to play Chopper Command and Snafu. Also, after I downloaded HOMM4, I didn't have to download it again. This brings up an important point about the GameTap service; you better have lots of space on your hard drive for this bad boy!
- Massive number of cool retro games, which is supposed to grow to over 1,000 titles strong
- Easy and convenient access to games
- Easy to use interface
- Two weeks free trial period
- Not all popular gaming systems represented
- Currently a limited number of PC publishers (most hail from Ubisoft, Sierra, and Take-Two)
- Relatively high monthly price
- Unpredictable future growth of publisher and game database
- Does not currently support multi-player gaming over the Internet
Game Systems at Launch
Windows (53 games)
Genesis (45 games)
2600 (76 games)
Arcade (58 games)
Master System (12 games)
32X (5 games)
Intellivision (8 games)
Game Gear (7 games)
DOS (10 games)
Commodore 64 (24 games)
Pentium IV or AMD Athlon 800MHz or better
5GB available storage (for application)
Video Card: 3D-capable video card with 32MB VRAM or greater
DirectX 8X and OpenGL 1.1