The Gratuitous Rainbow Spectrum

Flynn's Arcade Revives Authentic Arcade Action

Flynn's Arcade Revives Authentic Arcade Action

Kris Randazzo
8 minute read

Retro arcade inspired indie games are nothing new, and a lot of them are genuinely great, taking advantage of modern technology to bring more depth to the simple, arcade-style concepts of yesteryear.

But in the last year or so, a publisher has been bringing some strikingly authentic retro arcade experiences to home consoles, and their most recent release, Murtop, continues their streak.

The publisher is called Flynn’s Arcade, and I seriously can not believe Disney hasn’t sued them into oblivion for the direct Tron reference. But it’s an apt name considering the games they've brought to market would all feel right at home in the actual Flynn’s Arcade. Their games tend to be mashups of existing game concepts, and the results thus far have been spectacular.

The Bomb Bunny

First, let’s talk about their latest release, Murtop. In all honesty, the name doesn’t do this brilliant little game justice. Just seeing the name written out doesn't exactly grab attention, but holy cow is this game ever fun. Murtop is basically a cross between Dig Dug and Bomberman. As you can see from the image, the playfield is pretty darn similar to Dig Dug’s, as is the objective to eliminate all the monsters on the stage. You move around by digging through the ground, and if you can line up the shot, you can dig under boulders to drop them on the heads of your enemies.

The main difference is that the main character, a rabbit named Murti, can't inflate her enemies like Taizo from Dig Dug. Instead, she poops bombs. No really, the game literally says she poops out bombs! And you have to strategically place them to eliminate all the bad guys on the screen. The bombs explode like the bombs in Bomberman, as in they go off in a cross pattern, and also like Bomberman, bombs can hurt you too, so you have to be extra careful where you drop them.

This game is unbelievably fun because that specific strategy of laying bombs really requires a different kind of thinking. The bombs get placed one square behind you, so the first couple of times I played I kept blowing myself up because it feels counterintuitive, but it’s that nature that makes you need to stay on your toes.

The game’s developer, hiulit, really understands what made classic arcade games tick, and Murtop is an absolute blast. It’s available on Switch, Steam, and is coming soon to Atari VCS for a whopping $5.

That Dodo Really Likes Donuts

Next, we have what I believe is Flynn’s Arcade’s most successful launch yet, Donut Dodo, developed by Released in 2022, Donut Dodo’s direct game inspirations are a little harder to specifically nail down than Murtop’s. Visually it looks like a cross between Popeye and Burgertime, but there’s also a distinct Donkey Kong feel going on as well. You play as a baker who is trying to recover his donuts from a giant Dodo who keeps stealing them. The name nails the exact same “What the heck?” factor as the original Donkey Kong did, which really helped with its word of mouth. It’s also got this visual style that’s impossible to look away from. It’s a truly wonderful looking game.

Your baker character, Billy Burns, can run and jump, and that’s it. The obstacle course style levels are single screen, and the objective is simple. There’s a number of donuts spread all across the stage. Once you grab them all, a giant donut will start to glow, and once you grab that one, the stage ends. There are a few interesting wrinkles though.

Obviously, there are enemies to avoid. The titular Donut Dodo acts sort of like Donkey Kong did in the brilliant Donkey Kong for Game Boy where instead of just being at the top of the screen waiting for you to reclaim your donut, he occasionally throws stuff your way. Usually it’s him farting fire balls that can be really hard to avoid if you aren’t paying attention.

The regular stage enemies have predictable patterns, but the stage layouts make them pretty difficult to keep perfect track of. There are no cheap deaths, but like any good arcade classic sometimes deaths will be infuriating because you’ll just be so mad at yourself for not seeing them coming.

This of course accepts a toilet named Stinky who will relentlessly chase you, is too tall to jump over, and will ruin your day every time. Curse that toilet!

The other wrinkle comes for anyone trying to get a high score. A bonus timer constantly ticks down as you play, and the faster you complete a stage, the more bonus points you get. However, every time you grab a donut, another random one will begin to glow. Grabbing a glowing donut gives you extra points, so if you want the highest score possible, you’ll have to determine if it’s worth the extra time to get the glowing donut, or if you should just grab the nearest one and move on.

Donut Dodo also has some unbelievably catchy music. Each of its five stages comes with a unique tune, and they’re all excellent. The whole thing exudes an undeniable amount of energy that’s hard to put down. The game is currently available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Atari VCS for the absolute steal of $5. Plus, there’s an enhanced literal arcade version of Donut Dodo out in the world! It’s got some exclusive content and a 2-player mode, which is awesome, but sadly it’s said those features will remain exclusive and not be added to the home version. Oh well.

Ready Player One!

Finally, we have Galacticon, developed by Radin Games. This one here also came out back in 2022, and I feel like it completely slipped under the radar. I had never heard of it until I started looking into Murtop and Flynn’s Arcade more. It’s a cross between Defender and Joust, and boy is it cool.

The stage layouts and enemy patterns are similar to Joust, but you can shoot a laser that’s a dead ringer for the one in Defender. You also have to save creatures in a similar manner to Defender’s humans, but these little fellas don't exactly all get along. There are three different colored creatures to save, red, blue, and gray, and you have three pods at the bottom of the screen you can place them in safely as you rescue them. The stage ends once you fill all the pods with survivors, but you get points depending on what colors you save in which order. The red and blue dudes don’t really like one another, but it’s the gray ones you have to look out for because if you save one of them in the same pod as a red and blue, they’ll choose a side and kill the opposing color, thus costing you precious points. The creatures you save come at you randomly, so there's not always the same number of each color to save, so you have to think about where you’re placing them in order to maximize your score.

But actually, the stage doesn’t quite end once you’ve filled your pods. Once you’ve saved enough creatures, you fly to the top of the screen and have to navigate an asteroid field on your way to your mothership. While this is happening, a super catchy tune plays, and well, it’s just wonderful. It’s currently available on Nintendo Switch and Steam again for, you guessed it, $5.

Again, this game absolutely nails the feel of a real classic arcade game, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. There have been some great retro-inspired games like Whoa Dave and Killer Queen Black over the years, but very few, if any of them, have nailed the actual feel of an old arcade game like these three have. Probably because at least some of them aren’t specifically trying to do that, but still, it’s easy to look at most games and see that they were made today. These three, if I saw them in an arcade next to actual games from the 80s I wouldn’t bat an eye.

All three of these games are extremely special. I’m so glad Flynn’s Arcade exists and is helping bring this kind of gaming back into the world with such a degree of authenticity. They’ve published a handful of other games too, including Papertris, an interesting twist on Tetris, and Eternum EX, a game that takes its inspiration from the original arcade Ghosts n Goblins game, but Murtop, Donut Dodo, and Galacticon have a different something special that I thought warranted attention. If you have a love for retro arcade games, give these a go. You won’t be disappointed. 

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