Retro gamers might prefer the more prestigious table option when it comes to reliving past greats, but a far more manageable (not to mention portable) alternative already exists in the shape of the "Classics" arcade sticks. Atari has one, featuring the likes of Asteroids, Missile Command, Centipede, Breakout, Pong and more, as does Namco, whose 5-in-1 bundle is made up of Pac-Man, Bosconian, Dig Dug, Rally X and Galaxian. They're remarkably simple little gadgets, too - effectively joysticks, except with a bulkier base housing the on/off button, all the techno gubbins and the various cable outputs.
Of course, if that doesn't take your fancy, now we also have things like Midway Arcade Treasures, a PS2/Xbox compendium of 20 classic arcade games that incorporates just about everything else - Spyhunter, Defender, Gauntlet, Joust, Paperboy, Marble Madness, Robotron 2084, Smash TV, Sinistar, etc - along with various DVD style extras for around the same price. Beyond that, retro gamers can always just download MAME and hunt around on the Internet...
Getting back to the arcade sticks though, it seems safe to say that everyone has a soft spot for joysticks, and many of these classic games more or less relied on one. Moving forward in time though, you can't really expect to play something like Sonic the Hedgehog exclusively using a joystick - and that's why Radica's me-too Arcade Legends series instead moulds the delicate gaming gubbins into the handheld gamepad shape we're more familiar with these days.
The first of Radica's two offerings, both due out by the end of the year, will probably attract the most attention as it reunites gamers with a selection of seven 16-bit Sega titles - headed up by Sonic the Hedgehog. For $29.99, it costs about the same as hunting down a Mega Drive second hand, and although some might find the latter more rewarding, the convenience (not to mention size) has to be a key factor for anybody who ever has to explain their purchases to a girlfriend or wife. "That dear? It's just an old Mega Drive controller. Two quid from any charity shop. Look at it if you don't believe me!"
Also from Radica comes the Arcade Legends Space Invaders variant, which dispenses with the Mega Drive pad design opting for something more generic (presumably to stave off additional licensing costs), but does manage to bundle four other Taito games into the bargain besides the eponymous Space Invaders - Phoenix, Lunar Rescue, Colony 7 and Qix. The Space Invaders unit should retail for $24.99 when it launches in the USA.
Although we've heard very little of a possible European launch for Radica's new Arcade Legends titles, we'd be very surprised - given the amount of Radica peripherals stacked at any retailer in the country, not to mention the popularity of the Atari and Namco joysticks - if it didn't do something here shortly after the US launch.