Image Via Anstream Arcade

Antstream Arcade Xbox Review – Ouch, Right In The Backlog

Antstream Arcade lets you stream over 1300 games to your Xbox systems, so long as your Internet can handle it.

The past few years have seen large companies entering the streaming gaming arena, with Google, Nvidia, Amazon, Sony, and Microsoft letting you stream brand-new games over the Internet. Antstream Arcade is a streaming service for retro games, and it has brought thousands of older titles to Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, making for one of the best deals in gaming, so long as you’re able to deal with the usual struggles that face streaming games. 

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Antstream Arcade is an app available on several devices, such as PC, Mac, Linux, Android, Android TV, Firestick, and Samsung TV. After a small install, you only need to pay a monthly, yearly, or lifetime fee to sign-up. Once you’re subscribed, you gain instant access to over 1300 retro video games from different systems, including the Amiga, Amstrad, C64, MSX, NES, SNES, Sony PlayStation, and Arcade. All you need is a controller, as this can also mimic a mouse for any compatible games, with the ability to access a virtual keyboard by pressing R3. 

Key Details

  • Developer – Antstream Ltd.
  • Platforms – Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Android, iOS, Firestick, Samsung TV, Linux, Atari VCS, and Nvidia Shield.
  • Release Date – Available Now
  • Price – Free tier, $29.99 annual, $79.99 lifetime.

Antstream Arcade Is Xbox’s Biggest Content Influx Since Game Pass

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The number of games on display in Antstream Arcade is something to behold. When you boot it up, you’ll find page upon page of titles from different genres. It helps that companies like SNK, Team 17, and LucasArts are involved, as they have brought some of their best to the service. The classics on the system include titles from Fatal Fury, Metal Slug, Monkey Island, Cannon Fodder, Mortal Kombat, R-Type, and Worms. There are games to satisfy your hunger for a specific experience, be it a fast-paced shooter or an in-depth RPG experience. 

It’s important to note that while games from Nintendo, Sega, and Sony consoles are present on Antstream Arcade, the full list is composed primarily of third-party titles. Don’t expect to see Mario or Sonic here. The library of PS1 titles is also incredibly small at this moment in time, with only two games available on Antstream Arcade: 40 Winks and Loaded. 

One great aspect of Antstream Arcade that UK and European fans will appreciate is the presence of systems that rarely get retro rereleases, like the Amiga and ZX Spectrum. These systems have received retro consoles over the past few years, but their libraries aren’t readily available to modern gamers outside of emulation. This is no longer the case, as Antstream Arcade has some of the best tiles from both systems on its roster, like Sensible Soccer, Speedball 2, Wizkid, and the Dizzy series. 

Antstream Arcade Faces The Usual Streaming Service Issues

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You might think that streaming a retro game from thirty years ago will be much less stressful than what Google Stadia (RIP) had to do, as that had to carry the burden of streaming games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as you still need a fast and stable Internet speed to run Antstream Arcade. This is a mileage may-vary situation, but if you’re relying on a wireless dongle, you might not get satisfactory performance from the service.

As with the other streaming services, this affects certain genres more than others. Fighting games are chief among these, with the ever-so-slight input lag of a streaming game being way more noticeable in something like Mortal Kombat than in other titles. This can seriously mess up your response time and be deadly when playing the brutal arcade fighting games of the past. 

Antstream Arcade’s UI Needs An Update

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Antstream Arcade might have a massive roster of games, but it’s not always easy to find them. The app’s front page breaks down the top games and a handful of genres, while you can use the Search function to look for specific games/consoles. Surprisingly, there isn’t a master list of games you can check for every title on the platform, nor a simple set of tabs that let you choose a console or genre without needing to search for them. Instead, you’ll have to resort to checking the Anstream Arcade site for a full list.

The other thing that Antstream Arcade could use is a parental filter for violence and nudity, as there could be parents who want to share the games from their youth with their kids. The vast majority of the titles on Antstream Arcade should be fine for youngsters. Still, a few games have some very spicy art in their cover images (like Barbarian and Astaroth – Angel of Death), some games feature blood and violence (like Splatterhouse), while some outright feature nudity, like (Insects in Space.)

It bears mentioning that the code we were given for the Xbox Series X/S version of Antstream Arcade is for a preview build of the game, and some of these changes may be addressed at launch. 

Antstream Arcade’s Challenges Are NES Remix Reborn

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Antstream Arcade has local couch multiplayer if you have enough controllers, but there is no online multiplayer component. There is, however, a variety of rotating challenges, where players are given tasks to complete in games and compete against everyone else. These remind me of the challenges in NES Remix on the Wii U, where players were given little tasks to complete in established titles, and they’re one of the best parts of the service.

The little bite-sized pieces of different arcade games that push you to step up and beat some of their difficult challenges are a fantastic part of Antstream Arcade, as it encourages you to try out games you might have otherwise ignored. There are also prompts that tell you the score/time you need to beat, helping to push you forward and have you swearing at the screen if you fall just short. These Challenges might be the best example of the fast-paced arcade action that Antstream Arcade offers.

The Verdict

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As with any streaming gaming service, you need a decent/stable Internet speed before you consider trying out Antstream Arcade. If you can, then there is an absolute ton of content here for retro gaming fans, with a library that’s growing bigger over time. The interface is still rough, and the app could use some features, like online multiplayer or an adult content filter, but what’s here is functional. It won’t be long before you can dive into some of the best games of yesteryear without needing to endure loading and install times. 

Final Score:

8/ 10

+ Ridiculous amount of content for its price, with lots of classic titles included in its library.
+ Challenges keep you coming back & trying out new games.
+ Often overlooked systems like the Amiga & ZX Spectrum are given retro love.
Usual streaming game issues, especially with fighting games.
Needs a better menu system that lets you search the entire library simultaneously. 
Needs a filter for more adult cover art & games.

Gamepur team received an Xbox code for the purpose of this review.


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Author
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Scott Baird
Scott has been writing for Gamepur since 2023, having been a former contributor to websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, Screen Rant, The Gamer, and TopTenz. A graduate of Edge Hill University in the UK, Scott started as a film student before moving into journalism. Scott covers Dungeons & Dragons, Final Fantasy, Pokémon, and MTG. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.