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Midway Arcade Treasures

Review By:  Greg Lynch

Developer:  Midway
Publisher:  Midway
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Compilation
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  Yes (Leaderboards)
Accessories:  N/A
Date Posted: 

3-9-04

In the gaming world, nothing seems to sell quite as well as nostalgia. One need only look at how much people are charging for classic games on Ebay to know there’s a huge amount of money to be made. Everyone wants to remember those days of hanging out at the roller skating rink and playing Donkey Kong, right?

It didn’t take long for software companies to catch on to this concept and start releasing all those retro memories on modern consoles. However, while those games bring back old memories for many of us, we tend to forget they typically aren’t as fun as our trip down memory lane leads us to believe. A quick play of many classics reveal that, despite all those fond memories of the golden age of videogames, we’ve started to expect more from our games.

Enter Midway Arcade Treasures, a huge collection of games spanning the entire length of what many consider to be the classic era of gaming, and it is perhaps the best example of how some classics never grow old. From the earlier games such as Joust, to the later releases like Smash T.V., this is arguably the best collection of games assembled into one package. The list of those included practically reads like a “Best Of” from the 80’s:

  • 720°

  • Blaster

  • Bubbles

  • Defender

  • Defender II

  • Gauntlet

  • Joust

  • Joust 2

  • Klax

  • Marble Madness

  • Paperboy

  • Rampage

  • Rampart

  • RoadBlasters

  • Robotron 2084

  • Root Beer Tapper

  • Satan's Hollow

  • Smash TV

  • Sinistar

  • Splat!

  • Spy Hunter

  • Super Sprint

  • Toobin'

  • Vindicators

While Xbox owners are treated to perfect emulation on each title (the PlayStation 2 version features a hint of slowdown in the more modern games, such as Smash TV), the controls are another matter. Anyone who played the games in their original form will remember some of the titles using special controllers that were all but mandatory for smooth gameplay. Super Sprint and Spy Hunter used a steering wheel and accelerator, Marble Madness used a trackball to simulate rolling the marble, and 720° had a joystick locked into a circular-only motion, just to name a few. The same innovation used by Midway to set their games apart from everyone else ends up hurting a few titles in this collection.

Most control issues just take some minor adjusting, or the acceptance that you might not do as well in a game as you did in the old days. Playing games like Toobin’ requires an adjustment period, as does Vindicators. Rampart is the only real exception, taking a huge hit in fun because of a horribly unresponsive controller. Originally played using a trackball, the joystick and buttons are just no substitute. When rebuilding your castle walls, the Tetris-like piece will either not move, or move twice as many spaces than you wanted it to, which can become really frustrating when you have only a few precious seconds to completely surround your castle. You’ll likely lose more games to this fault than any lack of skill. It’s a shame, since the game is arguably one of the best on the package, and the problem could easily have been avoided by utilizing analog controls over digital.

Several bonuses are included, but feel as though they were thrown in. In fact, the movies are nothing more than ported over from the Playstation versions of other Midway compilations, grainy video and all. Other options include Trivia, Galleries, and History, and probably will only be of interest to old school gamers or collectors. Regardless, not all games include those options, and finding the ones that do can take some patience thanks to bizarre menu screens and having to go through each game option independently looking for them. It was a nice gesture on behalf of Midway, but could just as easily have been left out with little consequence.

What really separates the Xbox version from all others is the inclusion of Live leaderboards, and the enormous impact it makes on the game’s longevity. While the games stand great on their own and besting your own high score is a lot of fun, nothing compares to trying to topple other player’s high scores. It adds a feeling of competition to the game that actually keeps drawing you in with the desire to reach that number one spot. Fortunately, while the game has numerous options for lives, continues, and skill levels, to post on the leader board you must choose the leaderboard settings so everyone is on the same playing field.

Highs:

  • Online leaderboards
  • Perfect emulation
  • 20 (!) classic games

Lows:

  • Poor control in a few games

Final Verdict: 

Despite a few of the title’s shortcomings, this collection is far and away the best compilation I’ve ever spent time with. Between the perfectly emulated games and the addition of Live functionality, it elevates itself above the competition by becoming a collection you will return to over and over. Nearly every game in the package is a classic, and you’ll likely find yourself playing it long after the rest of your compilations are collecting dust. For the old school gamer, this title is a must. For the younger gamer, it’s the one collection that will help convince you that the old-timers might not be lying about the “good old days”.

Overall Score: 8.5

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