Though video games have steadily become more and more graphically intensive, complicated, and popular over the years, anyone who spent any amount of time in an arcade during the early to mid '80s cannot deny that Midway and Atari produced some of their best work to date during that period. Since the video arcade as we know it has been dying a slow death for the past decade, fewer and fewer of these classic games are available to play in the original form, and a vast number of gamers have never had the chance to play some of the greatest games of all time. On one hand, Midway Arcade Treasures is a godsend, as it features no fewer than 24 incredible games that are practically unavailable in their native format. On the other hand, some of the games featured just don't play the way they should, marring an otherwise stellar compilation. If you have any interest in classic gaming, this collection is worth a look, provided you can get used to its quirks.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/xbox/midwayarcade/1118/0001.jpgThe world's first vandalism/entrepreneurial sim, Paperboy.
Midway Arcade Treasures includes 24 games: Spy Hunter, Defender, Gauntlet, Joust, Paperboy, Rampage, Marble Madness, Robotron: 2084, Smash TV, Joust 2, Bubbles, RoadBlasters, Stargate (called Defender II in this and most other classic game packages for some mysterious reason), Splat!, Blaster, Rampart, Sinistar, Super Sprint, 720, Toobin', Klax, Satan's Hollow, Vindicators, and Root Beer Tapper.
Given that a large portion of the 24 games in Midway Arcade Treasures feature some sort of nonstandard controller, be it a trackball for Marble Madness, a set of handlebars for Paperboy, a 49-position joystick (as opposed to the standard eight) for Sinistar, or the obligatory steering yoke for driving games like RoadBlasters or Spy Hunter, the developers had to make a few changes to make the games playable on a standard controller. For the most part, every game is laid out as logically as possible and can simply be picked up and played. However, games that feature analog input feel very loose and are hard to control, especially when compared to the original games. While you can expect that some sacrifices have to be made when adapting an existing game to play on an entirely different set of controls, it feels as if the developers paid very little attention when it came to making sure the games played accurately. In spite of that, almost every game in Midway Arcade Treasures is completely and totally enjoyable once you get a handle on how they play.
In terms of gameplay, this compilation has plenty to keep any avid gamer busy for quite some time. Whether you enjoy the frenetic shooting action of Robotron: 2084 or Smash TV, the quick strategy of Rampart or Klax, the sheer challenge of Defender or Joust, or the multiplayer fun of Gauntlet, Midway Arcade Treasures literally offers something for everyone. While it has already been mentioned that some of these games don't play faithfully to the originals, in some cases the games simply don't run like they should either. Smash TV's frame rate constantly dips, often skipping frames of animation, which diminishes the greatness of its relentless onslaught of action. Further, many of the games don't produce the same sounds that they did in the arcade.
Unless you're an absolute stickler for perfection, you will probably be able to look past these flaws, but it makes you wonder exactly why more time wasn't spent ensuring that every game was optimized to play better. It's especially puzzling when you take into account how powerful the current-generation consoles are. Somewhat bewildering is the addition of interviews with the original development teams of some of the games. While this sounds appealing to anyone interested in hearing about how these games were made, the truth is that these videos were all originally featured in a compilation for the PlayStation, the Arcade Party Pak. Sadly, these videos retain the same choppy video and overly compressed audio that were par for the course on the PlayStation, and when they're featured on consoles that are capable of playing back higher-quality video, the addition of these interviews just feels lazy and thrown in at the last minute.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/xbox/midwayarcade/1118/0002.jpgOne of the greatest games of all time, faithlessly re-created.
On the whole, Midway Arcade Treasures has all the ingredients to make a great addition to any gamer's library, but you can't help but feel that a much better job could have been done if more time had been spent making sure that everything worked correctly. It would have yielded a much more recommendable game. If you're a fan of the classic gaming experience who wouldn't mind the sorts of minor issues that are rampant throughout this collection, you'll be able to get your fill with Midway Arcade Treasures. If you demand nothing less than perfection from conversions of classic games, you'd be better off looking elsewhere.