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Midway Arcade Treasures 2
Review By: Jared Black
 
Developer:  Digital Eclipse
Publisher:  Midway
# Of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Compilation
ESRB:  Mature
Online Play:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, Multitap
Date Posted:  11-03-04

The retro gaming movement has been in full swing for quite some time now and remains as popular as ever, so itís no surprise that older companies continue to put together compilation after compilation.  The latest is Midway Arcade Treasures 2, a collection of 20 different arcade games from Midwayís storied past.  Much like last yearís release this collection has its share of hits and duds, although there are fewer duds than before.  This time the collection includes:

  • APB

  • Arch Rivals

  • Championship Sprint

  • Cyberball 2072

  • Gauntlet II

  • Hard Driviní

  • Kozmik Kroozír

  • Mortal Kombat II

  • Mortal Kombat 3

  • NARC

  • Pit Fighter

  • Primal Rage

  • Rampage World Tour

  • Spy Hunter II

  • Timber

  • Total Carnage

  • Wacko

  • Wizard of Wor

  • Xenophobe

  • Xybots

Obviously, the stars of the pack as far as Midway is concerned are Mortal Kombat II & 3, Gauntlet II, Spy Hunter II, and NARC.  If you donít believe me, just look at the prominent positioning theyíre given on the box (listed first on the back and pictured on the front).  However, I would also strongly recommend checking out Arch Rivals, Cyberball 2072, Total Carnage, and Xybots as well.  Arch Rivals is a classic arcade basketball game that predates NBA Jam (and the one I probably played most as a kid), Cyberball 2072 is a sort-of futuristic football with robots and an exploding ball, Total Carnage is the successor to Smash TV and another frantic shooter, and Xybots is an innovative (for its time) 3D shooter.  There are a couple of real stinkers in the collection (either unplayable or didn't age well), including Kozmik Kroozír, Wacko, Timber, and Pit Fighter among them.

Before I played this I assumed I never played Xybots before as the name didnít sound familiar.  The first time I played it though the controls seemed second nature to me, and I got an odd sense of dťjŗ vu.  Then the memories started flooding back as I realized that I had in fact played it before (or a very close clone)!   Most people wouldnít consider Xybots to be one of the stars of this collection, but to me it is due to the nostalgia factor.  Thanks to Midway Arcade Treasures 2 Iíve rediscovered a long-forgotten classic of my youth.  Thatís one of the reasons why every game here deserves its place in the collection, as Iím sure other people have had similar experiences with other lesser-known titles.

Since these games are emulated, not every conversion is 100% accurate.  The sound in several games is a bit distorted, and there are a number of minor graphic irregularities.  For some reason Pit Fighter runs super-fast (Iíve heard itís twice as fast as the original, but canít verify that), to the point where it really isnít even playable.  On the whole however, Digital Eclipse did a good job of emulating the original hardware on PS2.  Like Rampart in last yearís version, a few games also suffer from having to use the PS2 controller.  Championship Sprint in particular is very hard to control, as the analog stick is extremely sensitive and the slightest press can result in hitting the wall and/or getting turned around completely.

Obviously the graphics in most of these games wonít even compete with whatís on the GBA these days, but since most of these games are newer than in the first installment they hold up a bit better.  Aside from a few minor glitches theyíre identical to the original game, which is really what matters most here.  The same can be said of the music and sound effects.

My primary complaint with the original was the presentation, and for the most part thatís been fixed in this installment.  The interface is much better than before, with a cleaner look and easier to read text.  The bonus content includes a short history on each game, a gallery for each game (usually just sell sheets), and in many instances bonus video interviews with the original developers.  However, most of these videos were obviously filmed years ago and the audio quality is extremely poor in them.  For the next installment Iíd really like to see Midway get creative with the bonus content (more behind-the-scenes, conceptual artwork, MP3s, etc.) as well as film some new stuff exclusively for the collection.

HIGHS:

  • An excellent collection of arcade classics.

  • The emulation is better than in most collections of this type.

  • Almost every game is worth playing at least once.

LOWS:

  • Pit Fighter is virtually unplayable due to the increased speed, and Championship Sprint is very hard to control with either analog stick or d-pad.

  • For parties, a multitap is required due to the lack of four controller ports.

FINAL VERDICT:

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 is another solid compilation of arcade classics.  The focus on newer titles means it should appeal more to current gamers than the first installment, and it features a nice balance of quality titles across multiple genres.  The bonus content is still pretty weak, but for $20 this is another must-own for fans of classic arcade gaming.

Overall Score: 8.0

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