Reviewed: February 18, 2004
Reviewed by: Mark Smith
Released: November 17, 2003
Midway Arcade Treasures is just one of the latest compilation titles to bring retro gaming to a whole new generation. This treasure chest is jam packed with over 20 classic arcade games including all-time favorites SpyHunter, Defender, Gauntlet, Joust and more for the first-time on next generation consoles. And that’s not all! This ultimate arcade collection also contains cool DVD content with game histories, creator interviews and top secrets from back in the day.
You know a game is cool, or at least terribly addictive, when every time you go to play it a bit and write the review you forget all about writing the review. I’ve probably logged more hours playing Joust and Defender than I did completing Vice City, and don’t even get me started about my addiction with the original Gauntlet.
There is so much here to love. Just check out this amazing compilation with more than 20 great arcade games including:
Having grown up in an arcade – yes I was abandoned at the mall and raised by the token attendant at Aladdin’s Castle – I played most of these games when they were “state-of-the-art”. While today’s youth will likely scoff at the primitive graphics and simplistic game design anyone in their 30’s or older can’t help but smile when the familiar tunes of Satan’s Hollow or SpyHunter start to play.
I could go on for a few dozen paragraphs about how each of these games play, but chances are if you are even considering getting this compilation disc you already have a good idea what they are all about. What I will discuss is how well these games translate to the PS2.
First of all, Digital Eclipse, the developer assigned to port these titles to Sony’s next-gen system, did a flawless job of bringing over every last sound effect, synthesized musical note, and pixel-perfect graphics. These games look and sound just like their original coin-op counterparts.
Surprisingly enough, almost all of the games play just as well as they did 10-20 years ago with only a few exceptions. Some of the games featured in Arcade Treasures had some proprietary controls like wheels, trackballs, and in the case of Tapper, an actual tap handle. Obviously sacrifices had to be made when making these games work with the Dual Shock, but unless you have been playing these games continuously for the past decade there shouldn’t be too much culture shock. Games like Robotron 2084 play wonderfully with the dual sticks while games like Marble Madness and Rampart scream for a trackball.
Playing these games is just as fun as it was back in the arcade but navigating the convoluted menus to pick and load those games is more like work. All of the games are presented in a menu format that capitalizes on the word “treasures” by adopting an Egyptian pyramid menu with hieroglyphics. You basically move around highlighting the cryptic icons that really having nothing to do with the game you are choosing. A video of the chosen game appears in the middle of the menu and you can choose to play the game, read some background info, and when available, watch some behind-the-scenes interviews.
If you are old enough to enjoy these games then you are probably curious enough to enjoy these interviews. I found almost all of them extremely interesting even if a few are a bit dated. This is the Encarta of 80’s console gaming, a truly interactive encyclopedia where you not only play the game but learn about them.
Please don’t confuse my unusually high score for graphics with other modern games receiving this same score. Basically, all I am saying is that Arcade Treasures is a flawless recreation of the original source material. Rampage and Sinistar wouldn’t be winning any awards in 2004 but all of these games look just as good as they did 10-20 years ago.
There are a few negatives starting with the aforementioned interface, and while the PS2 is more than adequate to recreate all the gameplay in acceptable framerates Smash TV gets a bit jumpy, obviously a design decision to keep the gameplay consistent with the arcade version.
The only thing left is the bonus material. The font is just plain bad, hard to read, even with an S-Video hook-up, and the movies are highly compressed MPEG’s. I supposed you could say it gives the entire package a retro-like feel but most will say it’s just cheap. Thankfully, the game shines with the game graphics, which is where you will be spending countless hours of the rest of your life.
Much like the video, the sound is perfectly recreated. Gamers used to hearing booming Dolby Pro Logic sound and music will wonder what that tinny music and collection of beeps and whistles are all about. Parents can then regale their children with tales of the good old days, before 24-channel, 5.1 surround sound.
We were lucky to get a single-track midi theme and a few dozen synthesized effects. When games started introducing speech the gamers became speechless. “Warrior needs food” should bring a smile to any gamer over 35.
Considering most of the people who played these games when they came out were dumping hundreds of quarters into coin slots each week, we already know how addicting they are. The fact that we can play these games now without sacrificing our lunch money means there is no limitation to our obsession with completing all the levels in Gauntlet or finally mastering Defender.
The day this game arrived I played Joust for almost four straight hours. When another GCM reviewer joined in for some Gauntlet another two hours vanished before we had to force ourselves to stop.
Bottom line here is that you have 20+ highly addictive games and even if you only like half of them you are guaranteed to get your money’s worth out of Arcade Treasures. It’s only $20 so don’t even insult yourself or Midway by renting this game. Pry that twenty out of your wallet and start thinking up excuses for calling in sick to work.
Midway Arcade Treasures is going to appeal to anyone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and was a regular at their local arcade. This amazing compilation DVD has games that you can now only find in airport terminals and bowling alleys. Parents can finally compete with their kids and actually have an advantage, and there is even some educational and historical value to this collection.
These are first-rate emulations of all the original games, perfect recreations that will put a smile on your face and provide countless hours of gaming enjoyment. Arcade Treasures is a must-have for retro gamers and a great way to preserve one of the most influential decades of gaming history.