Reviewed: March 9, 2005
Released: October 14, 2003
Midway Arcade Treasures 2 is Midway’s second installment in what is likely to become a yearly tradition of retro-compilations bringing arcade classics from the 80’s to a new generation of gamers. Your kid’s may have Grand Theft Auto but we had Narc and while they play their fancy 3D version of Spy Hunter 2 we can look back on those days spent in the arcade playing the original top-down version.
This treasure chest is jam packed with more than 20 classic arcade games including some of my personal favorites, Gauntlet II, Wizard or Wor, Xenophobe and many 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.
Arcade Treasures 2 not only delivers the classics but this latest installment focuses more on multiplayer gaming with more two, three, and four-player games than ever before. In fact, there are only two titles in this collection that are single-player only.
There is so much here to love. Just check out this amazing compilation with more than 20 great arcade games including:
As a proud member of the Pac Man Generation not only have I played every game in this collection, many of them are responsible for leading me to my chosen career as a video game journalist. Back in the 80’s these games were “state-of-the-art”, and while today’s youth will likely scoff at the primitive graphics and simplistic game design anyone in their mid to late 30’s can’t help but smile when you hear that 8-bit engine noise in Hard Drvin’ or here the powerful announcer voice in Mortal Kombat order you to FINISH HIM!
I could go on for a few dozen paragraphs about how each of these games play, but rather than doing 20 mini game reviews I’ll assume that if you are even considering getting this compilation disc you already have a good idea of what you are getting yourself into…lots of old-school addiction. What I will discuss is how well these games translate to the Xbox.
First of all, Digital Eclipse, the developer assigned to port these titles to Microsoft’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 2 had some proprietary controls like the steering wheel in Hard Drivin’. Obviously sacrifices had to be made when making these games work with a standard controller, but unless you have been playing these games continuously for the past decade there shouldn’t be too much culture shock.
Fighting fans will find much to like in this second edition with no less than four legacy fighting games including two Mortal Kombat titles, Pit Fighter, and everyone’s favorite dino-fighter, Primal Rage.
It’s really amazing to see how many franchises still exist today in next-gen forms. Anyone who enjoys modern-day versions of Spy Hunter, Gauntlet, or Mortal Kombat will get a nostalgic kick out of seeing these titles in their infancy, and with the current trend in retro-remakes, many of these games might just get retooled for the next generation of gamers.
For many gamers back in the 80’s we just didn’t have enough quarters to master or even finish some games. Now that “inserting a quarter” is a free button press away many gamers might finally be able to perfect those fatality moves in Mortal Kombat or finally finish Gauntlet 2.
The menu system has been greatly simplified (and improved) since the last Treasures game. You now have a fairly straightforward helix menu that shows icons for each of the 20 games allowing you to play the game or possibly view videos, view artwork, or get other interesting trivia about the title.
Oddly enough, the next-gen Xbox seems to have some problems playing 20-year-old games, but most of these are translations issues rather than programming. One particularly annoying translation bug is in Rampage World Tour where lone gamers will only be able to play as the Gorilla simply because you can’t pick your controls like you could at the arcade.
A word to parents regarding the "M" rating; all of these games were in arcades long before the ESRB existed and you probably played many of them yourself. With the exception of the bloody Mortal Kombat games, there is very little in this collection that is objectionable material for any youngster interested enough to want to play these games.
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 2 is a flawless recreation of the original source material. Gauntlet 2 and Wizard of Wor wouldn’t be winning any awards in 2005 and Cyberball 2072 won’t be competing with Madden, except maybe on the GBA, but all of these games look just as good as they did 20 years ago.
The Xbox version of Arcade Treasures 2 supports progressive scan, which is ironic since HDTV was the further thing in gamers’ minds back in the 80’s. Still, the crisp display makes these games look unfathomably better than their interlaced CRT counterparts from two decades past.
Framerate is generally pretty decent in most all games with the exception of Hard Drivin’ which is odd since this game features some of the most basic graphics in the collection, but once your car gets up to speed the framerate becomes very inconsistent.
The only thing left is the bonus material, which is of moderate interest to game historians but no one else is going to tolerate the horrible video and sound quality. It’s obvious these are old movies that were dug up, digitized, and stuck on this disc. 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 makes up for this oversight with the game graphics, which is where you will hopefully be spending most of your time.
Much like the video, the sound is perfectly recreated. Gamers used to hearing Dolby Digital mixes from their Xbox will wonder what that tinny music, synthesized speech, 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.
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 2. 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 2 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 2 is a must-have for retro gamers and a great way to preserve one of the most influential decades of gaming history.