Reviewed: October 23, 2005
Released: September 26, 2005
Midway Arcade Treasures 3 is Midway’s third installment in what is proving to be a yearly tradition of retro-compilations bringing arcade classics from the 80’s to a new generation of gamers. In this case, Midway brings us 8 retro-fitted racing titles to bring out the lead foot in everyone.
Sure, your kid’s may have Need for Speed or Burnout but we had Super Off Road and S.T.U.N. Runner and while they play their fancy new version of L.A. Rush we can bask in the legendary San Francisco Rush 2049.
As a proud member of the Pac Man Generation I have played almost every game in this collection. Back in the 80’s these games were “state-of-the-art”, and while today’s youth will likely scoff at the primitive graphics (Race Drivin’ is really bad) and simplistic game design, anyone in their 30’s or 40’s can’t help but smile when you hear that 8-bit engine buzz in Race Drivin’ or unforgettable “final lap” horn in Super Off Road.
While not as massive as previous treasure chest compilations, Midway has limited its focus to racing titles and has certainly picked some winners, and a loser or two. Here is a trip down memory lane. This package features; Hydro Thunder (I can finally retire my Dreamcast), Super Off Road, Badlands, Race Drivin’, S.T.U.N. Runner, Off Road Thunder, San Francisco Rush 2049, the original and The Rock Alcatraz Edition.
So slip on those racing gloves, put on your crash helmet and gentlemen…START YOUR ENGINES!
Whenever you take on the task of assembling a collection of vintage racing game you are bound to get a few gem and a few…well, let’s just say it…”turds”. Obviously, the shining gems in this package are Hydro Thunder and San Francisco Rush 2049. Hydro Thunder is one of three games that has kept my Dreamcast from moving into the garage and Digital Eclipse wisely chose this version to port to the Xbox rather than the original coin-op.
San Francisco Rush 2049 and the Alcatraz Edition are recreated to flawless perfection and will give you just as many countless hours of thrilling high-speed moments as it did so many years ago. The game has been greatly improved with a new circuit, stunt, battle, and ghost modes as well as some subtle track design improvements that offer new shortcuts for those with the quick eye to notice.
Moving down the list in decreasing quality we have Off Road Thunder which is still a great deal of fun when taken in small doses. Super Off Road and Badlands offer a great multiplayer experience without splitting the screen, but lack a bit of charm without the steering wheels of the coin-op version.
Then we have S.T.U.N. Runner, which is still a blast despite the flat-shaded polygon graphics that are only marginally better than the downright ugly Race Drivin’ that slips into a definite last place on the quality and fun list. If you already got your fill of Hard Drivin’ on Midway Arcade Treasure 2 then you have no reason to even load this sequel.
As with any and all racing titles, you have to have some tight controls to have fun, even in the most unrealistic of arcade racers. The first and most major problem I had with the game was that is does NOT work with my Logitech 2.4GHz controllers for whatever reason. I have three of them and none of them worked; yet when I plugged in my standard S-controller, all was well again.
Other than that, the various games all controlled pretty much as I remembered from the arcade, or in the case of Hydro Thunder, my Dreamcast.
The various games in this package span a wide range of dates and technology as evident by the screenshots. Race Drivin’ and S.T.U.N. Runner were pioneers in 3D technology while Hydro Thunder and Rush 2049 represent the best in what 80’s graphics had to offer.
Technically speaking, the Xbox delivers the best performance for this collection with an unfaltering 60fps, even in multiplayer. I was surprised these games were supporting HDTV 480p, which arguably creates some very clean images for some very retro-looking titles. Playing these games on my 47” HDTV was a huge change from the 27” fuzzy CRT’s in my arcade.
As with any retro game, my score is based on how faithfully the graphics are being reproduced in comparison to the original game, and I don’t expect you to stack this game along any other current title scoring the same in any of the criteria.
I guess I am about to contradict myself because even though the various games in Arcade Treasures 3 sound identical to their original counterparts I can in no good conscience claim that these sounds are good or even remotely pleasing to the ear. They sucked in the 80’s (even though we didn’t know better) and the 8-bit hums, tire squeals, and nitro boosts sound just as bad today.
With the exception of Hydro Thunder and Rush 2049 (are you seeing a pattern here?) you’ll want to keep the volume very low so as not to damage your ears or your home theater rig. As bad as they are, there is a certain bit of nostalgic charm to these grating sounds, but that charm quickly wears off.
I supposed if I could count up all the quarters I dumped into these games growing up I could probably give you an exact dollar value for this package, but the simple fact is this is 2005 and even though there is a bit of nostalgia in going back and revisiting these games, chances are you won’t stick around for very long. Sure, there is no denying the insatiable challenge of Hydro Thunder or Rush 2049, but there are just too many next-gen racing titles that demand your attention and dollar.
But for those of you on a budget, you can’t beat the $20 price tag, especially for a collection that has more good games than bad. If you can put yourself into the proper mindset you can spend as much time, or perhaps even more, with a game like Rush 2049 than any modern racer.
It’s an interesting direction for Midway to be taking by limiting one of their Treasure collections to a single genre, but if you have to do it then “racing” is the genre to pick. For casual racers, Midway Arcade Treasure 3 has about two or three games that will demand your attention while most barely deserve a quick glance. But those few titles that are worth playing are a mesmorizing trip into racing history and well worth the $20 ticket to ride.