Review By: Jared Black
|# Of Players:||1-4|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (Scoreboards, Friends), HDTV 480p|
For the first two games in the Midway Arcade Treasures series, Midway took the somewhat easier route of throwing a bunch of different classics together into one package. The first one featured 24 games, while the second featured a slightly less 20 titles. After 44 different games however, Midway's reserves were obviously starting to run low. So for the third release in the series, Midway chose instead to focus on the racing genre and release a smaller collection.
Honestly, the results are a little mixed. It includes 8 classic racing titles, among them San Francisco Rush 2049, San Francisco Rush: The Rock Alcatraz Edition, Hydro Thunder, Off Road Thunder, Super Off Road, Badlands, Race Drivin', and finally S.T.U.N. Runner. The stars are obviously the two Rush titles, along with Hydro Thunder. All spawned console conversions, and are among the best arcade games of all-time. Among the lesser-known titles, Super Off Road was a mainstay in arcades during its time and Off Road Thunder deserves attention simply because it melds Hydro Thunder and Super Off Road into one decent package. So there's certainly not a problem with the quality of the lineup here, and there's a good bit of fun to be found in any of the games really (even Race Drivin' if you're a masochist).
No, the problem lies in the fact that, if you aren't a fan of arcade racers, you simply won't find anything here that will interest you. With the first two games in the series, there were so many choices that almost anyone would find something of interest. If you bought Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and didn't like fighting games, you could still play titles like Arch Rivals, Spy Hunter II, or even Rampage World Tour. To limit the compilation's appeal even more, several of the games included are pretty similar to each other. Obviously, both Rush and Off Road titles closely resemble each other, and once you pick your favorite of each you're practically left with six titles.
As far as extras are concerned, while there is some bonus content here in the form of a Gallery of sell sheets and print advertisements for most games, it's pretty weak overall. This is supplemented on Xbox however by the ability to view and upload high scores to Xbox Live, which is a nice touch.
The upside to having a collection this limited is that most of these games are newer than what you'd typically find in these compilations. As a result they look better, sound better, and should appeal to newer gamers as a result. In particular, San Francisco Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder are actually conversions of the Sega Dreamcast versions, which means they look far superior to anything you'd typically find in a classics compilation. Off Road Thunder and Rush: The Rock still look pretty good as well, and even the simplicity of the flat polygons in S.T.U.N. Runner has some charm to it.
Sound wise, arcade racers aren't exactly known for their epic soundtracks or accurate sound effects. Some of it sounds really good, some of it sounds really bad, and some of it (like the sound effects in Race Drivin') just sounds horrible. Don't buy it for the audio, buy it for the gameplay.
Hey, I understand a title like this has limited appeal. But if there was ever a definitive collection of arcade racers, this is it. Come for the Rush and Hydro Thunder, stay for the other great games you can play when you need a break from those.
Posted: 2006-02-23 21:25:23 PST