Review: Midway Arcade Treasures (Nintendo Gamecube)

God bless you Midway. That’s all I can say. God bless you for giving us amazing classic games that I spent large quantities of my single digit years. God bless you for re-releasing them all on one disc for all systems. And most of all, god bless you for having games that were made nigh roughly 15 years ago that are still superior to a lot of games cranked out today with pretty graphics but lacking the gameplay, simple beauty and challenge found in a lot of the games collected on the Midway Arcade Treasures disc.

As you can probably tell already, I’m in heaven from this release! Some of the greatest games ever made are given new life by allowing new gamers and casual gamers to see why Retrogamers like myself are so bent up on how great games USED to be. Sure, games are prettier now, but back in the day they were hard as hell, a lot more fun, and so much more innovative and creative. Gaming was still in its golden age and people were churning out bizarre games with wacky controls and weirder plots. And this is no exception.

The games included in Midway Arcade Treasures are

720 (skateboarding game)
Blaster (shooter)
Bubbles (a cleaning the sink game)
Defender (Ohhhhhhhh 2D shooter goodness, )
Defender 2 (Originally called Stargate and Stargate Defender. This game appears in my favorite TV show of all time, Newsradio. Dave Foley rules!)
The ORIGINAL Gauntlet (Elf needs food badly! Warrior shot the potion!)
Joust (Flying Ostrich killing game that is so simple and so wonderful, you MUST play it)
Joust 2 (ditto)
Klax (puzzle game)
Marble Madness (Hey, Super Monkey Ball fans? Yeah, this game.)
Paperboy (IT’S PAPERBOY! PAPERBOY!!!
Rampage (Giant monsters destroying cities across America game)
Rampart (Castle Siege Game)
Roadblasters (Car Wars the video game)
Robotron 2064 ( You know that movie The Matrix? Yeah, this game)
Root Beer Tapper (Game where you serve root bear to aliens and 80’s punk rockers)
Satan’s Hollow (Like Space Invaders, but full of Satanic Goodness)
Sinstar (2D shooter)
Smash TV (You know the movie The Running Man? Yeah, this game)
Splat (Food Fighting Video Game)
SpyHunter (Umm, Hello. SPYHUNTER! Best car game EVER MADE)
Super Sprint (Racing game)
Toobin (Inner Tube racing game)
Vindicators (Tank game)

Look at some of these games people. Any of these games were not only wildly popular when I was a lad, but are still major influences on games today. Sadly, many games have tried to plagiarize these originals, and some have even been remade into 3D games to capture newer video game fans with flashy graphics while suckering in old school gamers in hopes of a good sequel to these wonderful originals. Some times it has been an actual success: Gauntlet Legends/Dark Legacy. Other times they have been horrible mockeries of all that is good: The New Defender games.

People, if there is one disc every next gen console owner should have, it is this one. 24 games. TWENTY FOUR! For twenty dollars. I spent more than that playing Gauntlet in the arcade as a kid! And Rampage! Smash TV? God knows every time I played that game it was at least 2-3 dollars in the machine because it was that damn hard and addicting and fun and insane. Midway Arcade Classics will school your ass in how games used to be and still should be: Wildly original in terms of plot and design! Exceptionally addicting! Harder than trying to wrestle a rabid badger with one arm tied behind your back! And the focus set on fun instead of flash. Although all 24 games are contained on one compilation disc, each one has a distinct heart and soul created by the countless hours their developers poured into making the best games they good; filling the games with their own heartfelt passion and passing it on to the Arcade going public. You owe it to yourself to play this compilation. You owe it to the people who allowed you to have almost real looking women with bouncy boobs pixilated on your screen. You owe it to the legions of gamers that kept your favorite companies in business back when Arcades were jammed full of people waiting in lines to play these games. But most of all, you owe it to these games. To play them and love them and devour them like millions did so many years ago. To allow them to show you first hand just why they are classics and legends and the standard bearers of what video gaming perfection can be. Sure they’re not as pretty. Sure they don’t have five minute CGI demos and cutscenes. But they are fun beyond any words in the English language that I can transcribe onto my screen as I type. All I can say is that I beseech you to go out and own this disc for the Cube, Xbox or PC. These games need to be owned by everyone. They just do.

Let’s Review

1. Story

Right. Long before the days of the angst ridden youth with spikey hair saving the world from an evil beyond imagination wielding power beyond description, there were simpler stories. Ones that weren’t rehashed time and time again until all originality in a game was squeezed out like a Bear hugging a ripe watermelon. Each game was unique and gave us insane plots that made you want to play the game. George eating a mega vitamin to become a super giant monkey that destroys Cleveland? When had that been done before? Smash TV? As original as it gets. So simple in the plot, Guys blowing robots up and killing things for cash and prizes. Joust? Who else but geniuses or totally insane computer geeks could conceive of flying ostriches ridden by knights that fought to the death and in the sequel could turn into dragons or a living Marble trapezing through caverns of Chaos! Lo, these were the days of originality and creativity. Games that didn’t need a 30 minute intro in order to explain the point of the game. These games were blatantly obvious what they were about. And they were good. Where else would there be a gamer where designers could say “Hey! Let’s make a game involving inner tubing through prehistoric times and beating off dinosaurs with empty beer cans!’ The red tape of today would say, “Needs more boobs!’ and that would be that.

For sheer creativity in terms of plot, this once again, is the disc to own.

Story Rating: 10/10

2. Graphics

It’s odd. Rampage still looks as beautiful to me as it did all those years ago when it was new and original. Roadblasters is still able to impress me. As are the graphics behind paperboy. Other games like Robotron or Satan’s Hollow are pretty damn ugly. But back in the day they were amazing.

As much as I’d love to rate these games on how they looked then, I can’t as we’re talking about their ability on a next gen console. And a lot of these games look like junior high attempts after finding a dev kit in a back alley somewhere. But even then, games like Paperboy and Spy Hunter are incredible and can hold up to the test of time.

Are these games I’d say ca be sold sheerly by graphical ability? Hell no. Not in today’s market. These games need to be sold on originality fun and sheer addictiveness. Looks wise, these games will be snubbed for things like DOA Volleyball or Soul Calibur 2. And that’s just sad.

Graphics Rating: 4/10

3. Sound

Classic tunes coming out of my Game Cube! To hear the voice of Stephen Hawkins saying “Elf Need Food Badly” just made my day to the point where I actually caught myself cheering for the game out loud. Yes, I was a Gauntlet Addict. To here the flapping of the Ostrich in Joust, or the telegraph noise before each stage in Rampage. The sound effects are classic and authentic in their simplicity. The voices in Paperboy make me laugh every time. I just love these games. And yes, this is one of those games where the voices and sound effects over shadow the music to where I have to boot up each game in order to recall the music. Sad, no? I just have things like “Never have I seen such bravery’ in my head far before the music of SpyHunter. And so classic incredible best ever sound effects are weighed down by the fact the music is good, but nothing memorable.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control

A lot of these games play exactly like they did in the arcade. Sure the Game Cube controlling takes some getting used to for games like Toobin’ and Paperboy and Marble Madness, but that’s because they had controllers created simply for their arcade console that were never duplicated. And because that is what I instinctively remembered I was pretty bad at these games when I first turned them on. But after a few games, it was all good. Other games like Gauntlet, Smash TV, Rampage, and Joust all played as if the Game Cube controller had been around back then.

I do want to point out I NEVER remember SpyHunter have such a hair-trigger response to a controller. It was as if the entire road was slicked down with oil.

If you can stand to relearn the control scheme for a few games, you’ll be okay. If you’re going to be anal about not having a track ball for Marble Madness or handlebars for Paperboy, then you’re out of luck and I suggest buying old arcade consoles as it shall be the only way you will ever be happy. Me? I’ll be logging a few hours each week on Smash TV listening to the host saying, “I’d buy that for a dollar!’

Control Rating: 7/10

5. Replayability

Hmm. 24 games. Some with up to 100 levels of play. All exceptionally hard in some way shape or form. All games that are so incredible you and your friends with love yourself some Retrogaming goodness! 4 Player Gauntlet? 3 Player Rampage? These games NEVER get old. Just fork out the twenty bones and get it going!

Replayability rating: 10/10

6. Balance

Well, I’ll warn you up front. Back in the old days, video games were made to be so hard, you’d be damn lucky if you got very far without pumping out massive amounts of quarters down the slots. They were money makers disguised as wonderful bliss inducing fun. But let’s see you get to Scarface in Smash TV without using half a dozen continues! And he’s only the second level boss. Read some of the reports on Gauntlet and how you COULDN’T get pass level 6 without an extra quarter or three. And the game was designed that way. You are in the land of hard evil gaming glory here. You wanna see why guys like myself and Bebito and ECM and Liquidcross bitch about how whiny gamers are nowadays and how they have no idea what challenging is and why anyone that says “Wah! Viewtiful Joe is difficult” has never counted how many quarters it takes to get to Manhattan in Rampage! Whiny wimpy whippersnappers!

But as these games start out hard and just get harder, it actually is balanced. There is an obvious degree of difficultly here and when you get good at some of these games, try going back to play other games you USED to think were hard and find out much better you are at them now. Games like Ikaruga took their calling from games like Smash TV. So get ready to watch your characters dies dozens upon dozens of times. And to actually enjoy it for once. Just don’t forget your profanity jar.

Balance Rating: 6/10

7. Originality

Heh. Do I even need to cover this category with this Compilation? It’s 24 very old and incredible and innovative games that set the standard for how good games could be! To give these games anything less than a perfect score in this category would be an insult.

I Originality rating: 10/10

8. Addictiveness

Okay. When I turn out Gauntlet and a few hours have passed feeling only like minutes and I know I’ve said “just one more level and I’ll quit” a dozen times at the very least, look up and see I’m only on level 59 out of 100 and want to keep playing even though it’s not 2am and I have a crapload to do at work tomorrow, I’m playing electronic Heroin.

When I have spent 21 days in game time beating people, bashing tanks and lowering property values and my roommate/cousin has to unplug my GameCube in order to get me to the family holiday get-together, I’m an addict.

And I know in my heart of hearts, that it is not just I who feel this way about the games included on this compilation. These games were designed to ruin your social life, empty your bank account and make you a drone to their hypnotic beauty. You will become on with this compilation disc. And you will not care. Because there are papers to deliver, evil spies to run off the road, and Satan to destroy.

Addictiveness Rating: 10/10

9. Appeal Factor

There should not be a reason why a gamer doesn’t own this disc. Retrogamers should snatch this up. People look for a real video game challenge should love this disc. People who want a great bargain should rush for this compilation. People who only want to own a single disc for their console and feel like it wasn’t a waste of money NEED THIS DISC. It is a system seller. Honestly. Because the amount of sheer quality and counts hours you will spend enjoying this disc are right here waiting for you. Verily, in a perfect world, this would be the best selling disc of all time, until Sega released “Shining Force Collection.”

But sadly there are idiots among us. Those that view graphics to be the most important part of a video game and unless it’s top of the line in looks, they won’t even consider the gameplay. And those people need to be smothered in their sleep. You know who they are. DESTROY THEM! Then go back to playing this disc.

Appeal Factor Rating: 9/10

10. Miscellaneous

Histories of the games. Interviews with those that made these games possible. This shows you right out Midway geared this game for hardcore gamers and/or Retrogamers. Midway managed to back this mini disc full of so much content, it amazes me. And these interviews and histories are just yet another bonus besides the multitude of games and incredible price slapped on this puppy. Yet again, I can’t think of a reason for you all not to rush out, knock over an old lady and put this game in your collection. It needs to be owned. OWNED BY YOU.

Miscellaneous Rating: 10/10

Short Attention Span Summary
Why do I have to repeat myself? TWO DOZEN of the best games ever made on one disc! These games are the reason Arcades actually were profitable once upon a time. Why there were lines leading out of the mall your arcade was housed in to get at Smash TV and Rampage. To get everyone on the block to subscribe in Paperboy! These are the reason that most of us became gamers, but also what inspired hundreds of people to become so passionate about video gaming they designed whatever next gen game you oh so love so much. Get this disc and show respect to those that paved the way for where gaming is now, as well as the future it will have.