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Midway Arcade Treasures Package Art
Digital Eclipse

Midway Arcade Treasures

The arcade games included in this collection may all be classics, but whether they're all treasures is another story and largely in the eye of the beholder. The games that can be seen clearly in cover art such as Joust, Paperboy, Defender, Spy Hunter, Gauntlet, Marble Madness, Rampage, and Rampart are indeed treasured, classic arcade titles. The others (roughly half) are more obscure, and it's questionable whether or not it was worth the effort to include them.


The visuals in the games are all straight from their respective arcade machines. Menu interfaces are hardly worthy to be called such. A flashy intro zooms into an Egyptian tomb (which has what to do with arcade games?), landing on some tablet surrounded by fake hieroglyphic symbols representing each game in the collection. As if the symbols weren't cryptic enough, you have to wait until the preview of the game's original title screen loads up to even read which game is which. These games have history, why not use it instead of inventing something cheesy?

A perfect illustration of unpolished interface is that encountered while loading (yes, there are load times on a GameCube disk featuring games that are around twenty years old). While you wait, a picture of a controller labels the controls for that game. But designers didn't even take the time to remove blank label boxes for the buttons that aren't used.

One redeeming grace that could fall under visuals is the DVD content with some developer interviews, cabinet art, and sales flyers. These are interesting to see, but don't make or break the collection unless you're a hardcore fan.


The sparseness of audio in the games themselves is to be expected for their age, with quaint low-bit voice bytes in Paperboy being highlights. The sparseness of audio in the collection's interface can claim no such excuse; there is no music and the few sound effects are painfully generic.


With a standard controller controls feel clunky and unresponsive. One would think a more sensitive console controller would yield more responsive control, but this just isn't the case. With many of the games I found myself wishing I was at the arcade machine with a joystick in one hand and buttons at the other.

An especially good illustration of this is with Joust, a game I remember for allowing the joyous freedom of 2D flight by flapping your mount's wings. With arcade controls, said flapping provided the once lilting lift that gave you the impression you were riding a flying bird. Now, with a standard controller, flapping has become a challenge more akin to wrestling the controls of a failing aircraft. This kills Joust because half the fun of the original was the freedom and relative ease of swooping around the screen, deftly grazing enemies. The challenge was (and should be) against the enemies, not the controls.

In all fairness gameplay does improve some using an arcade controller for which many of the games were originally designed. If you don't have one of these and you're considering this collection, you will need one to fully enjoy the games.

Controls aside, most of the non-treasures (roughly half of the twenty games included) are either overly simplistic or extremely difficult, reflecting their original homes on novelty machines where the learning curve was felt more in one's billfold than in one's brain. They are a novelty at best, have not aged well, and cannot provide the satisfying, engaging experience that defines a timeless classic. I would go so far as to call them minigames, which taken as a whole are perhaps entertaining but quickly lose their appeal individually.


Only some of the games in the collection are multiplayer, understandable for those that never had a multiplayer mode. But why is Joust a multiplayer absentee when it was originally simultaneous multiplayer? Turns out that despite the back of the box and default settings Joust is simultaneous multiplayer after all. Thank goodness. I will say (and this ties back to interface) that without prior knowledge of the game's history, some digging in options and several attempts, I would have never enabled it. Getting two players set up is considerably more challenging than need be, and this is one of the crown treasures of Midway Arcade Treasures!


Had developers put the extra effort into interface and fuller options for the core treasures rather than including all the throwaway titles this could have been a stellar collection. As it is, Midway Arcade Treasures holds a tenuous spot at strictly average, teetering on below average.

If there is a very special place in your heart for a few of the classics found here the collection may be worth your money (don't forget the arcade controller, too). If this isn't the case and you're simply deciding between compilations there are some much better ones out there to play first.

final score 6.0/10

Staff Avatar Paul Starke
Staff Profile | Email
"In Japan this was named a 'trouble bug.' (...Is it really a bug?)"

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