8.4

Midway Arcade Treasures 3 review
Midway shifts into retro high gear

The good:

8 arcade racing games perfectly converted. Some multiplayer options. Price.

The bad:

No online or system link playability. Some control and graphics issues on some games. A couple more games would have been nice.

Summary:

Taking a different path in the series, Midway devotes their 3rd Arcade Treasures installment to showcasing some of their best racing/driving games from the 1980s & 1990s. This collection includes Super Off Road w/Track Pak, San Francisco Rush The Rock, Rush 2049, Badlands, S.T.U.N. Runner, Hydro Thunder, Off Road Thunder, and Race Drivin'. All are converted from the arcade originals except for Hydro Thunder & Rush 2049-Midway & Digital Eclipse chose to instead port the Sega Dreamcast versions of these games to allow some multiplayer capability and added gameplay features lacking from the arcade versions.

The graphics are perfect compared to the arcade originals, and generally they maintain the same smooth frame rate, except for S.T.U.N. Runner, which suffers from extremely serious frame rate problems and constant stalling/freezing. It really won't hinder gameplay but is an extreme annoyance. Rush 2049 also appears to have slightly less detail than it's arcade counterpart. Sounds are also perfectly converted and are arcade-perfect as well, although the voices in S.T.U.N. Runner appear to have been very slightly modified but not enough to be major different. Controls vary from game to game, generally they are responsive but S.T.U.N. Runner and Rush 2049 have some problems. On S.T.U.N. Runner the control stick reacts like a steering wheel, moving you back to center when you stop turning, much like the arcade's "T-Bar" setup, but the D-Pad does not. This is not mentioned in the manual and will cause problems until you get used to it. Rush 2049's controls are realistic but feel rather sluggish at first. Controls for the other games are solid and otherwise responsive-it does take a little time to get used to not using the standard steering wheel controls. Gameplay is fast and arcade-perfect, with each game presenting a different style of racing from the others. There are games featuring off-road racing, more traditional racing, powerboat racing, futuristic virtual-reality style racing, and even shoot-em-up racing. All the games feature their original arcade features and options, although Hydro Thunder & Rush 2049 were ported from earlier console versions-although this does seem to negatively alter gameplay at first (not everything is immediately available and it can take a while to earn everything), it allows for more gameplay enhancements and additional console-only content (Hydro Thunder gets a bonus track not in the arcade version), plus some multiplayer support (2 players instead of single player, Rush 2049 allows up to 4 players split-screen). Online play is limited to scoreboards, disappointing in the sense that some games could have at least supported system link (at least the Thunder & Rush games). Also, while there's plenty of replay value here, 8 games isn't as many as there could have been-it's also confusing because the manual mentions 9 games; this is because sometimes they count the "Track Pak" version of Super Off Road as a separate game even though it's mainly an add-on with new tracks but otherwise is the same. Also, this version Super Off Road is missing the endorsement & likeness of "Ironman" Ivan Stewart that the 80s original had. I would have personally liked to see the original San Francisco Rush included and perhaps the arcade version of Arctic Thunder (which was originally released on console in 2001).

Like the other retro collections the $20 price tag makes this an excellent pickup, and these games have lots of replay value. Digital Eclipse once again did a near-flawless job converting the games from arcade to home and Midway even managed to get in some bonus content, mainly a brief history of the game and some original promotional ads. But the other extra included, a trailer for Midway's upcoming "Ed, Edd, & Eddy" game probably wasn't needed here. Even if you're buying this just for the Rush games or Hydro Thunder and never play the others, this is still a must-buy for retro collectors and race fans, and the simplicity of the other games like Super Off Road & Badlands lend themselves well to multiplayer pick-up games. And even though S.T.U.N. Runner has serious flaws it's still a fun and unique racing/shooter hybrid in it's own right. Overall it's not the best Midway collection, but certainly is the fastest and fills several key gaps left over from the first 2 in the series. And like the others it offers tons of replay value and will keep you racing for a long time.

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