Midway Arcade Treasures 3 (PS2/Xbox/GCN)

Midway Arcade Treasures 3
PS2/Xbox/GCN (2005)

Midway Arcade Treasure 3, the first themed disc in Midway’s series of compilations, delivers eight different racing games that offer something for everyone. — however. due to the fact that the titles vary so much in style and age, it’s doubtful anyone will care for all of them. Fans of the older games on the compilation will get headaches from the flashy newer titles, while the current generation of games will scoff at what used to pass for racing entertainment.

The current generation of racers are represented by four titles: Off Road Thunder, San Francisco Rush: The Rock, Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder, the last two of which appeared as stand-alone Dreamcast titles. Those with a need for speed will surely find what they are looking for in one of these four games. What is there to say about current racing games that hasn’t been said? Race laps around tracks in the car (SF Rush), rocket car (Rush 2049), boat (Hydro Thunder) or truck (Off Road Thunder) of your choice. Off Road Thunder is the worst looking of the four with muddy textures and sloppy handling; the other three look visually stunning and play as expected. Most of the newer games allow multiplayer split-screen racing action.

The 2D era is represented by two-and-a-half top-down racers, Super Off-Road, Super Off-Road Expansion Pack (same game, additional tracks) and Badlands. Both games are presented in a slight isometric view, similar to Atari’s Championship Sprint. Surprisingly enough, modern analog sticks serve as decent steering wheel replacements in these games. The control system using the triggers for gas/break and the analog stick for steering gives you good control, a must in any racing game. Super Off-Road has always been one of my favorite SNES titles, so it’s nice to finally own a home version of the real game. Bandlands plays like a futuristic version of Championship Sprint where your cars have been outfitted with weapons.Fans of Champinship Sprint will recognize many of the game’s sound effects which also appear here. These games also allow for multiplayer action, as all the action takes place on one screen.

The “wow, these used to pass for racing games” department is represented by Race Drivin’ and S.T.U.N. Runner, two games that waded into the world of 3D graphics by using few polygons and even less textures. As a kid growing up, the thing I remember about both of these games is that (at least in my arcade) they both had really large, unique environmental cabinets. The Race Drivin’ cabinet resembled a big yellow driving simulator that you got in, adjusted the seat, and even had to push down on the clutch and turn a physical key to start! S.T.U.N. Runner’s cabinet looked like a huge futuristic motorcycle bench you sat on to play. In context and during that era, they are interesting games that show where the industry was headed, but most gamers checking them out will be doing so out of curiousity’s sake and not for any given length of time. Race Drivin’, the sequel to Hard Drivin’, is probably the most cumbersome title on the disc. Both of these games are one player only.

Despite the fact that all eight of the disc’s games were originally played with controllers other than standard joysticks, all three modern consoles’ analog sticks allow the games to be playable. Joystick control for games designed for steering wheels is never perfect, but here it’s adaquate.

Missing this time around are the extras, those little bits that make these compilations more than just collections of games. No configurable controllers, no trivia, no interviews, no unlockable goals, no nothing. Even the menu is stark, filled with a single generically rendered arcade game. The “extras” link from the main menu allows gamers to choose between watching an Ed, Edd and Eddy commercial and the game’s credits. Fortunately, suicide isn’t offered as a third option (it would be a tough decision).

Midway Arcade Treasures 3 is a good but not great collection. Midway’ has taken a step backwards here by offering fewer games and extras than on their previous Treasures discs, but ultimately the games themselves play perfectly and deliver as advertised.

A lack of variety and not enough titles keep Midway Arcade Treasures 3 from ranking higher. “Treasure” may be pushing the status of some of the games on this disc. True fans of racing games will get the most mileage out of this collection.

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