Midway Arcade Treasures Impressions

We explore Midway's upcoming treasure chest of classic games on the PlayStation 2.

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Midway Arcade Treasures is the upcoming multiplatform classic game compilation that assembles some of the finest games from the publisher's arcade heyday. The compilation will feature a bevy of arcade games--in all their old-school glory--and will supplement them with an assortment of extras that will give players some insight into their development. We had the chance to spend some time with a preview build of the PlayStation 2 version of the impressive compilation, which, while not yet complete, is coming together nicely.

Development of Midway Arcade Treasures is being handled by Digital Eclipse, a veteran Game Boy Advance developer who's expanding its scope to include consoles. Thanks to the developer's skills, the conversions of the assorted classic games are looking very sharp. You'll find 24 games, in all, on the disc. They include: 720, Blaster, Bubbles, Defender, Defender II, Gauntlet, Joust, Joust 2, Klax, Marble Madness, Paper Boy, Rampage, Rampart, Roadblasters, Robotron 2084, Satan's Hollow, Sinistar, Smash TV, Splat!, Spyhunter, Super Sprint, Root Beer Tapper, Toobin', and Vindicators. Each game is faithfully recreated on the PlayStation 2 with the sights and sounds of cutting-edge arcade technology--circa the 1980s. The games are laid out in an Egyptian-style menu that looks like an open book. In an amusing touch, hieroglyphic symbols are used to represent the games, and, as you highlight a glyph, a clip of the game appears in the center of the book.

As nice as that all is, we have to say we're especially pleased to see that you'll be able to access an options menu for each game that lets you customize a variety of features, including the control scheme. Best of all, each game will have a history menu that features four tabs you can cycle through with the L1 or R1 buttons. These tabs feature interviews, trivia, gallery, and history. The interview tab features video clips from the development team as they reminiscence about working on specific titles. The trivia tab features nuggets of little-known info related to the game. The gallery is a collection of assorted images related to the game, ranging from shots of sell sheets to pictures of the actual arcade cabinets. Finally, the history tab features a general collection of information, in magazine-style prose, on the game and its background. The version of the game we played still wasn't complete and didn't feature entries in every category for every game making it difficult to get an exact sense of what to expect.

As for the actual games, each of the old-school classics looks good and plays well on the PlayStation 2 controller. The only hitch is the lack of a trackball for some games, but the default setups work well once you get used to them. As mentioned, you'll also be able to tweak the control setups if the default scheme isn't to your liking.

From what we've seen so far, Midway Arcade Treasures is shaping up to be one of the best compilations to hit the scene since Activision's Atari 2600 compilation. With this Activision release in mind, we have to say we're hoping to see some cheesy video extras, like commercials or company videos on the games. However, even without these extras, the compilation should be a strong package when it ships this fall. For old-school fans, the chance to replay old favorites and hear what was on the development team's minds as they put together the games will be a nice treat. For younger gamers, who might have missed the originals due to time spent in the womb and/or other valid excuses, the compilation should be an excellent primer on the arcade scene and should, hopefully, shed some light as to why Midway was one of the giants of the arcade scene. Midway Arcade Treasures is currently slated to ship this fall for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.

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