With a selection of racers to cover the 2D, early and late 3D eras, there should be at least a few games that any racing

User Rating: 8.4 | Midway Arcade Treasures 3 XBOX
One of the most neglected genres when it comes to compilations tends to be the racing genre. With their third rendition of their Arcade Treasures series of games, Midway decided to give the racing fans what they wanted with nine classic racers from their arcade vault: Badlands, Hydro Thunder, Off Road Thunder, Race Drivin', San Francisco Rush 2049, San Francisco Rush: The Rock Alcatraz Edition, S.T.U.N. Runner, Super Off Road, and Super Off Road Track Pak. There seems to be plenty of gas in the tank for this compilation to make it around the track and please racing fans looking to the past for a racing fix. Does it cross the finish line?

San Francisco Rush 2049 is one of the highlights of the compilation and rightfully so. It's fast, crazy arcade racing down the streets of San Francisco and it's extremely fun. Midway decided to convert the Dreamcast version for this package, which is superior to the arcade version with extra modes and additions to the tracks. This means that there are the additional circuit, ghost, stunt, and battle modes for gamers to enjoy. Circuit mode allows players to race their way through the ranks of AI controlled cars. Ghost mode lets players record their best runs to let friends see if they can go faster. Stunt mode uses the crazy physics engine to let players roll, flip, and tumble around the arena for the best scores possible. Finally, the battle mode is a great multiplayer mode that battles players against each other in deathmatch arenas. Overall, San Francisco Rush 2049 is a great addition to the package for fans of the arcade or Dreamcast originals.

The other San Francisco Rush game in this collection is San Francisco Rush: The Rock, which is essentially a track-pack update to the original Rush. Besides the addition of tracks, this version has a much higher framerate than the arcade original. The overall conversion is very well done, which is bad news for the multiplayer as there was no console-friendly multiplayer in the arcade. Cabinets were linked together in a network for multiplayer, so there is no multiplayer support for this game. Otherwise, the game is solid and a nice addition to the collection.

Another game where the arcade-based single player limitations mean there is no multiplayer support on this compilation is Off Road Thunder. An evolution of the hit Super Off Road and done in a similar fashion to Hydro Thunder, Off Road Thunder is a lot of fun. Without the option to face other humans, it does hinder the fun a little bit. The graphics do show its age a little, but it’s not a problem. Despite some limitations, Off Road Thunder is a good addition to this collection. Like the version of San Francisco Rush 2049 that was ported to this collection, Hydro Thunder is also a perfect port of the superior Dreamcast version. With 2-player multiplayer support, players with friends will have lots of fun here and when they are alone, they have the incredibly fun single-player game to enjoy. Though there's not as much depth to the game as Rush 2049 enjoys, Hydro Thunder is a great addition to the collection and it should please any racing fan.

Moving to the older games in the collection, the early 3D racing games of the collection include Race Drivin' and S.T.U.N. Runner. Race Drivin' is the runt of the litter in that it's the only simulation game of the collection. As the sequel to Hard Drivin', which appeared on the last Arcade Treasures collection, it's ported to this collection well, but it may not be the emulation that's the problem. It's a very hit-or-miss game that you either enjoy or hate. I found the controls to be loose and the visuals a little distracting to making the racing better. This is the only real miss on the collection. S.T.U.N. Runner isn't really much of a racer, but more of a shooter in racing clothes. This game is based of the same engine as Race Drivin', but is more successful at being enjoyable to play. The player is tasked with racing against the clock while having to shoot and dodge other vehicles and collect stars and hit boost pads to pass each level.

The last three games are very much similar to one another as they are all top down racers. Super Off Road is the highlight of this bunch with off road trucks racing on dirt and sand tracks with various obstacles that test the player’s skills to finish first. The controls are a little floaty without the original arcade wheels, but there's still plenty of fun to be had. The Super Off Road Track Pak is the same as Super Off Road, but with more tracks to choose from and a selectable Dune Buggy to use. Badlands takes place 50 years after a nuclear disaster where weapon-based sprint racing has become popular. This is street-based racing taking place on various tracks where opponents have missiles and guns to shoot at each other. It also suffers from the lack of a wheel with floaty controls, but it still a fun game. Multiplayer is available on all three games with the action taking place on the same screen. The conversions of the arcade game came through perfectly and there's a lot of fun to be had here if you can handle the spotty controls.

San Francisco Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder are definitely the highlights of the compilation with perfect ports from their excellent Dreamcast versions. With a selection of racers to cover the 2D, early and late 3D eras, there should be at least a few games that any racing fan will enjoy here. For $20, this collection is well worth the asking price.
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