Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play (PSP)


By Michael Palisano

When it comes to creating a compilation of classic games for the PSP, Midway has done a decent job converting some of their legendary titles to the portable console. Featuring more than 20 classics ranging from Defender to Mortal Kombat 3, the game offers a broad cross-section of classic titles, may of which are online-enabled for multiplayer action. The presentation is somewhat erratic, with most converted perfectly while others suffer from bad aliasing and poor sounds. The games themselves are still highly enjoyable for the most part with generally decent emulation, making this a solid purchase for gamers who want to play their favorites on the go.

Looking at the lineup of titles included in Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play, you'll see a good selection of titles spanning about a decade of gaming. The titles range from early 80's classics like Defender and Wizard of Wor to games like Marble Madness and Paperboy to obscure games like Toobin and Klax. The compilation also includes the entire Mortal Kombat trilogy, which has been faithfully recreated on the console, though not flawlessly. There's a little something for everyone in this package, which should appeal to nostalgic gamers of different ages and genres. The games themselves have largely held up nicely, though a few like Arch Rivals and Xenophobe feel a bit dated these days. The vast majority of games can be played either solo or online using the PSP's wi-fi feature, which is a big plus. However, you can't transfer the games to another PSP owner, meaning both players need to have the game in order to play. The good news is that the games are relatively inexpensive if you divide the number of titles by the retail price. Given their proven replay value, the overall package offers a good value.

Most of the titles should be familiar to classic gamers, with games like Defender, Joust and Sinistar needing no introduction. These three titles look fantastic on the PSP's screen, though you might want to toggle Sinistar's default mode to a wide screen presentation, since its very hard to play with the default smaller screen. Those who were disappointed by Wizard of Wor's much too fast emulation on the consoles in MAT2 will be happy to know that these problems have been corrected, and the game now plays at the proper speed with its signature gothic music and creepy computerized voice samples very much intact. WOW has also been updated to allow for multiplayer wi-fi play, and is still as addictive and exciting as ever. Extended Play's version of Spy Hunter is decent as well, though it seems that the controls are a little bit more sensitive, making the game slightly difficult to play. Adding to the package, Gauntlet allows you to relive the excitement of the first multiplayer dungeon crawl. Playing alone is fun, but the gameplay really comes alive with the added addition of wi-fi play as well. Championship Sprint is another classic, this time based on the classic racing series, remaining as addictive and challenging as always. Midway has also included a few lesser known games as well, with the under-rated Rampart adding a slightly different type of gameplay to the proceedings. It's an arcade style strategic warfare title that's surprisingly easy to play and fun, though its slow pacing and complicated structure will probably turn off some players, this has always been a favorite and is definitely worth checking out. .

The destructive fun of Rampage also makes an appearance here, with the same group of monsters you loved back in the day returning once again to wreak havoc on cities and skyscrapers throughout the world, fighting off army men and their helicopters as well. The original Spy Hunter also makes a welcome appearance, though the controls are a bit awkward and take some getting used to, which for a somewhat disappointing translation. Once you warm up to it, you'll be humming the Peter Gunn theme, docking with your weapons van and morphing into a speed-boat just like old times. The addictive Marble Madness is also included, and it too has somewhat touchy controls that make rolling the ball a bit harder than you want it to be. While it's tempting to use the d-pad initially, you'll actually get better performance with the analog nub after some practice, and the game's simple charm hasn't really worn off much in these past twenty years or so. Another simple yet addictive game here is Paperboy, which translates almost perfectly to the PSP's screen in size, while the gameplay's short bursts and levels make it an ideal game for portable play. One of the biggest surprises on the package is the addictive racing game Toobin' which offers a surprisingly enjoyable game that's easy to understand and play thanks to its superb controls. Adding a second player makes this ride down the river even more fun, and the full screen approach in this one makes this even more enjoyable.

Sadly, not all of the games on this pack are winners, and there are actually a couple of duds that haven't aged well. The basketball title Arch Rivals is a decent game, but its simplistic play mechanics and sprite based graphics are fairly ugly by today's standards. Add in sluggish play and poor controls and you have an exercise in frustration. Cyberball 2072 is nother disappointing sports title that riffs on football, but quickly loses its appeal thanks to the limited number of plays and somewhat dull presentation. Klax was obviously inspired by Tetris and while its simple play is appealing for a short burst, its extended value is dubious since repetition sets in quickly, making this more an endurance test than anything else. While these games aren't that endearing, there are a couple of hidden classics, like Xenophobe and Xybots which make up for it. Xenophobe is a surprisingly engaging side-scroller where you have to destroy all the alien forces infesting your ship before the timer runs out, which adds tension to the game. The first-person shooter Xybots is interesting as a game, and also as a historical title since it anticipated the look feel and approach of games like Doom which wouldn't come along until several years later.

Considering the fact that Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play includes a divergent group of titles from completely different eras and genres, its understandable that the inconsistency of the package's emulation makes some of the games more appealing than others. Still, it's baffling how beautifully Wizard of Wor's full-screen approach contrasts with the squashed, truncated screen of Sinistar. The worst offenders in the package are the three Mortal Kombat games, the latter two games suffer from excessive load times, miscued music and other glitches that take some of the shine off the overall package. It's not outlined in the manual, but you can change the screen size of some of the games, which is a great relief after you see the squashed up screens of some of the titles like Sinistar initially. However, the fact that you can't rotate some of the vertically oriented titles to fill the PSP's screen is also disappointing, especially when you compare it to Namco's PSP collection released a few months ago. There's also a lack of extra features such as documentaries and artwork which these collections usually features, which is another disappointment. However, if you can overlook these problems, there's still plenty of fun to be had rediscovering the charm in hidden gems like Rampage and Xybots once again. While Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play isn't a flawless compilation by any means, its faults are mitigated by the fact that most of the non-MK titles are emulated decently, making it a good value for PSP owners looking for some classic gaming in the palm of their hands.

Grade: C+

> Related Reviews

Namco Museum Battle Collection (PSP)
Midway Arcade Treasures 1 (PS2)
Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (PS2)
Midway Arcade Treasures 3 (PS2)

Atari Anthology (PS2)
Namco Museum (PS2)

Back to Main Page