Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone




Midway's first compilation for the PS2, Arcade Treasures, includes more than 20 classic titles ranging from the early to late 1980's. The game's form a wide swath from the all-time classics such as Robotron: 2084 to more obscure releases such as Bubbles and Blaster. Arcade Treasures also includes interviews with the developers and archive materials to browse. At a bargain price, there's a lot of gameplay value here for fans of the classic era, with very most games having a timeless quality that makes for nearly infinite replay value. Join us as we explain why it's worth a look for classic arcade fans.

Midway has released many classic games compilations for various systems over the years and most have offered a decent selection of games. Arcade Treasures goes a step further than some previous comps and includes more than 20 different games. The games in this edition have all been emulated successfully for the most part. Some of the translations are better than others but most now include Analog support, something missing in the early PS1 emulator packs. Players will also find several titles that haven't appeared on any previous compilation, making it a good choice for die-hard fans. All of the classic games you'd expect are here with Joust, Defender, Defender II (AKA Stargate) making appearances. All of these titles have look fantastic, and have held up well over the years. Defender and its sequel are timeless shooters that set the bar high, with frenetic, primal action that are endlessly addictive. Their solid gameplay makes them something all subsequent titles have to live up to. Robotron: 2084's dual joystick controls translate nicely to the PS2 controller, and the addition of analog support definitely adds to the experience. Spy Hunter is still a great title, and the top-down action/racer looks fantastic on this compilation. These are definitely Arcade Treasures' marquee titles and these emulations don't disappoint, though some suffer from some low volumes at points.

Another landmark title is the classic Sinistar, with its ominous voice-synthesis that added tension to the already intense gameplay. This title has appeared in numerous compilations as well, but the PS2 version shines thanks to its analog support, which better reflects the freedom of movement that the original provided. Sinistar hasn't lost any of its urgency over the years and remains one of the most addictive and exciting video games ever made. For younger players who've never experienced it, this 20 year old title definitely lives up to its reputation. The classic shooting title Satan's Hollow has never appeared on an official compilation up to this point, and it's inclusion is a source of much happiness for classic fans. This multi-screen shooter mixed elements of Galaga/Galaxian with (for it's time) amazing boss confrontations. To reach these, you had to collect and connect pieces of a bridge, then cross the bridge, where you face a demonic, flame throwing boss. The play mechanics were definitely far ahead of their time, and the spine-tingling music, ominous backgrounds and fantastic design still make Satan's Hollow one of the best and most addictive games from the golden age of video games. Root Beer Tapper is another excellent choice for this collection, with its unique play mechanics, cool bonus rounds and constantly increasing complexity making for an addictive title. The light-hearted approach, decent music score and amusing graphics defines the cute-genre.

The compilation also includes its share of rarities and obscurities. The least well-known, and probably most obscure title is Joust II. This sequel added additional enemy types, and a wild Escher-themed design that made for a completely unique experience. Joust 2's other claim to fame was the ability it game players to transform their ostrich into a Pegasus style horse. This was a cool idea, and it's implementation was interesting. Joust 2 was definitely an odd-ball title, and while it didn't meet the success it deserved to thanks to the arcade crash, it's definitely worth checking out this quirky title if you haven't played it. Another weird title was the cute game Bubbles, which took place in a kitchen sink. It was definitely a product of the early 80's when game designers would try anything. Bubbles had addictive gameplay and was a lot of fun, mixing Robotron style action with an odd cleaning system. In the same vein, Midway's Splat is also included. This is a decent game, but the implementation wasn't as good as Atari's Food Fight a few years later. As a semi-sequel to Robotron, Blaster saw limited release. It's an interested experiment with early attempts at 3D. It featured multiple screens where you had to collect astronauts or fly threw gates shooting flying saucers. Blaster was definitely ahead of it's time and is impressive from a tech standpoint, but the average gameplay doesn't hold up as well as some of the other classics on this disc.

Arcade Treasures also includes many popular titles from the mid-80's including the legendary Paperboy. This was a unique title which implemented the isometric Zaxxon perspective in a while new way. It seems cute on the surface, but requires a great deal of dexterity since you have to avoid obstacles and make good throws. This is a surprisingly good game even now, and remains quite addictive. Few players who experienced it in the arcades are likely to forget the timeless Marble Madness with it's unique, innovative graphics and brilliant score, this deceptively simple game still looks great these days, and remains just as challenging. The emulation is decent but unfortunately, the PS2 controller is decent but can't adequately recreate the original's brilliant track ball controls. Still, this remains one of the most innovative designs ever attempted and its genius means its gameplay holds up well these days. A true landmark in gaming history was the appearance of Gauntlet, which pioneered multiplayer action. While the simple, top-down graphics seem a bit dated these days, Gauntlet's addictive gameplay and clever puzzles are still quite appealing, though most players these days are likely to use the warp-gates to get to the later and more challenging levels. Of course, most gamers are likely to remember the legendary Gauntlet sounds bites like "Warrior Needs food… Badly!" and "Green Wizard is about to Die!"

Moving forward in time, this PS2 compilation includes a group of late 80's almost-classics such as Roadblasters, Rampart and Rampage. Roadblasters was a decent racing game, though it seems a bit slow these days but had some interesting play mechanics and power-ups to keep players happy. The strategy/action game Rampart was decent, though it seems a bit too simple these days. Rampage was a cool game which placed you in the role of a movie monster, smashing buildings, hitting airplanes and even eating people. It's a fairly simple game, but is still a lot of fun. Players who can remember a time before Tony Hawk's Pro Skater probably have fond memories of 720 degrees, a surprisingly good skateboarding game that did an excellent job of recreating a skating feel. With it's large levels and non-linear structure, 720 was far ahead of its' time and remains an exciting and entertaining title. The puzzle game craze of the late 80's led to a lot of Tetris clones, most of which are better left forgotten. While Klax wasn't the most original game on the market, its unique stacking system and pattern-rewards system made for an addictive and challenging game that has stood up well over the past decade or so since its release.

The racing game Toobin' was a decent title, that challenged players to steer a character in a rubber tube down a stream, while avoiding obstacles. The game's clever control scheme is adequately reproduced using the PS2's shift buttons, and the simultaneous competition with another player makes for an exciting and fun game. Another solid entry is the tank combat title Vindicators, which had clever graphics and lots of action. Like Toobin', Vindicators had a unique control scheme where you could move each tank tread separately, though there's a lot more shooting as you try and defeat enemies. Based on Atari's classic 70's black and white racing title, Super Sprint takes the simple gameplay to the next level with power-ups, hidden paths and great animation that makes for an exciting and instantly accessible racing experience. One of the best titles on the compilation is Smash TV which was the unofficial sequel to Robotron and placed the action in a futuristic game show. The contestants were fighting for their lives, while adding numerous power-ups and extras. The connected rooms and boss confrontations definitely added to the experience. Once again, the dual shock controller works well at reproducing the arcade game's controls, but the PS2's emulation isn't perfect. Unfortunately, Smash TV suffers from significant slowdown in this emulation, which really hurts the gameplay and is highly disappointing.

Midway Arcade Treasures offers a broad selection of the company's biggest 80's hits, and offers some decent extras that should please gamers looking for more background information on some of these classic titles. Players can click on the history icon and see short films of the developers talking. These are all interesting and informative, but the video quality is a bit poor, since many of these interviews have been recycled from earlier compilations. This is disappointing and the small-sized grainy video windows make it difficult to see facial expressions and movements. There is also a gallery where you can view cabinet artwork, promotional flyers and informational text on the games. The information is interesting, but some games lack background information, particularly later releases, which is definitely disappointing. Still, the games are the main attractions, and while the sound quality on some games is disappointing, the visuals are much improved from the PS1 editions and take full advantage of the PS2's higher resolution with easier-to-read scores and text making for a much smoother look. Overall, Midway Arcade Treasures isn't without faults, but is still a solid compilation for the most part and definitely worth the money for nostalgic gamers.

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