(GameCube)

Game Review

Midway Arcade Treasures Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

Experience some of America's arcade masterpieces

The history of Midway Home Entertainment is a convoluted story of boom and bust that includes the most famous names in the index of America's arcade companies. Williams Electronics and Midway merged in the 1990s to create WMS Industries in a bid to remain competitive in a market seeing the rapid decline of the video arcades that were still the core business for both companies. Following the purchase of Time Warner Interactive (formerly Atari Games, the arcade remnant of the original Atari after Time Warner sold off the home console business to Jack Tramiel as Atari Corp.) towards the end of decade, the company became known as Midway Home Entertainment and possessed practically the whole of American arcade gaming in its IP portfolio.

Like Namco, Midway was quick to exploit the success of the Sony Playstation, and the nostalgia of the mature gamers who were buying it, by putting out a series of "Greatest Hits" collections with arcade titles from Williams Electronics, Bally Midway and Atari Games spanning the "golden age" from the 80s to the early 90s. Like Namco's Museum series, they included media assets like concept art and promotional flyers, but they did Namco one better by including video interviews with the creators of seminal classics like Defender, Robotron 2084, Joust, Battlezone, Asteroids and Centipede. Combined with excellent emulation (which, in some cases, included the original operator interfaces) and fully customisable controls supporting a variety of peripherals, they were a celebratedion of the company's arcade origins.

During the following console era, Midway's fortunes started to fade. Games in development were being cancelled due to falling profits; in a bid to save the company, all arcade divisions, including the former Atari Games (now renamed Midway Entertainment West) and the pinball production arms, were shut down. It marked the end of an American presence in video arcades. Refocused on console gaming, Midway was more than willing to trot out classic IP again, and the best of the three collections to appear on PS2, Xbox and Gamecube was the first: Midway Arcade Treasures, a collection bursting at the seams with the very best titles from Williams Electronics and a decent share of games from the Bally Midway and Atari Games portfolios.

The main menu has an Egyptian theme following a journey down into the depths of a virtual pyramid, with each game having a hieroglyphic representing it. Confusingly, the control stick isn't used to choose between games; only the D-pad does. Highlighting the icon for a game results in a shimmering display of the game's attract mode in the centre of the screen. You can then launch the selected game, change settings for it or view its extras. Unlike Namco's 50th Anniversary Museum, Midway was kind enough to include all the assets from the original Playstation collections in this one; among them images, history and video interviews. Sadly, no extra expense was made for new content, so any game lacking extra content in the original Playstation collections won't have any here. The videos are still in their original MPEG-1 video format, though the audio quality is cleaned up a bit. For folk who might have had the games on the Playstation, it's nice to know you're not missing out on anything with the Gamecube release.

As stated, there is an impressive array of games on offer: Defender, Defender II (nee Stargate), Joust, Joust 2, Sinistar, Bubbles, Robotron 2084, Blaster, Smash TV, Splat!, Satan's Hollow, Rampage, Root Beer Tapper (the kid-friendly version of Tapper), Spy Hunter, 720°, Klax, Rampart, Marble Madness, Toobin', Super Sprint, Vindicators, Gauntlet, Paperboy and Road Blasters comprise the full list. All of them are faithfully recreated and have customisable controls — though within the limitations of the Gamecube controller, which is the biggest weakness of this release. Super Sprint is the worst-playing game in the collection with extremely poor controls stemming from a lousy adaptation of the arcade steering wheel to an analogue joystick — it simply doesn't provide the tight turning required and needed a bit more work, or better still a wheel peripheral. The use of the control stick in place of a trackball for Marble Madness is surprisingly not that bad as the marble still has the same floaty feeling, even if an analogue thumbstick is a radically different interface from the trackball used in the arcade. The rest of the games on offer work much better, though given some of them use two joysticks and the button layout of the Gamecube controller can be awkward for multi-button games, you'll have a better experience using the Wii Classic Controller or a Playstation controller (blasphemy!) via an adapter like the Classic Linker.

Game options are easily navigated and allow adjustments to difficulty, number of lives and points required for bonus lives. Controller configuration is shown on the screen prior to game start — handy in case you forget! The range of control options is quite impressive: players can not only remap buttons as they see fit, but also choose from a variety of movement inputs. Paperboy allows for analogue speed control via up/down on the control stick or C-stick, but it can also be mapped to up-down on the D-pad or a simple button press. The marble in Marble Madness can be moved using D-pad, control stick, C-stick or even having input accepted from both analogue sticks at once (shame the Gamecube lacked a mouse/trackball or it doubtless would have been included as an option). High scores are auto-saved after a game completes by exiting using the Z button — great for pursuing that world record, though you cannot save mid-game (at least you can pause for bathroom breaks, unlike the arcade).

Strange in their omission are the early Atari Games titles like Missile Command, Tempest and others; especially since Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection, Volume 1 was published by Midway on Playstation and N64. That collection was possible due to the legacy of the division of the original Atari by Time Warner, with the pre-split arcade IP being jointly owned by Atari Games and Atari Corp. The Atari Anniversary Collection later published by Infogrames (sadly never released on Gamecube) includes the titles from Midway's release; it may be that the oldest IP ended up with Infogrames exclusively via a deal between the two companies.

Most disappointing for Gamecube- and Wii-owning retro gamers in PAL territories is that despite PAL releases of the PS2 and Xbox editions of Midway Arcade Treasures, the Gamecube version was mysteriously only released in North America. Rest assured, it is an import-friendly title (if you have the means/desire to do so), though the later two volumes (focused more on fighting games and driving games, respectively) are not.

Conclusion

Midway Arcade Treasures on Gamecube marks the first time these classics have appeared with the full set of extras on a Nintendo console. It may be the only (official) way of playing these arcade greats on the Wii for some time — depending on Time Warner Interactive's intentions regarding IP from the recently-acquired remains of Midway Home Entertainment. It's still a fine set of games and a great slice of arcade history; even if some of them don't come off that well due to the limitations of the Gamecube controller. If you can get it do pick it up!

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User Comments (41)

JaredJ

#2

JaredJ said:

I own Midway Arcade Treasures 1 & 2 for Gamecube and love them both.

Turbo_Genesis_64

#3

Turbo_Genesis_64 said:

"Roadblasters" is my favorite arcade game of all time. It's my "Defender."

I have no real complaints with this disc.

sirgrim

#4

sirgrim said:

Smash TV 10/10. The entire title is worth it for the arcade version of that.

CorbsAdmin

#5

Corbs said:

I love these old arcade games. I used to spend hours playing Marble Madness at the mall arcade while my family shopped. Ahh the memories.

Turbo_Genesis_64

#6

Turbo_Genesis_64 said:

I prefered it more when Atari was the face of American video games instead of Microsoft with their broken systems and greedy practices.

JamieOStaff

#7

JamieO said:

Cheers Sean, this is the 2nd of your retro GCN collection reviews that I've read in a week (see Namco Museum 50th Anniversary). Thanks for the intro history on Midway Home Entertainment, too. This explains their reasoning to be the first company to really present retro gamers with a "jam-packed" collection, (Midway Arcade Treasures had about 24 titles). I remember thinking "back of the net!", when I imported this on my US GCN, back in 2003.
Highlights for me were Paperboy, Gauntlet, Roadblasters, Toobin' and Rampage. The Smash TV announcer still cracks me up and the Paperboy tune fills me with nostalgia.
I really wanted to love 720 degrees, but I suck at it and I lose at that game so often, it hurts (damn bees).
Its a shame about the lack of a UK release, PAL PS2/Xbox owners could pick this up for about £4 in game shops today (17p a game, bargain).
I like Midway Arcade Treasures 2 & 3 as well, especially no.2 which represents the late '80s to early '90s arcade era really well.
However, I will wait for the Nintendo Life review of those, before I write my comments.

Adamant

#8

Adamant said:

Amazing collection, this, with tons of great classics, as well as a couple great games I hadn't even heard of before. Bubbles is absolutely brilliant.

Should be mentioned that 720 has control issues, too. The arcade game was controlled with this weird "joy-disc" that didn't have a neutral position, but would always point in one direction. This can, logically enough, not be emulated very well with... any controller ever produced, really. The game is relatively playable, but it's still a notable problem.

Sean_Aaron

#9

Sean_Aaron said:

I thought that 720 was okay with the analogue stick, but I have to confess I wasn't the greatest fan of the arcade game so thanks for pointing it out!

Unfortunately Vols 2&3 won't work with freeloader or Gecko OS (they boot, but the actual games won't start, so you just get a bunch of extras). Unless you've got a chipped machine (and the NTSC on PAL Gamecube results in a mis-framed screen that displeases) you need a more serious softmod than I'm willing to do or an import Wii/Gamecube. I think two is the maximum number of Wiis my marriage will presently allow!

Sooooo, if someone else wants to review them? I will say that the Wizard of Wor conversion on Volume 2 is a real disappointment and I'm not a big fighting game fan so Volume 2 does have games I like, but not that many (where oh where was Domino Man?!?) and Volume 3 is racing games some of which push the limits of the Gamecube.

I'm really hoping Warner Bros. and Atari treat us with some more compilations to cover the stuff that's never seen a quality release on a Nintendo system.

JamieOStaff

#10

JamieO said:

@Sean Aaron (comment 9).
I am new to Nintendo Life, so I am not sure how your comment "if someone else wants to review them?" works.
I presume that you are referring to another member of the Nintendo Life team, not for a user to review them.
I write for an iPhone gaming site, so it would be possible to link to a review on my blog. This may not be "good practise" though, as it would basically be tenuous plug for our iPhone site, through your far larger, established, popular and successful Nintendo Life. I can play both Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and 3 on either my import Gamecube or Wii. I would be up for writing a review, especially of no.2 (how I would explain a GCN review on an iPhone blog, I don’t know!). Anything I write is on a voluntary basis, wherever it is posted. I do not take any payment for my iPhone reviews.
You may even mean for a user to post a short review on this comments board (I noticed that a user posted up their short, fan based perspective review of Gradius Rebirth).
I realise that you do not mean to submit a review to Nintendo Life and I understand that Nintendo Life have a big staff team and do not need any new writers.

Rawk_Hawk

#11

Rawk_Hawk said:

There are some terrrific games on this collection. One that may get overlooked is Rampart which is a blast with 2 players. Don't miss that one. I also enjoy Toobin, Super Sprint, Spy Hunter, Smash TV, and one of the biggies on the collection Paperboy. Paperboy will never get old IMO.

Sean_Aaron

#12

Sean_Aaron said:

@JamieO: I meant another reviewer on staff. We do periodically have openings advertised on the site so if you're interested keep an eye out for that. I'm sure if you wanted to review the other ones on your blog and link to them in the comments there would be no objections.

ueI

#13

ueI said:

I still have the gameboy paperboy and I still don't really like it.

Other_DaveStaff

#14

Other_Dave said:

There was a trick to getting Volume 2 to work on a PAL Gamecube with freeloader - it may have worked for volume 3 as well but I never had it so... dunno.

Anyway I sold my cube before getting a Wii and an early system update rendered the freeloader useless which is very irritating.

JamieOStaff

#16

JamieO said:

@Sean Aaron (comment 12) That is cool mate, I did figure your comment was meant for the staff. I was just thinking that I had copies of both games and the hardware to play them on, sitting at home.
I noticed you have a 'Join The Team' link and it is clear that you’re “not currently looking for any new staff at present”.
I’ve been reading the Nintendo Life coverage for a while, I followed the progress of Virtual Console Reviews and its amalgamation with the current site. I particularly like to read all of the retro coverage, whether in the Retro, Virtual Console or WiiWare sections. However, until now I have been a passive bystander, just reading the information and not joining in on comments/forums etc.
I am actually really enjoying participating in discussions, writing comments and having little chats with all the Nintendo Life users and staff. There is definitely a lot of clued up, friendly and knowledgeable gamers following your site. You have all built a solid community and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Thank you @Panda (comment 15), I plan on heading over to the forums soon.
Cheers for your reply Sean and thanks to everyone at Nintendo Life :)

Sean_Aaron

#17

Sean_Aaron said:

Glad to have new folks aboard Jamie, I hope you'll contribute to the forum and other article comments as well!

Ren

#19

Ren said:

Great review. This brings back some great memories and some sad histories. Ironic that today I waited in line at "Hot Dougs" in Chicago thats famous for it's exotic meats which is across the street from what was the last Midway headquarters until it went under just... late last year? You can still see the dust under the old Midway lettering on the building.
Anyway, Paperboy and smash TV killed a lot of my quarters as a kid and even the SNES smash TV itself is really a classic. Joust, Rampart, Klax. This seems like a long term time killer for me, I need to find me a copy and retire to a quiet hole somewhere. Thanks Sean, good lookin' out!

#20

said:

I hope WB release some of these classic Midway games on the VCA. Along with the Mortal Kombat games ^^

The_Fox

#21

The_Fox said:

Awesome collection. As has been said, 720 is a bit of a pain in the ass to control, though.

Slapshot

#22

Slapshot said:

;) I just bought this on PSP last week for the MK trilogy. Love the old MK games because there is no insane combo systems involved. I like the old fighting games better than the new ones.

timp29

#23

timp29 said:

Sucks that this disc isn't an option for PAL territories.
Paperboy, SmashTV, Spy Hunter...

I was a click away from ebay until I read that last paragraph :(

WanderFan91

#25

WanderFan91 said:

I love classic arcade games. :) I'm enamored with Bubbles and Paperboy, as well as Root Beer Tapper. Marble Madness is hard, but the rest of the collection is good.

WanderFan91

#28

WanderFan91 said:

@JJ
Yeah, that would've been nice, as well as the Sega Genesis Collection. But seeing as I have both compilations on the PSP, I have nothing to worry about. Still, the GameCube versions I would've appreciated, if Capcom and Sega even thought about it. No offense!

JamieOStaff

#29

JamieO said:

PS2 has some absolutely amazing retro arcade collections.
If you do not own a PS2, I would seriously buy one cheap if you're a retro fan, just to play 'Taito Legends 1 '(Continental Circus, New Zealand Story, Ninja Kids, Rainbow Islands, I even play Thunderfox). The lightgun shooters Operation Wolf/Thunderbolt are fairly fun even though they are pad control only.
I would particularly purchase a copy of 'Taito Legends 2' (Darius Gaiden, Don Doko Don, Gekirindan, even Growl and especially the awesome Elevator Action Returns). Nt. PSP has a slightly more basic 'Taito Legends' available for import from Japan, too.
I know that this is a Nintendo site, so if Taito ever decided to release a collection on Wii, then combining the brilliance of the two PS2 compilations would be a super, smashing, great li'l idea.

WanderFan91

#30

WanderFan91 said:

Well, lately I'm considering trading a PS1 for a PS2. Sure, I may not have the gray block anymore, but at least I would still have my games (at least the NTSC games I bought living in America). All the more reason to try the original Kingdom Hearts again. ;)

JamieOStaff

#31

JamieO said:

@StarBoy91 There are plenty of PS2 retro style goodies available, as I am sure you know.
I often boot up Gradius III, IV & V, R-Type Final, Psyvariar, Steel Dragon X, Raiden III, Sol Divide, SNK vs Capcom Chaos, 1945 I & II, Guilty Gear X2 & Isuka, Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, Sonic Gems, Outrun 2006, Gunbird SE, World Heroes/KOF/Art of Fighting/Fatal Fury collections, Robocod, Crazy Taxi etc etc
These PAL titles were all bought so cheap, I felt bad that the shops were letting these classic go at such a discount, based upon their own understanding of what value a retro titles hold.
Some UK gaming shops have no idea about what some gamers view as classic games.
The Wii will build a similar base of retro classics over time, it already has a stunning variety of downloads and I hope that disc based compilations continue too (ie. Metal Slug Anthology, SNK Arcade Classics, the proposed Data East collection etc).
Regardless, there is a downpour of wonderment for retro gamers at the moment.
"I'm singing in the rain" :)

Sean_Aaron

#32

Sean_Aaron said:

The fact that the PS2/PS1 had so many of these retro collection does make the idea of getting one somewhat tempting, but I'm confident in time the Wii will rival that (besides I cannot face trying to track down Nichibutsu Arcade Classics for the PS1 again!) -- otherwise I've got MAME!

JamieOStaff

#33

JamieO said:

I agree Sean, no doubt about it, MAME is completely awesome as well. Especially to play licensed games that may never seen the light of day without some publisher & big business deals and wrangling.
I am particularly a fan of Chase HQ and Konami's Simpsons Arcade and Aliens.
Also when TMNT Arcade and Turtles in Time were emulated to GCN, they had to remove the original, boppy tune, just like Taito Rainbow Islands lost "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" remix on Taito Legends.
Then again, I would not mind too much if Virtual Console Arcade received an arcade version of Chase HQ, which removed the real cars. If Taito are listening, I would definitely buy it.
Licensing and copyright eh, messing about with our memories!

JamieOStaff

#34

JamieO said:

I should add to my above comment that if any publishers are listening, I do love MAME, but I would be much happier if I was buying all of the Arcade titles I mentioned. I would snap them up if they were available to download or on retro compilation. Publishers/Devs created all of the gaming fun, so I would rather pay to play it.
For me, emulation is the last place I visit, when I am chasing gaming memories and there is no where else I can find them.
I realistically can not afford arcade cabs, pcbs, supergun etc. Also my girlfriend is already not exactly over the moon that our poxy little flat (I love it really) is already brimming with consoles, computers, game boxes, peripherals etc. lol

Crunc

#35

Crunc said:

There are some great games on here. My problem with this and many other collections is that it includes both kid-friendly games like Root Beer Tapper (specifically a kid-friendly variant) and yet has games such as Smash TV. I can't give this to my kids without saying that they aren't allowed to play certain games on it, but realistically speaking they are going to be enchanted with that forbidden game that is just begging them to play it. Why didn't they put out two collections, one with exclusively E-rated content and then one with exclusively T+ rated content?

Sean_Aaron

#36

Sean_Aaron said:

@Crunc: Good point -- kind of funny putting Root Beer Tapper on there with Smash TV! Volume 2 has the kid-friendly Wacko and Timber games alongside Mortal Kombat and NARC!

@JamieO: I agree completely and am happy to buy the VCA versions of games on the Wii for the big screen experience that I cannot get presently with MAME. Aside from faster load times and simpler game setting changes in the VCA emulation or collections like Arcade Treasures, you also get much better controls on the whole than with MAME because MAME has to cover the gamut. Take Assault for example: The Classic Controller (Wii VCA) and Namco Museum use of the Playstation controller are both far superior to any joypad I've used on my Mac simply because it's tailored for it. As I'm able to purchase these games now I'm removing them from my MAME collection which is a nice thing.

JamieOStaff

#37

JamieO said:

@Sean Aaron: In an ideal world, some millionaire genius would open a huge chain of video game arcades in the UK with tons of classic and mint retro cabinets, so that everyone like us could head over there and play games just like the old days. There has to be a "business" there somewhere, they could charge 30p a go and still get loads of visitors (I know that I'm dreaming).
I went for a weekend at Southport and the seaside arcade was rammed with fruit machines, metal claws to gap prizes, ten pence waterfalls etc (although, me and my girlfriend had fun on the Air Hockey table!). It was massive, but only had about 10 arcade machines. The most nostalgic sit down cabinet in Southport, was Namco's Lucky & Wild.
@Crunc: I've never thought about retro compilations from that perspective, I remember when I was a kid there was an arcade that put the more adult content video games machines next to the gambling machines and you had to be 18 to go into that section.
On Midway Arcade Treasures 2, NARC is even more inappropriate for a kid than Smash TV (e.g. drug references as well as exploding bodies).

Ste

#41

Ste said:

I have a wii, would this work with the classic controller or does it have to be a GC controller?

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