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Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (GameCube) artwork

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (GameCube) review

"But Midway Arcade Treasures 2 wasn’t content to burn my memories to ashes and let them fly off in the wind; no, it had to let them smolder first. It doesn’t just include the one Midway game I liked as a kid, it includes all the ones I hated and all the ones I’ve never heard of, too. "

Pit Fighter holds a very special place in my heart. I can still see it in the corners of my memory, one of the farthest, fondest tidbits from my younger years.

Did you love the engaging characters and deep storylines?

No. The game is just about three guys with rippling chests and blue pants fighting up the ranks to eventually meet the champ, a warrior with a mask known as…the Masked Warrior.

Was it the incredible graphics?

Nah. The audience looks like a bunch of dancing paper cutouts, and the fighters have about five animations total. Walk, punch, kick, jump, and fall down.

Then it must have been the gameplay, right?

Hell no. It’s just a matter of walking up to the opponent, hitting the kick button as fast as you can, and hoping his life meter runs out before yours. It’s the gaming equivalent of a sissy fight. You can pick up objects and throw them, but since you and your opponent walk-and walking is the only way you can move-at exactly the same speed, getting enough distance to pick up something and not get slapped is a bit of a challenge.

So why, then?

Elementary: Because you fight a dominatrix on the third level. And when you’re not even old enough to spell the word ‘sex’….well…that sort of thing appeals to you.

I bought Midway Arcade Treasures 2 for the sole purpose of playing Pit Fighter and taking a stroll down memory lane. Instead, that stroll turned into a drunken stumble, as I realized something I couldn’t realize thirteen years ago: It sucked.

But Midway Arcade Treasures 2 wasn’t content to burn my memories to ashes and let them fly off in the wind; no, it had to let them smolder first. It doesn’t just include the one Midway game I liked as a kid, it includes all the ones I hated and all the ones I’ve never heard of, too.

All NINETEEN of them.

At the top of the crap heap sits Mortal Kombat, II and III. Now, no offense to people who like Mortal Kombat. I’m sure you’re fine people who live normal, perhaps woman-free, lives. I just think you have horrible taste in videogames, that’s all.

The characters are ugly; they look like someone took a bunch of pictures and strung them together for each ‘animation’. Variety? Almost nonexistent; the characters may look different, but they share many of the same basic attacks. And while that fatality and babitality and animality stuff might have been cute before the puberty fairy came to visit me, I’ve seen violence done in much more creative ways since then. Its age shows.

Oh, and Primal Rage? Mortal Kombat with dinosaurs, more or less. Just as lame.

Rampage gives out some fun; wrecking havoc on the masses is always a blast. Problem is, it gets repetitive…fast. Once you’ve knocked down one skyscraper, you’ve knocked down them all. Once you’ve kicked one human across the city, you’ve kicked them all. It’s just the same thing…run…jump…kick…smash…eat…fun for about ten minutes.

Now, NARC…I had some fun with NARC. It’s a simple run-and-gun; you walk through the streets, holding the fire button and mowing down waves of identical drug dealers. Nothing special, but it was stupid fun….

…until the dogs came. For some reason, dogs really…REALLY…hate you in this game. They’ll attack you in packs, and since your normal range of fire is above their heads, you have to duck to hit them, which usually gives them enough time to take a sizeable bite out of you. They’re annoying as hell, and they appear just often enough to suck the fun out of things.

Plus, when you shoot them, they turn into puppies and run away. Not sure how that works.

There’s a few sports games here, too: Arch Rival and Cyberball 2072. Arch Rivals is just a basketball game…except it’s two-on-two, the cheerleaders are god-ugly, and you can punch your opponents without fear of foul. So not much like basketball at all. Cyberball 2072 is just a football game…except you play with robots, you always start near the endzone, and the computer does a sucky job of stopping you from a touchdown. So not much like football at all.

I don’t like sports games. These two didn’t do anything to change that.

Despite my qualms with Midway, I do give them credit for creating my favorite racing game of all time: San Francisco Rush. Rush isn’t dated enough to be on this disk, but there is some racing to be found, plenty of chances to put the pedal to the metal and the rubber to the road. One might expect these games to play like the granddaddies or Rush. One might expect wrong.

Spy Hunter II has the same formula of the original; you drive around, shooting enemies and dodging oil slicks. Trouble is, the sequel fixes you on a behind-the-car perspective, one that’s titled at just a bad enough angle to keep you from seeing the obstacles until the moment you’re right on top of them. Enemies blindside you, eighteen-wheelers smash you, you spend more time off road than on, and all because you can barely see more than five feet in front.

You won’t have that problem with Hard Drivin’, though. No, it’s got a whole new set of ways to piss you off. It puts you in a full 3-D world, full of moving blocks that some people with round things on the bottom that some people might interpret to be cars. The driving is good, solid…until you land from a jump. Then the car goes insane, swerving and veering, whipping you around while your opponents take the lead, probably laughing their 16-bit asses off.

APB and Championship Sprint are both top-down races, looking at things from a bird’s eye. The former puts you in the role of a cop chasing down litterbugs and other such menaces to society, the latter puts you in the oil-stained shoes of a grand prix racer, but they both have one major thing in common: They handle like crap.

It’s not their fault, I’ll be fair. You’re supposed to play them with an arcade stick, and while I think the Gamecube controller is a bit underrated, an arcade controller it is most definitely not. The smallest nudge to the analog stick and the cars go sprawling; the control is just too damn sensitive. Getting the cars to drive straight is hard, avoiding obstacles is next to impossible, and catching the bad guys or winning IS impossible.

Frustration abounds. So does the boredom.

Wacko. A little alien in a flying saucer hovers around and shoots an infinite horde of other aliens that are just walking around randomly, minding their own business. The gimmick? You have to shoot them in pairs, take one out and then take out their twin, or they won’t die. Woooooooo.

The enemies look stupid, you look stupid, the environment looks stupid, I felt stupid for playing it. Oh yeah, Kozmik Krooz’r is pretty much the same thing as Wacko. Only it’s in space. And you’re smaller. And all the enemies look the same. So it’s worse.

Wizards of Wor. You’re one of two spacemen in a Pac-Man styled maze filled with aliens. You compete to see who can score the most kills.

The mazes are cramped and crappy, you can only really shoot the aliens when they’re too close for comfort, and there’s this annoying, grating, repetitive, indecipherable robot voice that won’t shut up for five seconds.

Timber. You’re a lumberjack. You chop down trees. Bears throw beehives at you.

I don’t think I have to explain why a lumberjacking game is dumb.

Xenophobes and Xybots keep in tune with the ‘shoot everything that moves’ formula that so many of these games have. Each one’s got it’s own little thing going on; Xenophobe pits you in the a run-and-gun race to see who can kill the most aliens in the shortest amount of time and clear the space base, while Xybots has you doing essentially the same thing…only with a primitive third-person perspective in a faux 3-D world. I’d imagine it’s great fun to play with a friend; careening through corridors, mowing through monsters, tapping the buttons with thumb-numbing fury. But I don’t really know. I couldn’t convince any of my friends to play this over Battlefield 2. So, as it is, they’re lonely romps that get tiring before you even hit the third level.

At this point, I only had two hopes left for justifying my purchase: Gauntlet II and Total Carnage. Gauntlet II, because it’s a precursor to modern RPGs and probably the first 4 player co-op game ever made. Total Carnage, because…it’s called ‘Total Carnage’.

Gauntlet II let me down. It’s probably fun to play when you have three guys watching your back, but just like Xenophones and Xybots, it’s wasted when you’re alone. The enemies come in ridiculous amounts, filling up huge chunks of the screen, and while four players might be able to clear them out, you’ll be overwhelmed on your lonesome.

Total Carnage, however, met my expectations; it’s worthy of the title it bears. You take control of Captain Carnage or Major Mayhem and hit the blazing desert of Kookistan, going one-on-one million with General Akhboob’s mutant army.

I am not making this up.

It’s pretty hard to fault a game with a plot like that, but I almost managed; the enemies all looked like a bunch of guys with white t-shirts and blue jeans who were too stupid to use the guns in their hands. It’s easy to win a gunfight when no one’s shooting at you.

That changed, though. The farther I got, the more intense things became, but Total Carnage does more than up the challenge: It upped my arsenal, too. Bazookas, bombs, three-way shooting…everything needed for making noise and looking good. With tanks to smash up, hidden areas to find, reporters to save, and explosive devices to plant, things stay interesting for a long enough stint, making you want to keep playing just to find out what surprises the next level’s holding.

But, fun as Total Carnage can be, it still can’t make up for Midway Arcade Treasures 2 being 95% suck. It throws in a few nice touches; the viewable promo posters brought back fond memories, and the development videos show you how it was done in the olden days. It also features a difficulty setting that toggles off the infinite continues, which is perfect for gamers who haven’t mastered the fine art of NOT PRESSING START WHEN THE CONTINUE SCREEN COMES UP. It keeps track of your high scores, too; an obvious but appreciated feature. A game like this that doesn’t keep track of high scores…I feel sorry for the schmoe who’d play that.

But, you know, maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong angle. Maybe I have to take a step back in time, gaze on Midway Arcade Treasures 2 the way it was originally gazed, compare it to its competition from yesteryears and then cast judgment.

No, it still sucks.

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Staff review by Zack Little (November 14, 2005)

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