Midway Arcade Treasures is, simply, the best arcade compiliation disc I've ever seen. Most of 'em--and here, I'm sort of casting a knowing, accusatory look in the vague direction of the Namco Museum series--consist of one unquestionably classic game, paired up with four or five mediocre or obscure ones. You're essentially paying twenty to fifty bucks for an arcade-perfect rendition of a game that, if you're really that big of a fan of it, you've already paid to own at least twice before, on as many consoles.
This is a whole 'nother thing, though. Midway Arcade Treasures is worth a look for its sheer volume alone; twenty-four games are packed into this disc.
Let's say that again for the people in the cheap seats: twenty-four.
Further, there's no dead weight. I was going to say that there was, but for every game I'd never heard of, there was someone I know who'd played the hell out of it as a kid. I guess the obscurity of the titles, or the lack thereof, depends on where you grew up, and if you spent any real time in arcades in the '80s and early '90s. The games on the disc are 720, Blaster, Bubbles, Defender, Defender II, Gauntlet, Joust, Joust II, Klax, Marble Madness, Paperboy, Rampage, Rampart, RoadBlasters, Robotron: 2084, Root Beer Tapper, Satan's Hollow, Sinistar, Smash TV, Splat!, the original SpyHunter, Super Sprint, Toobin', and Vindicators.
Personally, the games that make the disc for me are Smash TV and Rampage, but Marble Madness, Rampart, Gauntlet, and Root Beer Tapper have gotten some playtime. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
When you put Midway Arcade Treasures in, it boots up to a vaguely-animated Egyptian-esque title screen without much trouble. Choose one of the icons, and it'll boot up the title screen of the game in a couple of seconds. It's a nice gimmick, but admittedly, could've been thought through a little harder; it's hard to tell that you're looking at Sinistar, for example, and Defender's title screen takes a few seconds to appear.
Once you pick a game, you'll find that it controls fairly well, although some corners appear to have been cut. I may be misremembering the games, but a few games' color palettes are a little washed out, particularly Rampage and Smash TV. It's nothing that affects the gameplay, and both games are just as addictive as they ever were, but I do wonder what's up with that.
The only titles that have any serious control problems here are, sadly, Vindicators and 720. In the former title's case, it's set up so each tread of your tank is guided by one of the analogue sticks, which takes a lot of getting used to. Meanwhile, you're getting shot at and your fuel is constantly running out. It's not insurmountable, but the question is whether you think it's worth surmounting. I'd say "no," but I never liked Vindicators anyway.
Meanwhile, 720 was a trackball game. Trying to use it without a trackball is a good way to get frustrated.
It's almost impossible to cover all of these games in one review. More importantly, it's ridiculous to try. If you're interested in picking up this compliation, it's because of nostalgia, and as such, you've already played the hell out of them. You already know whether you like Defender, and don't need my opinion on the matter.
Newer gamers, on the other hand, won't find a lot to hold their attention here. Not all of the games on this disc have aged well; in the current console generation, there are minigames that look and play better than, say, Splat!, although they may lack that game's gleeful surreality. For them, Midway Arcade Treasures is more of a history lesson than a gaming package, designed for the express purpose of making old gamers feel older.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the games aren't fun. I've been test-driving Midway Arcade Treasures all week, on both hardcore and newbie gamers, and everyone finds something in it to get addicted to. Gauntlet, Rampage, Smash TV, and Rampart are as fun as they've ever been, and Root Beer Tapper is surprisingly difficult. Joust is still a twitch gamer festival, requiring the reflexes of a neurosurgeon, while Marble Madness has been a hit with the ladies. Throw Paperboy in there, and you've got a disc that's worth the purchase price all by itself.
Unfortunately, Midway Arcade Treasures's online connectivity is restricted to being able to upload your top scores to online leaderboards. This is a bit of a drag, since several of the multiplayer games would've been great online, such as Rampage, but it's nothing to get excited over.
I suppose an online multiplayer mode would probably wreck the feel of the game, though. You can't really play this game without thinking of the dark, sweat-filled arcades that're now long gone, or of those plastic-sheathed sitdown machines you still sometimes see in bars. Midway Arcade Treasures is like a time capsule, buried back when games were simple, and no less fun because of that. It's definitely worth picking up, if for no other reasons than sheer quantity and quality.