Reviewed on Xbox

Midway Arcade Treasures 2

Reviewed By: Phil Rownd (aka Boyward)

Computer Platform: Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation
Produced by: Midway
Price Range: $11-20
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Mature Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

Overall Rating:
Genre: Arcade
Christian Rating: 1 of 5
   (very offensive)
Gameplay: 3 of 5
Violence: 1 of 5
Adult Content: 2 of 5

Midway Arcade Treasures 2.  Illustration copyrighted.
My parents once feared that I'd turn into an arcade junkie: standing in a noisy, smoke-filled room warehouse, wasting whole rolls of quarters on games that rarely let a player survive for more than a minute before flashing that famous “Insert Coin” command. Today, the convenience of home console games has left the arcades gasping for funding and nearly dead. Unless, of course, you count arcade compilations like Midway Arcade Treasures 2, which brings 20 Atari and Midway arcade titles to your Xbox, Gamecube, or Playstation 2. This little disc comes with everything but the joystick and cigarette burns, for $20 worth of quarters. Each of the 20 selections is an exact port of its arcade brother, and each game features all the benefits of owning the arcade unit. For example, you can tweak the number of lives you're allowed and the level of gore shown. Additionally, each game features an extensive information database where you can reference nearly everything you'd ever want to know about the games on the disc. But what about the games themselves? This review will briefly examine each of the 20 games collected on the Midway Arcade Treasures 2 disc.

APB (1987, Driving, 1 Player). Players steer their police car around town and try to meet their ticket quota by pulling over lawbreakers. There is some mild violence, as well as drug references when your mission objective targets drug dealers for arrest.

ARCH RIVALS (1989, Sports, 2 Player Versus). Before NBA Street there was NBA Jam, and before that there was Arch Rivals- the original no-rules basketbrawl game. Players are encouraged to punch the ball carrier to regain possession. It's fun for a bit, but most players won't be entertained through even one full match.

CHAMPIONSHIP SPRINT (1986, Driving, 2 Players). Much like Micro-Machines games, players race their little car against 3 others on a small go-cart track. It's simple and fun in short bursts, though it's easier to control using a steering wheel. Nothing offensive.

CYBERBALL 2072 (1989, Sports, 2 Player Co-Op). Advertised as "the explosive sport of the 21st century", I found myself thankful that we don't actually have to watch this boring sport. The graphics stink, and the robot players look ridiculous rolling around on their tank treads. Gameplay is boring with only one “action” button put to use, and the playbook contains a whopping selection of FOUR plays! Thankfully, it's no more violent than your local peewee football league.

GAUNTLET II (1986, Action Adventure, 4 Player Co-Op). Players wander monster-infested mazes, collecting keys and using magic to shoot down ghosts and demons. It's not much fun as a single player game, but it becomes exponentially more entertaining as more players join in. Strangely, the female valkyrie fights in her bikini, and sports some cleavage in still shots.

HARD DRIVIN' (1989, Driving Simulator, 1 Player). The only racing game that actually requires players to “turn key to start” the car, Hard Drivin' was a true innovator. Its colorful polygonal graphics and realistic handling lend credence to its claim as a driving “simulator”, while its frequent jumps and loop-de-loops make the roads more interesting than driving in real life.

KOZMIK KROOZ'R (1982, Action Shooter, 2 Players Alternating). The graphics may be 16-bit quality, but the simplistic “shoot the aliens” gameplay holds this game back from innovating further than early Atari shooters like Asteroids and Galaga. Not much fun. A waste of disc space.

MORTAL KOMBAT II (1993, Fighting, 2 Player Versus). With the exception of flickering shadows, this is the first perfect port of the 2D fighter, Mortal Kombat II. This means that you're not just getting the original cast of 12 digitized characters with all of their easily executed and highly playable moves, but you're also getting all of the gore that made the series famous. Blood flows by the bucket-full, and there are numerous methods of “finishing” your opponents: punching them into spikes, ripping their arms off, even transforming into a dragon and eating their torso. Fortunately you can turn off the blood and gore, but even so you're left with gruesome and foreboding environments and characters who could give nightmares to sensitive gamers. Several characters engage in sorcery, lending the game a darkly supernatural feel. In response to the public's outrage at the violence of the first Mortal Kombat, the game pokes fun at itself by introducing new “friendship” fatalities where players do something nice to defeated foes. Adding further depth to this version of MK are the “babalities” where the loser can be transformed into a baby. There are numerous secrets to be unlocked and a sense of mystique that has won MKII general acceptance as the best Mortal Kombat of all time.

MORTAL KOMBAT 3 (1995, Fighting, 2 Player Versus). Increasing the number of playable characters from 12 to 15 only increases the potential for more carnage in the MK universe. The characters are slightly smaller than those of MKII, the environments are more urbane, and there is now a combo-counter and difficulty selector, but ultimately, MK3 is more of what we saw in MKII. As with MKII, the blood and gore can be turned off in the menu but it's still extremely violent.

NARC (1988, Action Shooter, 2 Player Co-Op). As a narcotics officer (NARC) out to stop drug dealers your goal is admirable, but its execution is atrocious. Players have the option of “busting” offenders with handcuffs, but the action is so intense that the only realistic option is to blow them up with a missile launcher or run them over with a car. One mission takes place in a red light district with prostitutes lined up outside the XXX theaters. Players can kill them too, and without consequence. When you use your missiles on enemies, arms and legs go flying in every direction. One of the bosses is a giant head that explodes in a bloody mess and then its exposed skull comes out to finish the fight. Whether or not NARC's over-the-top violence was meant to be funny, I can't say. But I know I'm not laughing. Absolutely tasteless from beginning to end, NARC is the trashiest game on the disc.

PIT-FIGHTER (1990, Fighting, 3 Player Co-Op). And I used to think this was fun?! Pit-Fighter was originally welcomed to the arcades as one of the first games to feature digitized actors. So basically what we have here are some slightly realistic-looking sweaty guys kicking and punching and jumping around like idiots. With its 3 selectable characters, Pit-Fighter is a bloody and brainless waste of time.

PRIMAL RAGE (1994, Fighting, 2 Player Versus). A meteor has slammed into Earth demolishing modern civiliation and inexplicably bringing to life the “draconians”, a bunch of animated claymation dinosaurs and gorillas. "Who will rule the new urth?" is the big question, as these beast chomp each other up in yet another variation on the 2D fighting genre. Since it came out right after Jurassic Park the dino theme was well-received at its release, but today its sluggish gameplay and jittery animation don't hold up well at all. It's also a fairly bloody game, and players are encouraged to eat villagers to regain health. Even worse, the villagers offer themselves as food, because they believe the dinos are gods. A small cast of only 7 playable characters doesn't help matters.

RAMPAGE WORLD TOUR (1997, Action, 3 Player Co-Op). The youngest game on the Treasures 2 disc, Rampage is a rather enjoyable (if shallow) celebration of destruction. Rampage World Tour has players assume control of a giant ape, lizard, or rat, and terrorize real-world cities. The cartoony art style keeps the violence from getting too objectionable, but there are couple of red flags. Players can eat soldiers and civilians alive, and the whole point of the game is to completely demolish the play area, including peoples' houses. Silly, shallow, and violent, Rampage World Tour is appropriate for teens.

SPY HUNTER II (1987, Driving, 2 Player Co-Op). This vertically scrolling shooter gives players control of a spy car with typical gadgets like rockets and oil slicks. It's fun for a while, but it's been done better so many times since it came out in the late 80's that it probably won't hold your interest for long. It's moderately violent as players can shoot bad guys off the road, but it's all done in a cartoony style. The best thing about Spy Hunter II is the presence of the Peter Gunn theme music, but the samples are so muted that they can barely be heard.

TIMBER (1984, Action, 2 Player Versus). You're a lumberjack who must topple trees without getting clobbered by bee hives. It's cute, inoffensive, and fun in short bursts.

TOTAL CARNAGE (1991, Action Shooter, 2 Player Co-Op). This sequel to Smash TV is even bloodier and continues to portray women as big-breasted bimbos. But players who dive in anyway will no doubt enjoy the well-drawn graphics and addictive gameplay, which plays like an overhead version of Contra. Players control a super soldier through hordes of bloodthirsty enemies, tanks, and other war hazards. Players who step on land mines have a bloody hole blown through the torso, and enemy soldiers often explode into a gory mass of arms and legs. Total Carnage is yet another example of Midway's tendency to poison awesome gameplay with excessive blood and guts.

WACKO (1983, Action Shooter, 2 Player Alternating). Playing as a cute little alien in a flying saucer, gamers must elimate advancing monsters by shooting them in a pairs of like kind. For example, shooting a Wookiee and then a Lizard will do no damage at all. But if you shoot two Wookiees in a row they disappear. Two Lizards in a row likewise are eliminated from the play area. It gets harder as more monsters fill the screen, blocking your shot of the second half of the pair. A fun little game with no objectionable content, one can only hope that Midway includes more games like Wacko on its next collection of Treasures.

WIZARD OF WOR (1981, Action, 2 Player Co-Op/Versus). As in Pacman, play occurs in a maze, but instead of eating ghosts, you shoot weasels. The graphics are much too simplistic, in no way improving this already boring game.

XENOPHOBE (1987, Action, 3 Player Co-Op). Taking its cue from the 1986 movie “Aliens”, Xenophobe puts up to 3 players in a space station full of creepy things which must be exterminated before the base self-destructs. Unlike the movie, however, Xenophobe is not the least bit scary or compelling. The screen is divided horizontally into 3 blocks, one for each of the 3 players. Even if you're playing alone you have to play on the top block. This was probably meant to give players a sense of claustrophobia, but on a home console it's more like, "Hey! Why can't I use the whole screen?" Unimpressive action and a complete absence of in-game music leaves it all feeling rather flat.

XYBOTS (1987, Action Shooter, 2 Player Co-Op). A third-person shooter, Xybots drops your spandex-wearing space man into a maze crawling with deadly robots and aliens. Shoot them and clear the corridors. It may not sound like much, but Xybots was way ahead of its time and is one of the better games on the disc. You can strafe, peek around corners, and use the shoulder buttons to move the camera. In the evolution of video games, Xybots is the missing link that comes before Wolfenstein 3D, and should be enjoyed by fans of the shooter genre, even if only for 10-minute bursts.

CONCLUSION More than half of Midway's new releases this year were rated M for Mature. Midway Arcade Treasures 2 shows us that the company's tendency toward graphic, over-the-top violence is nothing new, and for that reason, sensitive gamers should steer clear. But if you ignore the M-rated titles there's not much left worth playing. There is a small amount of good, clean fun to be had with Treasures 2, but the clean games hardly contain the value or gameplay necessary to warrant a purchase.

Year of Release—2004

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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