Video Game Compilation Review: Midway Arcade Treasures

Updated on August 10, 2018
Shaun Mudd profile image

Shaun is a writer and game collector with a wide variety of games from different generations. He likes reviewing some of the games he owns.

Do you dare to enter this kingdom of gems?
Do you dare to enter this kingdom of gems?

Welcome to my video game compilation review series. Today, we will be looking at Midway Arcade Treasures. There have been a few compilations of Midway games over the years. These include three that were released for the Playstation 2, Xbox, and GameCube—along with others that were released on later consoles. For now, we will be looking at Midway Arcade Treasures (2003/2004).

Midway Arcade Treasures was released on the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube in 2003 in North America and was brought to Europe in 2004 (except for the GameCube version). It was followed by a PC port that was released in both the U.S. and Europe later that same year. It includes 24 emulated arcade games, including Gauntlet, Paperboy, Joust, and Rampage.

This menu was good in theory, but not in practice.
This menu was good in theory, but not in practice.

This compilation has an interesting interface. It is designed to look like an ancient Egyptian pyramid—complete with a hieroglyphic to represent each game—as though you had stumbled across a room full of ancient gems. I get the idea, but it doesn’t really work out all that well because you won’t know what game you’re playing half the time. The hieroglyphics often barely represent what they are supposed to be, and the screen in the center often doesn’t show the game title for several seconds to the point where it would be quicker to select the game or go into the options menu to see what it is.

Speaking of the screen, it takes up the center of the screen with the graphics for all of the games surrounding it. That would be fine if it showed just the title every single time, but it does not and often shows some of the gameplay. Even when it does show the title, the text is often too small to see clearly. Not to mention that the screen position makes it difficult to navigate. If all that wasn’t enough, it looks like the developers arranged the games in whatever order they pleased. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.

But enough about the menu design (which was good in theory, but not in practice). In addition to the 24 games, there are added bonuses like trivia and interviews for most of the games on the compilation. So out of 24 games, how many of them are good? Let’s dive in and find out. As I go over the games, I will mention if any of them are available in other compilations.

The 24 Games in Midway Arcade Treasures

720*
Klax
Satan's Hollow
Blaster
Marble Madness
Sinistar
Bubbles
Paperboy
SmashTV
Defender
Rampage
SPLAT!
Defender 2
Rampart
Spy Hunter
Gauntlet
RoadBlasters
Super Sprint
Joust
Robotron
Toobin'
Joust II: Survival of the Fittest
Root Beer Tapper
Vindicators
Look out below!
Look out below!

1. 720°

720° is a skateboard game where you are in a skatepark and have to go to the various attractions before a seemingly unavoidable enemy comes in and kills you. That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? Anyway, at the attractions, you participate in various events, such as an obstacle course, and others involving going through a course and jumping.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins for the Xbox 360 and PS3
  • Arcade Party Pak for PS1

Isn't early 3D wonderful?
Isn't early 3D wonderful?

2. Blaster

Blaster is an early 3D shooter and a sequel of sorts to Robotron. The game is in first-person, and you have to navigate through arches and asteroids in space—all while shooting up enemies. It is a fun game that feels like a primitive version of Star Fox if you can wrap your head around that. It's especially noticeable with the arches.

This is... interesting.
This is... interesting.

3. Bubbles

This is a rather unique game where you play as a bubble in a sink who has to move around collecting dirt and small enemies in order to get bigger—all while avoiding sponges, large enemies like spiders, and even razor blades. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a fun game.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins


4. Defender

Defender is an early horizontal shooter where you have a map of enemy locations and have to shoot all of them up. This is a pretty fun game.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

5. Defender II

Originally released in arcades as StarGate, this game is basically the same as the first Defender with upgraded graphics, warping around, and new enemies—along with the ability to turn invisible for a short time. It’s great for avoiding and destroying certain enemies that you come across.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

6. Gauntlet

Gauntlet is a classic game where you can play as a few different fantasy characters such as an elf, dwarf, a wizard, and a swordsman. You go through an endless series of rooms and clear each all the enemies in each one as you try to find the exit. The game is fun at first, but it can get repetitive because the rooms repeat in this never-ending game. It gets more boring when you consider that you basically cannot die in this version since you can spam a button to keep your health up.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins
  • Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2 for PS1

7. Joust

Ah, Joust. The fun and classic game where you play as a knight riding an ostrich who then has to hit several other knights from above to knock them down and eliminate them. The gameplay is so good that it inspired two classic Nintendo games: Mario Brothers and Balloon Fight.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

Joust. Now with griffons.
Joust. Now with griffons.

8. Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest

This is basically the same as the first Joust with the exception of a couple of upgrades, such as different stage layouts and being able to play as a griffon to charge at enemies when the ostrich just won’t cut it.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

9. Klax

Klax is an addicting puzzle game where blocks come at you on a conveyer belt and you have to stack them vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or whatever else the game tells you to do. It gets increasingly harder as you go along.

Also available on:

  • Arcade Party Pak

10. Marble Madness

In this game, you have to move a marble down a series of courses before the time runs out. It is somewhat difficult to control, or at least it is on the PS2 since it is easy to fall off the ledge and die.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins
  • Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2

This game alone makes the compilation worth it!
This game alone makes the compilation worth it!

11. Paperboy

In this classic that’s available on what feels like every system imaginable, you play as a boy who rides on a bike delivering newspapers to a series of houses by either throwing them at the doormat or in a mailbox for more points—hoping you don’t hit their windows (you’ll lose subscribers if you do). If you want to gain subscribers, just break the non-subscribers’ windows or make a perfect run. All of this must be done while avoiding obstacles such as break dancers, cars, remote-control cars, all sorts of random creatures, and even the Grim Reaper. I'll just say this. If the Grim Reaper is living in the neighborhood you’re delivering in, wouldn’t it be time to either move or ask for a new route? I’ll admit that it is sometimes more fun to ride down the street (in the game, of course) and just throw the newspapers through the windows, though do that for a few days in-game and you’ll get an instant game over. This is still a fun game though and is one of the highlights of this collection—along with being one of the best ways to play Paperboy.

Also available on:

  • Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2

Take that, building!
Take that, building!

12. Rampage

Rampage was a good idea at its core. Play as an assortment of old movie monsters and go on a rampage through the city, punching and knocking down buildings (or let the local military do that) while snatching people out of windows or stepping on them. For such a fun concept, the game is surprisingly boring in some areas and doesn’t feel as fun as it should be.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins
  • Arcade Party Pak

Ships incoming!!
Ships incoming!!

13. Rampart

Here’s a good one. Rampart is a strategy game where you build a wall around a castle and defend it from invading ships by shooting them with cannons, repairing the walls between rounds and hoping they are not destroyed because that will end the game. This is a pretty fun game, and I lost a huge amount of time playing it even if I didn’t make it that far.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

14. RoadBlasters

I don’t know if there is really much to say about this one. This is a racing game where you try to get to all of the checkpoints in the allotted time while shooting up some of the other vehicles so they get out of the way. The best way to describe this game is Rad Racer with a gun because that is exactly what it looks like.

Also available on:

  • Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2 for PS1

15. Robotron: 2084

How could one of the earliest top-down shooters not be in this collection? In this game, you play as a guy who has to avoid numerous obstacles while shooting enemies and hoping you survive. While the game has its moments, it feels a little primitive at times. The matter isn't helped when you can barely see your character with all of the stuff on the screen at one time.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

Click thumbnail to view full-size
You do know calling that root beer isn't fooling anyone right, Midway?The original version. Note the sponsor.
You do know calling that root beer isn't fooling anyone right, Midway?
You do know calling that root beer isn't fooling anyone right, Midway?
The original version. Note the sponsor.
The original version. Note the sponsor.

16. Root Beer Tapper

This was an unexpected surprise to me. In this game, you play as a bartender of sorts and have to throw root beers down the various tables to satisfy customers while ensuring that glasses don’t fall off the table and making sure the customers don’t make it to the front of the tables. If they do, they will throw you out.

This is truly one of the better games in the collection and one I spent hours playing. Even though you’re supposed to be serving root beer, it’s obvious that the drinks are supposed to be beer especially given the reactions of the customers. This is actually a modified version of Midway’s earlier title Tapper, which was made in association with Budweiser and released in bars before being toned down for regular arcades since a game with alcoholic drinks wouldn’t go over well in arcades. Not that it fooled anyone, though. This is one of the games I’ve played the most on this compilation, only second to Paperboy.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

17. Satan's Hollow

Satan’s Hollow is a vertical shooter where you shoot down a group of enemies and protect yourself with a shield when enemies swoop down. You come across Satan a few times and avoiding that fire beam of his isn’t easy. Overall, the game plays like Taito’s Phoenix, which is certainly a good thing.

18. Sinistar

Sinistar is another space game where you play as a ship roaming around space while avoiding asteroids and an assortment of enemies while mining for certain materials.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

19. Smash TV

Smash TV is another classic. This is a follow-up of sorts to Robotron and, as such, is a top-down shooter where you shoot up all the enemies you can while avoiding obstacles like bombs. Your ultimate goal is to collect all the keys needed to enter the pleasure dome. This game is really good, though it does pose quite a challenge. It has also aged better than Robotron in my opinion.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins
  • Arcade Party Pak

20. SPLAT!

Splat is a game revolving around a food fight where you get food from a machine and must throw it at as many opponents before the time runs out by knocking their heads off and hitting them again. This is a pretty fun game, and it is funny watching your on character and your opponents running around without their heads.

21. Spy Hunter

It sounds like Midway went out their way to put a good portion of their best games on this compilation, including this one where you play as a car that has to shoot up a bunch of cars while making sure you don’t get hit and thrown off the road. All the while, you have to make sure you only hit enemy vehicles and not civilians. A van comes by every now and then, and if you drive into it, you get more weapons such as an oil slick and missiles. Toping it off is a good theme song borrowed from the TV show Peter Gun, which really sets the mood.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins

22. Super Sprint

Super Sprint is a game where you play as a tiny car and go through a series of tracks in an attempt to win. The game is a lot of fun, even though most of the difficulty seems to come from the controls and the track design. It is still good racing game and a worthy part of this compilation.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins
  • Arcade Party Pak

23. Toobin'

Toobin’ is a unique one. In this game, you are in an inner tube and must navigate through a long course in attempt to beat your opponent to the goal. The controls take a while to get used to, or at least they do on the PS2, but once you figure it out, this becomes a fun game.

Also available on:

  • Midway Arcade Origins
  • Arcade Party Pak

Hello, turret. How are you?
Hello, turret. How are you?

24. Vindicators

Here you play as a tank, and you must travel around a room destroying other tanks and collecting keys to advance. Once you get used to the controls, you’ll discover that this is a pretty good game.

So, Is This Game Worth Getting?

I was actually quite impressed with this compilation. Most, if not all, of the games are really good. Midway certainly went out of their way to choose the best games they had and/or owned the rights to, and how enjoyable the games are far outweighs the menu design. I highly recommend tracking this game down (you can also find it on Amazon). It is a good way to get many good games for a low price if you still have one of the systems it was released for. If you don’t, I still recommend at least tracking some of these games down in some form. There are certainly enough ports for some of them.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Midway Arcade Treasures. My final verdict is:

7/10 (Good)

If it wasn’t for the menu design, the game selection would warrant an 8. Join me next time, and we’ll look at the first follow-up to this compilation.

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