Midway's history is fairly illustrious in the gaming industry, and the Midway Arcade Treasures (MAT) titles celebrate this fact, combining some of Midway's greatest franchises into a budget price. The original MAT title had Paperboy, the successor had Mortal Kombat 2 and 3, and MAT3 has Hydro Thunder, which feels decidedly less retro than the other titles. This compilation focuses heavily on the racing genre, so is the compilation any good or are Midway simply going overboard with their arcade treasures?
The highlight of the entire package lies with San Francisco Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder. San Francisco Rush 2049 is a port of the the Dreamcast version, which feels like it was just released recently. The game is still fairly fast, but after playing some of the recent faster arcade racers we've become accustomed to the speed. However, flying through the air and nearly flipping your vehicle at breakneck speed is still highly entertaining and is likely to be something that you don't get tired of too quickly.
Hydro Thunder is a speed boat racing game and another title that impresses. Anyone who is an avid fan of the series may be a little disappointed to discover that this is once again a port of the Dreamcast title, and as such the game isn't as detailed and is a little blurrier than the arcade version, but only hardcore fans are likely to recognise this. The multiplayer in Hydro Thunder is still very addictive and really had us thinking of the potential for a sequel.
The other games in the series aren't as exciting but are still worth mentioning. Rush the Rock is another title from the San Francisco Rush 2049 series but it isn't as good as the other Rush title. The visuals are very bland and there is a very limited selection, with only a few cars and a few tracks. If you're a fan of the Rush series then you'll appreciate having this title in your collection, but San Francisco Rush 2049 is quintessentially better.
Off Road Thunder feels like a spiritual successor to Hydro Thunder, except with mud in exchange for water. Consequently the game isn't as exciting, and only has a few modes, such as rally and demolition. The game puts a serious emphasis on fun over seriousness, as there are nitro pickups scattered throughout the entire track. There are a total of seven tracks, and they are all fairly lengthy so they don't become too repetitive.
S.T.U.N Runner feels a bit like a Back to the Future game. In the game you travel to the future (the 21st century) and the first thing you want to do apparantly is race at over 1000 kilometres an hour. The game is no F-Zero, but it's humorous to see how people thought the 21st century would be. However, it was unfortunately one of the titles we had the least fun with in the entire compilation.
Badlands is one of the weaker titles in the compilation and isn't likely to be a title that you'll instantly recognise. The game is set after a nuclear disaster and is very nostalgic; it also hasn't aged very gracefully and looks fairly average. This is one of those titles you will play quickly and them move on from.
The other three titles are really basic and include Race Drivin and Super Off Road. None of the three serve as anything other than a nostalgia kick, and these titles fill like fillers to make this into a larger compilation.
The XBox version fares the best out of the console versions simply because it includes Live compatibility. This unfortunately doesn't include online play; which is something we've been hoping for since the very first MAT title. Every game features the ability to upload your scores to the Xbox Live scoreboard, and whilst it may seem like a big deal, there aren't that many scores on the scoreboard and our experience has demonstrated that not many people like to showcase their scores to the world.
Gameplay-wise the games really are a bit of a hit and miss affair. Some games are fairly entertaining (Hydro Thunder, San Francisco Rush), whereas others are just downright awful to play (Bad Lands, Race Drivin), and calling them "treasures" is really inaccurate. Some of these games do have a little more depth than previous titles in the series, simply because they were on the Dreamcast, which means that just competing for a high score isn't the only objective of the game.
Visually, some of the games look like a mess - the 2D doesn't really look too bad, but early-generation 3D looks really sub-par these days and personally we prefer 2D to blocky sprites. Thus, even though these games aren't as old as the previous titles in the series, they look a lot more dated. Even the Dreamcast titles are beginning to show their age with blurry graphics and washed out colours.
The sound in the game also isn't anything memorable; in fact some of the games feature hideous sound that demonstrates just how far it has come in gaming. San Francisco Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder have decent sound, appropriately emulated from the Dreamcast. We encountered no hitches with the sound, so all of it does appear to have been emulated perfectly; Midway cannot really help the fact that most of the sound is fairly average.
The games themselves won't last too long. As we said last year, the lack of Xbox Live multiplayer is a real disappointment and could have justified the purchase of the game. If you were a die hard fan of any of these previous titles when they were originally released then it's fairly easy to get engrossed in the games again.
Midway Arcade Treasures 3 is a bit of a disappointment. It's still up for debate whether Midway's racing games were any fun to begin with, but we can confirm that they aren't as fun anymore. With so many racing games coming out in 2005 we're struggling to keep up with the current ones, let alone the compilations. Midway Arcade Treasures 3 really is only for die-hard fans; we hope that Midway take a bit of a break after this incarnation as these treasures are a mixed bounty.