Revisit the classic arcade games that you grew up with in Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Vol 2! - Review By Retrovertigo
Throughout the last couple of months, several games have been reported to be the final release for the Dreamcast system. However, every time the "last" game comes out, another title shows up. It's the system that refuses to die.
Midway has just released another collection of some of their best classic arcade games from the 1980s. I have to admit that when Celeryface asked me if I would like to review this collection of some of Midway's greatest classic arcade games, I was a bit reluctant to review them, based on my experience with the first Midway collection. However, when I found out that Volume 2 consisted of six of my favorite arcades games, Moon Patrol, 720, Rampage, Spy Hunter, Gauntlet, and Paperboy, I was psyched!
These were some of my favorite games at the arcades in the 1980s and were enjoyed immensely on the Atari 2600 and the Apple IIc with their early ports. However, this collection is a replica of the original arcade titles.
How does the classic gaming experience of Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 2 stack up against today's games?
First and foremost, where can you get a brand new game for $15? Well it just so happens that Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 2 (which I will refer to as Midway's Greatest 2 to keep it short and sweet) is available at most retailers for the low price of just $15! It's not often that a good deal like this comes along, and I'm guessing that the reason for the super-low price is based a lot on the on the reduced price of the Dreamcast hardware. (If I remember correctly Midway's first volume of games was priced comparable to that of the other Dreamcast games.
I can specifically remember spending hours and hours playing Spy Hunter and Moon Patrol on both my Apple IIc and the Atari 2600, back in the early 1980s when I wore knee-high white socks with the horizontal stripes, and shirts with ironed-on patches of Dukes of Hazzard and G.I. Joe.
For any classic arcade buff, this is definitely a must-own Dreamcast title. The graphics and the sounds in this collection is as real as the Gauntlet coin-op machine that you used to play at the old roller skating rink (that's roller skating, not roller blading -- four wheels, not two). That is, you could hear the synthesized voices if they didn't have Cindy Lauper and Paula Abdul pop songs blasting over the rink's audio system - okay, maybe that was just me.)
The menus are easily navigated, and each game's controls can be customized according to your preferences.
One of the worst features of any classic arcade port is that the graphics and gameplay are going to look and feel extremely dated, based on the games we have today.
The graphics in Midway's Greatest 2 range from very primitive looking to an early detailed arcade look. By today's standards, the graphics are very mediocre, but during their prime they were state-of-the-art. The way I think of the graphics is similar to how a young person would perceive an 80-year old actress/model today. You look at this actress today and she looks like a dried up prune. She's wrinkly, and perhaps a bit small and shrunken looking. Maybe she's a little slow and feeble-minded, and doesn't have the most attractive voice when she talks. Then you get a look at a photograph or see a movie with her in it when she was in her prime. You then nod your head and say, "She was a beautiful woman in her early years." That's exactly how I feel about the graphics of these classic games: They're less-than-stellar looking by today's standards, but during their prime they were really spectacular!
The sound is also very dated. In some instances there is no music or sound at all. The music uses a very early synthesized sound, and in some parts of the game, especially in Gauntlet there are muffled and distorted (yet understandable) voices. Although these sounds and music are recreated perfectly from their arcade versions, most casual gamers, especially ones who didn't grow up playing arcade games in the mid-to-early 1980s, will probably not enjoy these features.
The default controls were a little difficult to handle at first, especially in Paperboy and Spy Hunter which require some faster reflexes than the others. The problem that I had with the controls was that the analog thumb pad is the defaulted input device for the game. The analog thumb pad controls all of the onscreen movement. I've always been a fan of the Dreamcast's directional pad when it comes to more precise control. (Thankfully, Midway allows you to customize your controls to fit your personal preferences, so this wasn't that big of an issue.)
I've also noticed that the controls are a bit sticky at times, which probably isn't the problem of the Dreamcast controller but the simplistic controls used in the arcades back in the early 1980s.
My personal favorite game in this collection was also one of the more "problematic". Rampage's gameplay seemed sped up from what I remembered from years ago. At times I found myself getting frustrated by the constant bombardment of grenades, cannon fire, and gunfire. As I just mentioned, it has been quite awhile since I last played a classic version of Rampage, so I'm not 100% sure if the game really is sped up or if it's just a clouded part of my memory.
One cosmetic problem I had with this Midway's Greatest 2 was the opening full motion videos for Midway and Digital Eclipse's logos. Perhaps, I'm used to the high-quality DVD-quality CG movies found on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, but I don't remember Dreamcast-quality FMV being as poor and as pixilated as it was in this collection of classic arcade games. It's as if this collection was sloppily put together. It really looked like a low-quality Quicktime movie that was stretched out to fit a full-screen television. I've heard about Dreamcast game pirates who rip the contents of GD-ROMs, and end up down sampling the video quality of CG and FMV movies so that the contents of the GD-ROM will fit into a recordable CD-ROM sized format. This is exactly what these FMV looked like. Although this was simply a cosmetic nitpicking that does not affect the gameplay in any way, it was the first impression of the game I had, and from the looks of it, the games looks like it was really thrown together a little quickly (and sloppily).
Another problem with the introduction FMV, is that you can't skip it. Although it only runs for about 30 seconds, it's still annoying to try to get right into the game while you have to watch these poor-quality full screen animations flash before your eyes.
The Final Word
Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 2 is a collection that will be appreciated by nostalgic gamers and classic arcade buffs. This is not a collection that casual gamers will appreciate, unless they used to enjoy 80s arcade games.
The graphics are slightly better than something found on the 8-bit
Nintendo Entertainment System and the sound in the game is nothing to write home to mom about.
By today's standards, many gamers will find this collection to be boring. However, this is the perfect recreation of classic arcade games, and for anybody who enjoys playing classic games will really enjoy this anthology of some of Midway's best work. What also makes this collection even more appealing is the $15 price tag (which happens to equal 60 twenty-five cent games, and I guarantee if you're into classic arcade games, you'll have no problem getting your money's worth.
If it wasn't for the low price of Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits Volume 2, I would have given this a much lower score. It's great for retro-gamers, but for everybody else it's best to look elsewhere for new games to buy.