With the death of Midway as a company came the de-listing of several games from the XBLA (Smash TV, Joust, etc.) Classic gamers like myself were either left with the games already purchased through the XBLA or thrown back to the collections already available on many other platforms. Granted those collections were available in various forms on a lot of platforms dating back to the original PlayStation, even the Sega Genesis.
But from the ashes of Midway came the re-birth of the brand under the Warner Brothers label WB Games, and they have brought us the fantastic collection Midway Arcade Origins (360 & PS3.) Loaded with over 30 titles (31 to be exact) and achievements (of course,) this collection is a great alternative to all of the first person shooters, asylum games, and what-have-you. If you're under a certain age this collection will turn you off to what many consider "classic arcade games."
Below: Xybots (left) and Wizard of Wor (right)
Looking at the Good
The good in this collection are really good, and there are quite a few on this disc. Total Carnage and Smash TV have been praised on this site, so those are definitely on the good list, as well as the precursor game, Robotron 2084. Defender and Defender 2 have also been praised, even though I really suck at those games and can't get very far on one play. There is also Xybots, a 3rd person shooter that makes me think of Doom, running down corridors, blowing shit up. The sounds are pretty good, and the game play is unique and may take some getting used to. The racing games, Super Sprint and Super Off Road are good, but the difficulty ramps up pretty quick after one or two races. Then again, AI in Midway games that feel cheap are pretty much par for Midway games, especially in sports and fighting games. APB is just a silly stupid game, driving a police car around busting criminals, litterbugs, horn beepers, hitch-hikers, etc.. It's a fun game that looks and sounds good, but the controls are pretty tough. Wizard of Wor Satan's Hollow are good games but the graphics have not aged well at all. Rounding out the titles are Sinistar, Gauntlet, Gauntlet 2, Toobin', Vindicators Pt 2, Tapper, Rampart, Rampage, and Cyberball. Each title plays hit-or-miss, you'll either like them or you'll play them once and go "Ok, next."
Looking at the Ugly
Of course with many things classic, you expect some turds and games that make you wonder what you were thinking about when you were a kid if you're that old. I definitely wonder. The skateboarding title 720 I could never get into, nor could I get to control properly for me to play longer than one minute. Arch Rivals thankfully was just a prehistoric version of what would become the awesome NBA Jam. Arch Rivals played alright, but was slow, with too many cut scenes during play and unpredictable baskets being shot. Then there's a title like Bubbles, a so-so Robotron type game set in a sink (yep, a sink.) Move your bubble around collecting water that makes your bubble grow ever larger, but beware enemies like ants and big ants and razor blades and sponges who threaten to pop you. Then there's Pit Fighter, a ridiculous pre-Mortal Kombat with bad graphics, bad game play, and bad sounds. This game I have played so infrequently because I felt cheated even playing it for free. It really does suck. So much so that when I saw it in arcades I would always refer to it as Shit Fighter. Marble Madness is on this list due to the control in the arcades was done by a trackball, and that's pretty much the only way to play this game properly.
Below: Joust, Joust 2, Gauntlet 2, Tapper
Below, clockwise from left: 720, Arch Rivals, Pit Fighter, Bubbles
Lastly, there is Spy Hunter 2. There is only one way to review Spy Hunter 2. Here it is; Fuck you, Spy Hunter 2, you are possibly the worst game I have ever played, and I still want my money back for your shit stained stupid game play. Roadblasters does it better.
Anyhow if you love the classics, Midway Arcade Origins will fit the bill for you, and will show you the good, the bad, the ugly, and Spy Hunter 2. By the way, Spy Hunter 2 belongs in a toilet.
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