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Games

Midway Arcade Treasures 2

Jason Thompson

The sheer fact that you can compile not only Mortal Kombat II, but Mortal Kombat 3, plus nearly 20 other games on this disc is definitely progress.


Publisher: Midway
Price: $19.99
Multimedia: Midway Arcade Treasures 2
Platforms: PlayStation 2 (also available on GameCube and Xbox)
Number of players: 1-4 s
ESRB rating: Mature
Developer: Backbone Entertainment
US release date: 2007-07

Hey, I'm not going to sit here once again and sing the praises of old school arcade gaming (for that you can read my original Midway Arcade Treasures review). The fact of the matter is I've been waiting around for Midway Arcade Treasures 2 like a little kid waiting for his birthday or Christmas for one reason and one reason only: Mortal Kombat II. Yes folks, it's literally been since the 16-bit console days since MK II has been ported over, and let me just say that it's about damn time. And was it worth the extra overnight shipping that I paid for this game when none of the stores around here were even carrying it on its release day? Oh, hell yeah.

You see, playing Mortal Kombat II again brings back that old school rush of early '90s gaming, much like the first volume in this series instilled a nostalgia for the '80s arcade hits. But it seriously seems weird to think that a mere ten years ago can seriously constitute "old school" in video games anymore. But now more than ever, it indeed does. The sheer fact that you can compile not only Mortal Kombat II, but Mortal Kombat 3, plus nearly 20 other games on this disc that used to take a state of the art machine to hold only one of these titles is definitely progress.

The only problem that the MK fans are having is that Midway Arcade Treasures 2 was originally supposed to also include an arcade perfect port of the original Mortal Kombat game. However, this was slated to instead appear on the Special Edition version of Mortal Kombat: Deception at the last minute. Do I care? Part of me does, seeing how I really wasn't the biggest fan of Mortal Kombat: Dark Alliance, and having to pay an extra ten or so dollars for that game's special edition sequel definitely seems like milk money. I can't fully complain, though, since I wanted this collection strictly for MK II. So it goes.

And yeah, I do think that the inclusion of both MK II and MK 3 here are what's going to drive the purchases of this disc. It's funny how the new MK titles seem almost quaint compared to the outlandish, dare I say "revolution" that was spurned by the original Mortal Kombat trilogy. Once again, the arcades were getting filled up, parents and religious groups were getting worried due to the gratuitous violent nature of the games, and there was a distinct mania for these titles, the likes of which probably hadn't been seen since Pac-Man first arrived on US shores. Now that's definitely saying something, considering the fact that Capcom had been offering up various versions of its Street Fighter franchise with only moderate enthusiastic response before Midway coughed up their gory masterpieces.

But then again, it certainly went into overkill, and the whole fighting genre soon took over the arcades, with varying degrees of success. A couple of those examples are also included here on Midway Arcade Treasures 2. The first, Pit Fighter was the very first fighting game featuring real, digitized people instead of computer-designed characters. The game preceded Mortal Kombat, and it's certainly funny to see how far the whole motion capture animation technique has come since the early '90s. In Pit Fighter, the characters look more like Rock'em Sock'em Robots with their choppy, clunky actions than the smooth, lifelike characters we're used to in today's games that utilize motion capture technology.

The other fighting game featured here is the also clumsy yet entertaining Primal Rage that features dinosaurs duking it out in the ring. Like Pit Fighter, this game was never great even when it originally appeared, but is fun to revisit and fully learn in the comfort of your own home, rather than wasting more and more quarters. If you want the fun monster game of this collection, go directly to Rampage World Tour, which was also ported to the PlayStation a few years back, but this version is the arcade perfect translation and certainly looks and plays much better than the old port.

Amongst other classic and fun titles included here, such as the truly old school Wizard of Wor, the precursor to any NFL Blitz game, Arch Rivals, and the seriously goofy driving simulator, Hard Drvin'; there are even a couple games I hadn't ever played. One is the bizarre Timber, in which the player controls a lumberjack who has to chop down a set amount of trees while dodging obstacles. The mechanics and sound seem to be built on the same system as the old Root Beer Tapper game. The other wilderness title is Kozmik Krooz'r, a sort of 360 degree shooter that seems helplessly dated but offers enough action for the curious.

I was also thrilled to once again play such games as Xenophobe, Xybots, and NARC, which predates Mortal Kombat's silly gore with its exploding drug dealers. Plus, there's a bevy of other titles here that will be sure to please the old crowd, such as Gauntlet II and Cyberball 2072. And for twenty bucks, Midway Arcade Treasures 2 certainly goes far in the pleasing department. And while not everything here might be truly classic and worthy of more than a few plays, what this collection does do quite well is it showcases a large collection of games that shows how fast arcade gaming technology developed in a few short years in the early '90s. In that aspect, it outshines the first volume in this series. It will certainly be interesting to see how "quaint" today's games are in ten years' time when they'll undoubtedly be compiled for future consoles as well.

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