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PlayStation 3 Review: Midway Arcade Origins

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Arcade Origins opens on a rendered introduction wherein a quarter is stuck into a slot, rolling down the coin cage past relics of video games from bygone eras. It’s what you imagined happened as you put loose change into the glowing cabinets of CRT behemoths. Often primitive visual characters beckoned into action for a mere five minutes of bliss brought forth from allowances.

That is, for the most part, where the bliss ends for this collection.

Midway is no longer with us, gobbled up by Warner Bros. as Midway’s arcade business tanked and their console offerings lacked an audience. Warner, in their interactive form, hasn’t shown us much in the mid to low-tier software range, least of all this slapdash clunker.

Thirty one titles grace this collection, each of them earning a single Trophy in the list. Most games require less than five minutes of play to earn their slice of digital rewards. There’s wasted space on the Trophy list not being taken advantage of.

The release feels like it’s recouping losses. As Midway died, so did their digital offerings on PSN & Xbox Live. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn most of these games were destined for one or both of those services, not including (of course) the ones that did make it. What’s utterly contemptible are cases such as Smash T.V. That saw renewed life on Xbox Live as a genuinely perfect emulated port, only to be shuttered from the service in the buyout.

Here on the Origins collection, it’s missing all of the music in the first stage. There’s nothing there other than the booming sound effects, a Midway hallmark that doesn’t connect without the spirited game show rhythms.

Wizard of Wor crashed after earning the only Trophy dedicated to it. Cyberball only works with mono audio, while the rest have no issues at least utilizing two channel effects.

Control customizations are inconsistent, Smash T.V. again a beacon for what’s ill in this compilation. It’s fused to a dual analog set-up, which at first glance makes sense. The issue is that Smash comes from a purely digital control era, and the eight-way firing is wholly inconsistent when modeled to an analog stick as opposed to buttons. Yet again, the Xbox Live Arcade edition handled the issue correctly. With a stick, it lacks the snap and accuracy. The same goes for Total Carnage and Robotron.

While menu options allow the picking of favorites and categories, there’s nothing in regards to historical significance. A scroll bar towards the bottom of the screen spews out a few gems, but only when in an actual game screen to customize options. You’re not likely reading facts when setting configurations such as garish visual smoothing filters.

No online play is offered, not a total deal breaker in any capacity considering the arcade’s penchant for local rumbles. Still, the opportunity wasn’t capitalized on to possibly rise this comp above the low-rent production values teeming from it. Leaderboards (and Trophies) are locked to a scoring mode that disallows continues. Free play is just because.

Called Origins for a reason, the disc doesn’t offer anything beyond 1993, a cap that robs the set of stand out late ’90s efforts that arguably would have made this more attractive. As it stands, there’s no one out in the cold seeking additional copies of Spy Hunter II or the deliriously wonky Pit-Fighter. Someone, however, is probably looking to refuel themselves with San Francisco Rush.

Despite the gems, you can access most of these titles elsewhere on previous (actual) Midway discs, even if they’re not for the PlayStation 3. Backwards compatibility and console hoarding have their benefits, and that’s saving $30 on a mish-mash of sloppily ported – if not outright broken in some cases – arcade titles of yesteryear.

The full title list:

Arch Rivals
Championship Sprint
Joust II
Defender II
Gauntlet II
Tournament Cyberball 2072
Marble Madness
Robotron 2084
Root Beer Tapper
Satan’s Hollow
Spy Hunter
Spy Hunter II
Smash TV
Super Off-Road
Super Sprint
Total Carnage
Vindicators Part II
Wizard of Wor

Midway Arcade Origins is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mild Sexual Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • matt

    Thanks for a serious review… was hoping to get this for Robotron and Smash, but oh well.