MIDWAY ARCADE TREASURES 3 / Midway / Gamecube
Midway Arcade Treasures 3 is a collection of 8 arcade and Dreamcast racing games from Midway and Atari, spanning the period of 1989-1999. The collection (with links to our original reviews where available) includes: Badlands
(Arcade) Offroad Thunder
Race Drivin' (Arcade)
San Francisco Rush The Rock: Alcatraz Edition (Unique version) S.T.U.N. Runner
Super Off Road + Track Pack (Arcade) Hydro Thunder
(Dreamcast) San Francisco Rush 2049
All the games are emulated versions of the original arcade releases, with three exceptions. Hydro Thunder and San Francisco Rush 2049 are ported from their Dreamcast incarnations (which are only very minimally different from the original arcade releases.) San Francisco Rush the Rock is based on the original arcade release, but was overhauled specifically for this compilation to tweak the driving physics, and it also replaces the original announcer and music with all new stuff.
Let's talk about Rush the Rock first, since that's the one unique entity on offer here. Hardcore fans of the arcade game seem to take issue with the new physics and sound, and feel that this version is inferior. I've never actually played any Rush games at all prior to playing Rush 2049 in this package; my impression of that one was that it handled like a tank and the track design was so clumsy that it was borderline unplayable, in that light Rush the Rock actually looks quite a bit better. The music/sound is forgettable but I took no particular issue with it. There were certain points in some of the tracks where the camera gets a little wonky or there's clipping, but nothing game-breaking to me. The driving physics were acceptable, the various rendered San Francisco environments were nice, and on the whole I actually found this to be one of the more enjoyable games of the package. If you're a vet of the arcade version your mileage may vary.
Emulation of the other games is all-around quite solid. S.T.U.N. Runner is the one exception, but even MAME at this point struggles to get this game at 100% as it had such complex and unique hardware. It's playable, but with frameskipping and somewhat jerky control (and an abrasive boost sound effect).
Unfortunately, that was the main game that I picked this up for! Fortunately, the other arcade rarity in this package turned out to be a surprise winner. Offroad Thunder was a variant of the hardware used in Hydro Thunder, released shortly after that game, but never seeing the level of distribution or success that it's watery brother did. As it turns out it's a hell of a lot more fun than Hydro Thunder thanks to demolition derby and "capture the flag" modes, and turned out to be my easy favorite of the whole package. Like S.T.U.N. Runner, this is the first time that anyone has attempted to port this game to a console, but unlike S.T.U.N., they hit this one right out of the park on the first try.