Midway Arcade Treasures 2 — 1Q2015 issue

 

A mostly for­get­table trea­sure trove

We’re going to use the term trea­sure trove loosely when I refer to Mid­way Arcade Trea­sures 2. Sure, there are some dia­monds in the mine that was once Mid­way and its arcade hits. But some­times, as demon­strated ably in this pack­age, Mid­way dug just a lit­tle too deep to find things that I wouldn’t trade for a seashell and some glass beads.

Mid­way Arcade Trea­sures 2 fol­lows in the vein of the pre­vi­ous title, min­ing for hits out of the ver­i­ta­ble Taj Mahal that is Midway’s cat­a­log of arcade favorites. The sec­ond go-round imme­di­ately catches the eye — and wal­let — for ver­sions of Mor­tal Kom­bat II and Mor­tal Kom­bat 3, arguably the cen­ter­piece in the entire show. Fol­low­ing up those pieces are lesser hits such as Pri­mal Rage, APB and Ram­page World Tour. The entire com­pi­la­tion is made up of 20 titles, which is a bar­gain for the amount of games you’re get­ting. Whether you want to play all 20 titles or not is the ques­tion and it’s eas­ily answered quickly: No.

A few of the titles included imme­di­ately dredge up hor­ri­ble mem­o­ries. These drecks of mod­ern gam­ing soci­ety have been res­ur­rected, and I’m not exactly sure for whose ben­e­fit. Hard Dri­vin’, men­tioned and dis­sected in GI’s hor­ri­ble games pod­cast of yes­ter­year, is the worst offender of the bunch. I have no earthly idea who thought this was an arcade clas­sic and why it needed to be thrust upon the masses again. It was a hor­ri­ble game to begin with and deserves no fur­ther dis­cus­sion or inclu­sion to rean­i­mate it from the depths of hell where it belongs (Editor’s Note: Fun fac­toid — Hard Dri­vin’ pro­vided the basis for GI’s Tor­ture of the Quar­ter col­umn). N.A.R.C. also war­rants a men­tion as a title to avoid, as well as Pri­mal Rage. Let’s face it, Pri­mal Rage was touted as com­pe­ti­tion for the likes of Mor­tal Kom­bat, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct back in the day, but no one with any sense ever took it seri­ously. The game doesn’t inspire any new feel­ings of doing so after 20 years.

With the inclu­sion of hideous titles, there will be some con­trol issues. The good news is that most titles play like they did when first released. The bad news is that some “improve­ments” have done just the oppo­site of their inten­tion. Let’s take, for exam­ple, Mor­tal Kom­bat II. Because of “new-and-improved” con­trol map­ping, it is impos­si­ble to fight hid­den char­ac­ter Smoke in all ver­sions except the PC ver­sion, and it takes a patch to fix that. That drags the over­all expe­ri­ence down con­sid­er­ably. Con­tin­u­ing with the Mor­tal Kom­bat exam­ple, Mor­tal Kom­bat 3 runs just like the arcade. Except, the arcade ver­sion of MK 3 was ter­ri­ble, with a lot of bugs and glitches that neces­si­tated the much-better Ulti­mate MK3. It’s a mixed bag: On the one hand you’re get­ting improved con­trols and mod­ern advance­ments, but on the other hand, these changes aren’t exactly wel­come.
What is wel­come, how­ever, is the inclu­sion of the behind-the-scenes mate­r­ial. Doc­u­men­taries and making-of mate­ri­als are included as bonus fea­tures for a few games, most notably Mor­tal Kom­bat II and Mor­tal Kom­bat 3. If you were an MK fanatic, these are inter­est­ing looks at the fran­chise at the height of its ini­tial pop­u­lar­ity. If you’re won­der­ing what the hype was about, it’s a great look at the ori­gin of the series and where ideas and mythol­ogy were cre­ated. The bonus mate­ri­als for all games included are worth buy­ing if you’re into the arcade scene and its history.

Whether you deem this col­lec­tion worth your time depends on how ded­i­cated you are to the preser­va­tion of the U.S. arcade scene. If you’re a purist and you care about obscure games such as Wiz­ard of Wor and Xybots, by all means go out and search for the trea­sure. Oth­er­wise, let this booby-trapped box stay hidden.

Devil May Cry — 1Q2015 issue

Capcom’s instant action plat­form­ing classic

In pre­vi­ous install­ments of Otaku Cor­ner, I reviewed manga based on Capcom’s Devil May Cry. Ever since DMC’s arrival in 2001, it has grown from a crit­i­cally acclaimed series to writ­ten and visual adap­ta­tions in comics, writ­ten nov­els and other var­i­ous mer­chan­dise. Orig­i­nally set in the Res­i­dent Evil uni­verse, because of tech­nol­ogy restraints and an expand­ing reverse sto­ry­line from Res­i­dent Evil, the series was ported to the PlaySta­tion 2. Hav­ing enjoyed expe­ri­enc­ing the manga’s action, I won­dered if I would feel the same when I played the first DMC game? I was about to find out.

Devil May Cry has ele­ments that are sim­i­lar to Res­i­dent Evil; the only dif­fer­ence is that you will be deal­ing with super­nat­ural ene­mies instead of those who were cre­ated by uneth­i­cal sci­en­tific exper­i­ments. You assume the role of Dante, a demon hunter/investigator who uses his skills to exer­cise demons for profit and to avenge the loss of his fam­ily from said crea­tures. One night while work­ing, Dante is hired by a mys­te­ri­ous woman named Trish, who after a brief but amaz­ing test of Dante’s skill, hires him to go to an aban­doned cas­tle where Mundus, the demon who is respon­si­ble for the death of Dante’s fam­ily, is plan­ning a return from hell. Unknown to our badass hero, he has taken on a a job that starts out as an oppor­tu­nity for vengeance, but soon will unlock an ancient birthright and his true des­tiny as mankind’s newest pro­tec­tor against demonic forces.

Game­play in DMC is a com­plete 180 from Res­i­dent Evil as the bat­tle style is more melee com­bat that run­ning and hid­ing from zom­bies. I found the con­trols pretty easy to use, thanks to the ana­log sticks that allow plenty of free move­ment to jump and take full advan­tage of Dante’s sweet com­bat moves. You will love it when Dante gets to busi­ness imme­di­ately with use of his twin hand­guns that can infict dam­age rapid-fire style and his awsomely designed sword Alas­tor that can be upgraded to unlock new attacks. He also has a BIG trump card to really make the demons howl with the use of “Devil Trig­gers” (think Goku or Veg­eta going Super Saiyan with an arse­nal of weapons and being in god mode).

The graph­ics are beau­ti­ful as Cap­com devel­oped a great game engine and made great use of the PS2’s tech­no­log­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties to bring out the action with­out using the god-awful cam­era angles found in Res­i­dent Evil. I per­son­ally liked how each cutscene brought DMC’s sto­ry­line together with­out any over-the-top drama. The enemy vari­ety is good, too, rang­ing from demon mar­i­onettes to giant owls and other demonic crea­tures. I enjoyed the voice act­ing because it was not forced, flow­ing in sync with the game’s plot. I am proud to say that I would def­i­nitely replay this game when I’m feel­ing like I want to rip some demons apart.

Devil May Cry is a stand­out orig­i­nal game that is wor­thy of its praise from gam­ing crit­ics the world over. I find this another tes­ti­mony to the fact that Cap­com can do them­selves and their cus­tomers jus­tice by being true to their craft. I was pleased with my first DMC gam­ing expe­ri­ence and await more in future install­ments of this series.