Midway has truly set the standard for gaming nostalgia with their Arcade Treasures series. With the previous installments, Midway hasn't done anything flashy or extravagant with the presentation of these classic games; in fact, the low key display of titles harkens back to the simpler days when games didn't necessarily have a plot or cutscenes. Now you can get your classic gaming fix on the go thanks to Midway's latest PSP title. Get ready for the next level, because we're going hands on with Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play.
If you're a fan of the franchise, then you'll probably be well accustomed to the titles found in Extended Play. Just about every single title included in the portable collection has been culled from Arcade Treasures Volume 1 or 2 – the lone exception being the original Mortal Kombat. While the games are not expressly grouped into specific genres, you'll pick up on them even if you've never played the title before. There are Extreme Sports titles (720, Archrivals, Cyberball 2072), Racing (Championship Sprint), Shooters (Defender, Sinistar) and Fighting games (MK 1-3), amongst other types. What’s extremely cool is how spot on these emulations are, down to the same glitches, bugs and other quirks that players will probably remember from the arcades.
You have the chance to manipulate a few options, such as control schemes, game settings and even searching for opponents wirelessly, but for the most part, these titles are unmodified from the original code themselves. Perhaps that’s what makes the extremely long load times for the PSP seem so unreasonable. Loading a game as simple as Wizard of Wor takes anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds at least, and it isn’t even a graphically intensive title. In fact, the hardest strain that the disc is really under comes from the Mortal Kombat titles, which does wind up stuttering or dropping frames during fights, regardless of whether or not you’re playing against an opponent. It’s as if the emulation for the three fighting games is struggling to get enough power to accurately track the onscreen action.
Perhaps worse than even the console versions of the game, the PSP controls aren’t particularly great at recreating the specialized controllers from the arcade machines. Championship Sprint, Paperboy and 720, for instance, all has specialized steering mechanics that suffer greatly with the lone choices of analog nub or directional keys, and unless you’re willing to dedicate a lot of time to those titles or you’re a hardcore fan, you’re probably going to wind up skipping them entirely. You’ll also pick up on some stretched aspect ratios that either distort or shrink some details of the game entirely. Sinistar is the largest culprit of this, diminished to such an extent that you’ll be a little hard pressed to pick out some of the onscreen action coming at you until it’s too late.
Don’t get me wrong – it may seem like I’m overtly negative about the PSP port. I’m not trying to be; all gamers should play these classics at some point in their gaming life, and the option to have 21 of them wherever you are is a truly appealing prospect. However, control issues, load times and graphical hiccups do wind up making this a much better collection of titles for the console than for Sony’s handheld.