Classic collections or 'Treasures' are incredibly hard to look at objectively. On one hand you've got the ruthless side of your brain demanding every game in the collection to be judged by modern standards, while the nicer side wants to get all nostalgic and remember the good old days. Seeing as I have no idea what you're gaming history is, every game in Midway Arcade Treasures 3 is getting a grilling.
Unlike the previous two games in the 'Treasures' series, number 3 features a few games that your average ten-year old wouldn't look at in disgust. The full roster contains eight arcade racing titles from 1989 to 2001, giving a nice mix of real retro racing action and semi-modern stuff. If you have no interest in racing games, you can stop reading now.
Starting with the oldest, we have Super Off-Road and Badlands. Both games are simple 2D affairs, with Badlands giving players the use of vehicle mounted weapons. Both are played from a fixed overhead viewpoint, giving you a full view of the track and all the other cars on it. Both play surprisingly well, and anyone familiar with 16-bit Micro Machines titles will feel a strong resemblance. They're pretty short lived, though, with the appeal of using the steering wheel from the arcade cabinet sadly being lost when played at home.
Race Drivin' and S.T.U.N. Runner are two very early polygonal racing titles, but each offer a rather different experience. Race Drivin' attempted to give you an authentic racing experience, which in 1990 meant flat shaded polygons. It certainly looks basic by today's standards, but back then this was cutting-edge stuff. The arcade cabinet helped enhance the experience, too, with a steering wheel, pedals, and even an ignition. However, this cabinet experience has obviously been lost, making the game somewhat dull.
'It's certainly far too simplistic for modern tastes...'
S.T.U.N. Runner shares the basic visuals of Race Drivin', but its high-speed blasting action is considerably more enjoyable. A pretty basic game at heart, you had no control over your speed, with your involvement limited to dodging and blasting traffic. It's certainly far too simplistic for modern tastes and wouldn't be considered as much more than a mini-game today, but it's fun nonetheless. The emulation isn't perfect, though, with some slowdown when the road becomes crowded.
The compilation then skips forward to 1997 with San Francisco Rush the Rock: Alcatraz Edition. Despite the premise of racing on Alcatraz, I don't think the real island has many loop-the-loops or insane jump locations. The Sequel, San Francisco Rush 2049, moves to a futuristic setting, but gameplay remains pretty similar. Both games play well, but Rush: The Rock definitely feels a little more dated. The crude use of colour, blocky visuals and lack of multiplayer support give it a pretty short lifespan. Rush 2049 is a much better overall package, with all the modes from the Dreamcast version. While this gained a pretty large fan following, its over-the-top action hasn't aged all that well in my opinion, making this a game that will leave newcomers struggling to see what the all fuss was about.
The highlights of the package, for me anyway, are Hydro Thunder and Off-Road Thunder. Both games feature big, bold visuals and fast arcade action. Hydro Thunder is obviously set on water, with your jet-propelled boats screaming around a fair few wonderfully themed courses. Off-Road Thunder is essentially more of the same, but with a dirty off-road theme and slightly less impressive visuals. Neither game would pass as a modern release, but they're certainly the most visually appealing and enjoyable games in the collection. They also both work well in the home as didn't rely on elaborate arcade cabinets to make them fun
What's evident is the overall lack of enjoyment I gained from this collection; Hydro Thunder and Off-Road Thunder are the only two games that I'd consider playing again. I can't help but think that Midway missed the boat slightly with the selection of games on offer. Why not include all their old racing titles? The Cruis'n series would have been a great addition, but it wasn't to be. As the set includes two or three games that are worth looking at, the collection might just be worth its low price tag, but calling them treasures might be going a little too far.