Benjamin Franklin once said that “nothing can be certain except for death, taxes, and collections of old Midway arcade games.”* Today, Warner Bros. has proven him right by announcing Midway Arcade Origins, yet another rerelease of a bunch of classics originally published by the now-defunct Midway Games, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The upcoming collection contains Joust, Rampage, Gauntlet, Defender, Marble Madness, Spy Hunter, and more that haven’t been announced yet but that you probably remember playing once or twice before. Warner Bros. has also announced that while Origins doesn’t have online multiplayer, it does feature online leaderboards and Trophies/Achievements.
This is a relatively new idea for Warner Bros., but before Midway declared bankruptcy in 2009 (and had most of its assets bought up by WB), it was a big fan of putting some version of all its classic arcade games on every possible platform. Going as far back as 1995, Midway was selling console-based ports of the same games you could just as easily find at any arcade … assuming you could still find an arcade.
Now, counting Origins, Midway and Warner Bros. have done this over a dozen times. That’s enough for us to make a collection of the collections, so with the help of MobyGames’ exhaustive database, we’ve done just that. Check out the gallery below for a trip back through time and explore the rich and exciting history of Midway’s classic game compilations. Of course, you won’t find very much information about the classic games themselves, so just think of this as more of a museum of museums. It has a fraction of the educational value and a fraction of the fun!
Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits
Historians consider this one of the earliest Midway arcade collections, with some version of it appearing on the Super Nintendo, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, and PC. It contains Defender, Defender II, Joust, Robotron: 2084, and the ever-terrifying Sinistar. RUN, COWARD.
Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Midway Collection 2
Introducing the tradition of giving these things confusing names, this followup to the non-existant Midway Collection 1 appeared on PlayStation and PC. It features Joust again, but this time adds Spy Hunter (which will inspire a movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that thankfully never comes out), Root Beer Tapper, Burger Time, and more.
Midway’s Arcade Party Pak
The hideous box art for this 1999 collection might distract you from realizing it's the most radical in the series, but the purposeful misspelling of "pack" and the inclusion of titles like Rampage, Toobin', and Smash TV prove that this PlayStation exclusive is for the coolest kids only.
Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits: Volume 1
Sort of a greatest hits collection of the first two greatest hits collections, slightly different versions of this game appeared on the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and Game Boy Advance in 2000. Spy Hunter and Root Beer Tapper are only on the N64, but the Dreamcast replaces them with Defender II and Bubbles. Some people say that losing Spy Hunter to Nintendo here is what killed Sega as a hardware developer.
Midway’s Greatest Arcade Hits: Volume 2
Except they made another one that was only on Dreamcast and did have Spy Hunter. Unfortunately, this would be the final Midway arcade collection for Sega's console ... but that might have more to do with running out of games to collect than the system being discontinued.
Midway Arcade Treasures
The most interesting thing about this collection -- other than that it contains a ridiculous amount of games (24!) -- is that it was also rereleased with new box art and with a number 1 added to the title. Of course, serious collection collectors will only want the original version, which came out in 2003 for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC.
Midway Arcade Treasures 2
The big selling point for this 2004 collection was obviously its focus on Midway's rich history of fighting games, as it contains what some consider the genre's finest outing: Primal Rage, a game where giant monkeys try to kill dinosaurs. It also has Mortal Kombat II, which some people also like.
Midway Arcade Treasures 3
With games like Hydro Thunder, San Francisco Rush: 2049, and the generically titled Race Drivin', Treasures 3 (released in 2005) is clearly the selection for fans who feel the need for speed ... but not the Need For Speed, because those are Electronic Arts games.
Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play
The first collection to appear on a handheld in five years, 2005's Extended Play was exclusive to the PSP and added the original Mortal Kombat to what is otherwise little more than another greatest hits collection in a series of greatest hits collections. Also, you can also play this one in the bathroom, which is always good.
Midway Arcade Treasures: Deluxe Edition
Due to the fact that it is literally a collection of collections, some see the PC-only Deluxe Edition as the Holy Grail of Midway arcade compilations. Released in 2006, it contained all of Treasures 2 and Treasures 3 as well as the original Mortal Kombat. Sure, it's a little redundant, but a serious collection collector doesn't worry about that.
Midway Arcade iOS
Prior to Origins, Midway Arcade on iOS was the most recently released collection. Unlike the others, it is completely digital. That means you'll have to encase your entire iPhone in clear plastic if you want to display it on a shelf with the rest. This compilation lets you navigate a 3D arcade and select which games you'd like to play, but you have to buy most of them separately, making it sort of like being in a real arcade ... except everything is more expensive. Also, we do not recommend encasing your iPhone in clear plastic.
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*OK, Franklin never actually said that … but we’re pretty sure that if he were still around, old tech-lovin’ Ben would play video games all the time. Well, at least when he wasn’t using the Internet to meet women.