Once again we have another Midway collection, but this time it actually has a paticular theme: racing. If you've played or owned a Midway collection in the past, you know that they conatin a handfull of classic games emulated for a console. Well, this one isn't much different, except a couple of games are actually ports, not emulations. So let's get down to brass tacks, what is in the collection? Midway cuts the list of games by over half from the last collection, but there's a fairly good reason why. In this collection, you'll get HydroThunder, San Francisco Rush, San Francisco Rush 2049, STUN Runner, Offroad Thunder, Race Drivin, Badlands and Super Off-Road. Yeah, there are only 8 games instead of 20 this time, but some of the games are pretty large.
The collection is very solid, but I felt a little underwhelmed after waiting so long for the collection, basically because I've played many of these games before (I still actually own one of the games in the collection). But if you haven't had the chance to play any of these games, especially RUSH 2049, this is a collection very much worth your time. Much of the games are emulated, except for RUSH 2049 and HydroThuner, which were ported from the Dreamcast. So how do they fare?
San Francisco Rush 2049 is the biggest game in the collection, and it's a port of the Dreamcast version, which had the extra modes and features the arcade game lacked. I spent a lot of time on the Dreamcast build, so I was curious to see how this port stacked up. The port holds up pretty well, but there are a couple of problems, as well as a fix or two. The color seems more washed out in this version than the Dreamcast original, and the textures obviously seem PS2-ized. There's also a little bit of "screen tearing" that wasn't evidendt in the DC build, but the framerate issue when particles were kicked up have been fixed. But some of the effects, like the flames or the lava lamp on course 2, didn't turn out so well. As for HydroThunder, it's nearly the same as the Dreamcast version, but the framerate seems to drag a little more than I remember.
As for the rest, the original San Francisco Rush is optimized with a smoother framerate, but the game really doesn't offer as much as the N64 port did, so replay value is more limited. Also, the sound isn't that great. STUN Runner, which I waited years to see on a collection, finally makes an appearance, but it's not 100% accurate. The framerate fluctates all over the place, and the sound design is not from the arcade version I remember (I'm thinking that there were two versions of STUN Runner in arcades with different effects), but screw it, it's STUN Runner and I'm happy. Race Drivin has a better framerate, but doesn't feel different from Hard Drivin, which was offered in MAT2. Badlands is fine, but it's really a new version of Super Sprint. Super Offroad is decent, but it's a little jumpy on the controls, and it's just not that exciting. And there always has to be a dark horse in a collection, which in this case, it's Offroad Thunder. This is not what appeared on the Dreamcast, which was called 4 Wheel Thunder. No, this is a craptacular racing game that sounds awful and just doesn't compare to HydroThunder.
While much of the games are solid in this collection, you can't help but feel like we've been short-changed this time around. As I said, there are only 8 games, and while four of them could be pretty large in size, I can imagine a couple more games can fit. I know Midway couldn't put the Cruisn' games in here due to the partnership with Nintendo, but there was California Speed and Offroad Challenge. Still, even 8 games in one collection is still a decent value, especially if you've never played Rush 2049 before.
MAT3 may not have the largest selection, at least a couple of the games have some actual depth this time, compared to the shallow experience we get in much of the other arcade games. It would have been nice if the emulations were tighter and the ports were sharper and optimized, but this is still a solid package, especially if you like racing games.