Wednesday, September 22, 2010

R.I.P. Midway

Mortal Kombat, Robotron 2084, Smash TV, Rampage, Defender, Gauntlet; I could honestly make this post a list of classic arcade games released over the years by Midway. They were one of the giants in gaming for close to 20 years. Their legacy was carved in arcades. The downside of that though, when the bottom fell out of the arcade scene, it seemed like the bottom fell out of Midway's business. Sad thing too, especially considering how much promise some of their projects were. Let's be honest, if it wasn't for the horrible loading times, Blitz: The League would have been something special. The Suffering was a decent horror action game, but a few nagging issues kept it from being better than the Resident Evil series. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was a piece of co op action game greatness, but for whatever reason, it just didn't sell. Midway survived those last few years primarily because of their illustrious back catalog of arcade games, but attempts at bringing a few of those franchises to the present with updated graphics and new gameplay mechanics. The problem was, a lot of these games were sad imitations of there classic big brothers. Spy Hunter, for example, wasn't bad when the remake hit the PS2 and Xbox, but the sequels to that remake were utterly horrible, because they tried too hard. Narc is another example of Midway trying too hard to bring back a classic game. Narc was a hard boiled, hyper gritty shooter, but the remake was a blatant rip off of True Crime, which wasn't that good a game to rip off in the first place. Out of all the games that they did bring back, Gauntlet and Rampage were the two that stayed true to the original formula, and were largely successful because of that fact. The economy, combined with poor sales of it's new games, led to Midway dying a quiet death. Many of it's franchises were sold off, and high profile reboots of NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat are on the horizon, and a remake of the speedboat racing game, Hydro Thunder, was recently released, though I'm not sure if that was a good thing after seeing how bad it turned out. Regardless of how bad they looked going out, Midway will always be remembered as THE giant in arcade gaming through the "golden age" of gaming.

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