Revisiting my childhood: Midtown Madness 1 and 2

Ah, nostalgia…

Based on ‘date created’ metadata for some files I’ve dug up, around the year 2002 I was first introduced to two PC games: Microsoft Midtown Madness, and Midtown Madness 2. I was 12 at the time.

At the time I was rocking a more-than-second-hand white box PC with a 150MHz Pentium Pro, 64MB of RAM, a 2.5GB Quantum Bigfoot, ATI Rage + 3DFX Voodoo2, and Netzero’s monthly 10 free hours of dial-up. That computer is the first one I ever “worked on”, in the form of adding hard drives harvested from discarded computers at the roadside. Desperate times, desperate measures?

I had been introduced to gaming-capable computers, and the games themselves, by my then-Big Brother (the mentoring program, not a sibling). He went above and beyond in that role exposing me to technology and experiences that I may not have had access to otherwise, which played a major role in developing hobbies and interests I’ll have for life. Paul, we haven’t spoken in a long time now, but I do hope you know how much I appreciate those years.

So, those games. Titles that come to mind…Viper Racing, NFS III Hot Pursuit, NFS IV High Stakes, Half-Life, Redline Racer, and yes…Midtown Madness 1 and 2.

I particularly loved the Midtown Madness games, and it didn’t take long before I discovered the thriving enthusiast community developing add-on maps, vehicles and other mods for them. MM2 was probably the better game, but MM1 had the content that appealed to me. Honourary mentions go out to Revolution Racing, BOX Designs, Qwerty_86, TEK_Xacto…the names that stuck with me all this time, after seeing them in so many Readme.txts. Qwerty, your ‘daily driver’ class of cars made MM1 so relatable, so real…you may appreciate knowing my first real car (many years later) was a box Grand Marquis.

I spent hours browsing the content created by so many people, downloading the smaller files on my 56k and paying a visit to my aunt with DSL for the larger ones. I invested in my own box of floppy disks – yes, floppy disks – to transport all those downloaded Zips from her computer to my own. I learned how to create spanned zip files so I could get those files on those disks. Even today, those experiences make me keep floppies on the mental radar as a valid means of moving data, even though it’s totally irrational. Long live Sneakernet!

Eventually, the Pentium Pro box was replaced with a Pentium II. The Pentium II was replaced with an AthlonXP. The AthlonXP was replaced by a Sempron 2800. During the life of the Sempron box, I picked up a laptop (Inspiron 630m, Pentium M) and maintaining my desktop PC lost any sort of priority as my focus shifted to college studies. My love of cars driven on computers shifted to cars driven on asphalt. Eventually, the Dell was replaced by my current ThinkPad W520 (Sandy Bridge i7), and later I built a Sandy Bridge i5 desktop to complement the ThinkPad.

Through all those changes, though…across all those OS, Win95-98-ME-2k-XP-XP64-7…there was one configuration constant: my number one priority from the first moment of use was making sure that Midtown Madness 1 and 2 would work. Even if that was the only time I’d run the game for a 3 year period, I made sure they would work so I could play at will.

That’s how we get here today. I recently upgraded the Windows 7 install on my ThinkPad W520 to Windows 10, and almost compulsively, I dug out those familiar files from my oldest external hard drive, containing the game files and all the add-on Zips I downloaded so many years ago.

Lo and behold, the first Windows OS that I can’t make these games work on. Midtown.exe and Midtown2.exe both error on launch with: The application was unable to start correctly (0xc0000022). Click OK to close the application. Lost cause? Surely not…

midtown.exe - Application Error - The application was unable to start correctly (0xc0000022). Click OK to close the application.

I made a new partition and installed 7 in a dual-boot config. Win10 for everything, but Win7 for my beloved games. I did eventually find that manually installing DirectPlay (it’s in Control Panel\Programs & Features\Turn Windows Features On or Off\Legacy Components) rectifies the error, and the games will launch…but compared to Win7, there are weird performance issues, so Win7 will stay.

I got to thinking about how cool it would be to set up a “LAN” game via Hamachi or equivalent for my friends, some of whom shared interest in these titles. I tested that idea out with MM1 with a high degree of success, but my D-Link DIR-850L is doing something that kills the multiplayer communication. Hamachi works, but a true LAN game either refuses to connect to begin with, or drops out during gameplay. For my testing, I set up a handful of laptops (I have far too many hanging around) and an old WRT54G to put them on their own little network.

MM2, unfortunately, doesn’t want to display correctly on either the Intel HD3000 or Nvidia Quadro 2000M my laptop is equipped with. It plays smoothly, but behaves quite poorly (video link).

The considerable time I’ve spent in MM1 over the last week or so has reignited my passion for this game, weird as it may sound. I have GTA V, I have GRID 2. I have Hell, I even have Euro Truck Sim 2. But MM1 still holds a weird, special little place in my heart, and even today I can still enjoy playing it.

7 thoughts on “Revisiting my childhood: Midtown Madness 1 and 2

  1. BonzoG

    Hey, thanks for this post! It was nice to read about a similar experience with MM1/MM2 and brought back loads of memories. I was 11 when MM1 came out . Met loads of likeminded players through the MSN Gaming Zone, even kept in touch with a few IRL. A few of us would make custom buses for the game and meet up regularly in multiplayer sessions to tour around London. Even had our own bus company paint schemes at one point. I think I must have scraped almost every decent mod from back in the day as well – I’ve just discovered the MM1 Archipelago map has an MM2 version now so that’s getting tried on my ‘retro’ P3 rig tonight!

    Of course I tried MM3 on the original Xbox when it came out, but ‘matchmaking’ style lobbies and the closed platform (no mods) meant the community just wasn’t there, and I’m sad the franchise died out. Great times on the way though.

  2. RFD960

    For MM1 to run fine on WIN10 – DGVoodoo
    For MM2 – DGVoodoo & MM2Hook
    Thank me later

  3. Kevin Kartwell

    Dude! I was totally part of this MM1&2 Community back in the day!

    I remember Qwerty, TEK_Xacto, Box Designs, Paul_7, Burner, Rocket. My name was Camaro on the old forums. I can barely remember any of the websites names these days unfortunately but I was in love with this game. I made a few cars and wanted to begin making tracks but thats when I fell off. I gave Qwerty the model and textures for the Parisienne he did. If you have the car installed. Check the readme ;)

    I also made a 1949 Ford Pickup, 69 Camaro , 1970 Camaro, 1986 Camaro SS, and I think I released an 1996 or 7 Eclipse too.

    Anyways, I recently rebuilt a super old computer and reinstalled everything I had for MM1 and 2, all the tracks, cars, 3D Studio Max, Z-Modeller, the Vehicle Creation Kits, .ar extractors etc. I have been playing it again for a few weeks now. Its super nostalgic and Im just as addicted as I was back then lol. I’m going to make a track lol.

    Anyways, figured Id leave a message here since I saw your post. I’m glad Im not the only super fan of these games.

    1. kishy Post author

      Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you found this post :)
      I remember some of your creations…it’s funny how absolutely useless that knowledge is, in the overall scheme of things, yet how long it’s stayed with me.

      I’m currently collecting the parts to rebuild that Pentium Pro system I described in the post, specifically for the purpose of playing the games I played back then. Right down to details such as the Quantum Bigfoot, because they have a very unique sound, even though many better hard drives are available to me. Case, CPU, RAM, video card, Voodoo2, sound card, HDD. Just looking for a socket 8 motherboard now.

      Unfortunately (depending on your perspective) while the current pandemic is buying a lot of people more time for their hobbies, I work for a first responder and therefore am busier than ever. When this all clears up I’m planning to spend some time in-game.

  4. Abdul Rupar Bin Abdul Wahab

    why an android base unable to produced the same mm quality game?


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