Not the collection we expected
When one of the GBF’s (Giant Beard Face’s) bestowed upon me the chance to review the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, I am not going to lie, I was more than a bit excited. It brought me back to my teens and I reminisced about hanging around with my friends, playing football, Arsenal being good, all the SNK Arcade classics Samurai Showdown, Fatal Fury, The Art of Fighting, Super Sidekicks, Metal Slug and many more and Pamela Anderson and Kelly Brooks breasts (if I am honest not a lot has changed, other than Arsenal’s slight fall from grace).
Imagine my horror when I realised none of these games were included in the collection and some of these games were up to 40 years old?! I mean who is that old and can remember games from way back then? It felt like Pammy had been replaced by Deirdre Barlow. Anyhow, the question is, is this collection any good? Let’s find out.
The collection of 24 games is contained in a 1.3GB package, which, coincidentally was the same size as the Pamela and Tommy Lee vid. The official list of games as follows:
- Alpha Mission
- Ikari Warriors
- Victory Road
- Ikari 3 The Rescue
- Guerrilla War
- Prehistoric Isle
- Psycho Soldier
- Street Smart
- TNK III
- Fantasy (thankfully Chopper and Fantasy are two different games)
- Munch Mobile
- Sasuke vs Commander
- Time Soldiers
- Beast Busters
- Bermuda Triangle
- ZMA Wars
- Paddle Mania
- SAR Search and Rescue
- World Wars
Which is a decent number of games wrapped up in a single package. I dare say there are a number of titles you recognise instantaneously, so how do they hold up? That’s probably the important question, or maybe not if you are a big retro enthusiast used to playing games of a bygone era.
My view is, life’s been tough on old video games. Technology, graphics, colours, sound and controllers have moved on so much in the past 40 years. As great as games have been, and I have nothing but respect for in their place in history, nostalgia and those rose-tinted specs have often left me disappointed when revisiting games from my gaming past.
Arcade games are a particularly peculiar animal
Back in the day the term “arcade perfect” was a well-coined phrase and every gamer spoke of and hoped for that arcade-perfect conversion on their home system. At the time it felt nigh on impossible as the machines at the arcade packed pack a lot more punch. The best games, certainly in terms of audio and visually, were down your local arcade. How times have changed. Local arcades are now rarer than hen’s teeth, and the games in our living rooms now more often than not exceeding that of the arcade. You don’t realise how good you have it you crazy kids.
The versions within this collection feature an updated 4K graphical makeover with various screen settings and filters to add those traditional scan lines for that authentic retro arcade look. Due to the age of these titles, they do all look as aged as you would expect. I am sure for retro gamers, this is nothing but a positive note. You can see these are high-quality reproductions/conversions that have been both accurately and lovingly recreated from their source material whilst staying totally true to it.
If your not very good at games, or find the often punishing arcade difficulty is too much, there is a button to rewind gameplay or infinite credits to use. Meaning you can see all games through to their completion rather than relying on almost supernatural gaming abilities or the financial backing of Bill Gates. Along with the original arcade versions of the game, a number of the titles have home console ports. It is a nice touch, but it did demonstrate the gulf between arcade versions of games of this period against their home console counterparts. To be honest, I am not convinced I would want to play any of the console versions on offer here when the arcade version is available also. But it is a nod to games history and the evolution it has been through.
I won’t cover off every game on the collection
But some of the high, and lowlights of my time with games featured on the collection. Prehistoric Isle was one of the very first arcade games I had ever played, I had quite a fond memory of the game. Whilst the game was still very much playable, it did feel a more standard affair than I remembered. Which has probably now tainted my memory of this game, or given me a stark realisation. It was certainly enjoyable enough for me to play through to the end. Something I had never managed previously.
Street Smart, again another one of my earlier arcade memories, actually held up really or as well as beat em up from its era could and was still enjoyable enough with its 2 player mode. After defeating the CPU, it is still really gratifying beating the living daylights out of your teammate after each round (not that they may enjoy it). This is exactly the sort of game I would have craved for an arcade-perfect conversion at the time.
Beast Busters really is a light gun game at heart. Porting light gun games to home consoles without a gun has always seemed a waste of time to me. I honestly cannot think of a single game where it has been more fun to play without a light gun, than with. The pureness of a light gun, just stripped away. Thanks to Modern day TVs we may not see any for a while either.
POW was worth a playthrough although it felt very basic even for a scrolling beat’em up. It did contain the use of weapons which, to be fair, was ahead of its time when released as not every example had this as an option.
Guerrilla War surprised me as its a top-down shooter, despite being a different viewpoint, seemed to be laying the foundations for one of my favourite gaming series, Metal Slug. Rescuing semi-naked men tied to posts, driving tanks, and that flamethrower weapon. Amazing how looking back you can see how ideas have developed in time with technology advancements.
Whilst overall presentation of the package is certainly good with some nice touches including the pre-mentioned scan lines for an authentic arcade look, or the screen resizing and frames or the game artwork frames, or the museum. I do not think the presentation element was quite at the level the package that Rare put out a few years ago. But it is certainly very good and easy to navigate around any features you care to take further interest in.
I did enjoy my time with the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection and a number of the games held up pretty well looking beyond the fact most arcade games were as shallow as a puddle (for obvious reasons, they were meant to be an action fix to gobble as much of your money as possible). A bit like Pammy, some of these games are still worth a look
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox
Release Date: 03/05/2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: Retro, Action
Download link: Microsoft Store