It is amazing to examine just how much gaming has changed over the years. From the humble beginnings of things like Pong all the way to Red Dead Redemption 2, the western open world juggernaut recently released. So with an industry that has been going on for so long, it comes as no surprise that some names rise and others fall from the heights of mainstream popularity.
SNK certainly fits the bill for a developer that use to have far greater influence that it possesses now, but with the release of their 40th Anniversary Collection will it be evident as to why they garnered so much praise in prior years? Or will this Collection be an example of when some games just don’t age well?
Boasting a collection of 14 titles (kind of) from the arcade and home systems spread over all different genres. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection brings modern gamers a collection of titles from SNK’s golden age and lets them access all these titles from one cart. Shoot em up fans will delight in titles like Prehistoric Isle, Vanguard, and Alpha Mission, Beat em up fans can break some jaws in P.O.W, Run n Gun fans will be able to sink hours into the Ikari Warriors trilogy, fans of legendary titles like the original Legend of Zelda will be pleasantly surprised by Crystalis and then there’s even more to play like Psycho Solider, Street Smart, Guerilla War, TNK3, Iron Tank, and Athena.
For the most part every title in the collection has stood the test of time, however some not quite so much. Iron Tank felt a bit underwhelming and a victim to the limited control option of its hardware, Vanguard seemed to be totally outclassed by other shmups on the collection and Street Smart was just weird. It is fighting game and beat em up hybrid, but I can see why the idea hasn’t carried over to modern times. Apart from these three titles everything else on offer was a great joy to play.
With the recent release of NSO I noticed as I played through the NES games on offer that many just haven’t aged so well. So as I jumped into this collection I remained cautious of this fact. Whilst the games certainly show there age in some of their surrounding features the actual gameplay on offer remains strong. Whilst some of the Console versions of the games didn’t play as well and I feel most will stick the Arcade versions, it is evident from some of these games why SNK was such a big name in the 80s.
As far as I am aware none of these games have had any changes made to them from their original releases, but there are a number of extra features added to help out whilst giving these retro classics a try. Most notably is the “rewind” button and “watch” option. The former allows you to rewind in real time as you are playing. Perfect for learning enemy strategies and alleviating the soul crushing difficulty on offer. The “watch” option lets you watch a perfect run of each game and literally take over whenever you’d like. Whilst you do have unlimited continues, it is a nice way to enable you to jump to any level you would like. It is worth noting the option to save is on offer as well.
Options and Extras
Not only is this title a collection of retro classics, but also a nice little collection of some of SNK’s history. A Museum of their history is on offer that lets you look at all their titles released from 1978-1990 accompanied by a brief slideshow and a explanation and history of the game. Soundtracks for every game on the collection are available for those who want to listen to some vintage game soundtracks minus the extreme difficulty of each title. Then finally you can view the original arcade guide books, adverts and a few behind the scenes bits of info about the infamous SNK game never to be released “Tangram Q”. The presentation and delivery of these extra bits is excellent and for something I thought I wouldn’t be interested in at all, I must say I can see myself getting sucked into the slideshows of each games history.
Back to the Arcade and I have even more options to unveil. On top of being able to play the Arcade or Console versions of each game if available, you can also swap between regions. Each game allows you to map the controls any way want and also some game specific rules to tweak, like PvP kills being enabled in Ikari Warriors. As I have mentioned all the of these games are brutally difficult and to my shock I discovered that not only could you set the difficulty for the majority of the titles, but the default setting was easy.
We recently published a list of our own favourite couch co-op games for the Switch and if I had played SNK 40th Anniversary Collection I very well could’ve seen myself submitting this. Most of the games have co-op and are a great deal of fun to play with friends. Sadly none of the titles offer single joy-con support which is a shame. Some simply cannot, but by sacrificing the rewind button a few could, so a shame they didn’t give this option. There is some minor slowdown in some titles, but nothing get upset about. With nearly every detail looked at it is time to bring up my biggest flaw of the game. At $40 I felt that 14 titles on offer felt a bit too steep, but I was soon pleasantly surprised by the fact that 11 more games were being released as free DLC making my only major problem a moot point.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was provided by NIS America.