SNK Playmore has been in a nostalgic mood lately. They have been releasing much of their back catalog in the form of compilations and anthologies. This is good for all those old school gamers who couldn’t afford a Neo Geo back in the day. While this could be seen as a good thing, they have also used the same games on more than one occasion, causing collectors and people looking for that old school fix to have a sense of déjà vu.
Of all the recent releases by SNK, SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1 is definitely the best with games like Fatal Fury, Baseball Stars 2, Metal Slug, and Samurai Shodown on the disc. 14 other games round out the list, with gems like King of Fighters ‘94 and King of the Monsters. Each game comes with a list of objectives, that when achieved, unlocks move lists, artwork and other material. This is a nice touch, because some of the previous compilations released by SNK have been very bare bones.
Each game is a perfect port of its arcade version, which is a blessing and a curse. While the games you loved so long ago are just as you remember them, you also see just how much technology has advanced in such a short time. The graphics and the gameplay scream old school and may turn off those who grew up with FMV’s and 3D in their games. Older players though will love it.
The fighting games on the disc are some of the better ones from the era, with King of Fighters ‘94 and Samurai Showdown topping the list. With some of the genres more innovating features, such as moving into the background and foreground during gameplay and picking a team of 3 for a fight, the games in the collection also show their age. The painfully slow gameplay may have been OK back then, but it just doesn’t stack up today. Balance, gameplay and graphics are also points that just don’t feel right in this day and age. That’s not to say these games are bad, they just show their age.
The collection also contains a number of sports games ranging from baseball to golf. These games are some of the high points of the disc, with hilarious characters and cutscenes. Some may be frustrated with the simple controls when compared to more recent sports games. These games go to prove that simplistic controls can still make a fun game as long as the personality is there.
Action games on the disc pale in comparison to the previously mentioned games. They mainly consist of mashing the attack button, hoping your character can hit your opponent through glitch controls. Some of the gameplay in Magician Lord is fun, but sadly, these games are the low point of this collection.
This brings me to the reason most people are going to buy this anyway, Metal Slug. The side scrolling shooter is one of the great games of yesteryear and sits atop plenty of Top 20 Games of All Time lists. The action is fast, the visuals incredible (for their time), and the gameplay is pure joy. If you haven’t played this game before, you owe it to yourself to pick this up and play it to see what all the hype is about.
SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1 is one of the few compilation games worth owning. With the roster of games holding more than a few classic games, as well as the godly Metal Slug, this is truly a great collection. The unlockables give you a reason to delve into the games, but the old school gameplay may turn off some gamers. Overall, at such a low price point, it’s worth the price of admission for the old school SNK goodness that can be found here.
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