SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Review – A Great Collection For a New Generation

    Title: SNK 40th Anniversary Collection
    Developer: SNK
    Release Date: November 13, 2018
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: NISA
    Genre: Retro

Taking a trip down memory lane can either be delightful or miserable. There have been many times when I’ve played games that I loved as a kid and soon found out that certain games just don’t age all that well. However, comparing games from the past with modern day games, and making an assessment based off of simply comparing and contrasting, is in my opinion, unfair.

With that said, going into the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection for the first time was quite an experience for me. The reason for this is that the collection includes games that were released before I was even born, which was 1991. At the game selection screen in the collection’s Arcade mode, I had no idea which game to start with. But, after playing all of the games that are included, and seeing what the collection had to offer as a whole, I’m glad that I decided to go back to the olden days of SNK. I recommend that you should, too — if you’re on a quest for a full-fledged nostalgic experience.

Rather than sharing my thoughts on each game individually, I’ll simply be sharing what games are included and highlighting a few of my favorites — as this review focuses more on the overall content and presentation in the collection.

The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was crafted by Digital Eclipse, who, without a doubt, know how to make a solid old school game package since they were the ones responsible for the Mega Man Legacy Collection and the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. In Digital Eclipse’s SNK collection, they’ve included some hidden gems from SNK’s catalog of old-school classics that are mostly from the ‘80s. At launch, the collection includes the following 14 games: Alpha Mission, Athena, Crystalis, Guerilla War, Ikari Warriors, Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road, Ikari III: The Rescue, Iron Tank: Invasion of Normandy, P.O.W., Prehistoric Isle, Psycho Soldier, Street Smart, TNK III, and Vanguard.

Along with the 14 games that are already included, the collection will also get 11 more arcade games as free DLC — so you don’t have to worry about losing any of your precious quarters. A couple of the titles included in the collection only made it to arcades or to home consoles like the NES, but if possible, the collection does include both the arcade and home console versions of their titles, and even the Japanese and US versions of games. Including multiple variations for each game is a nice historical touch, and I’m sure it’ll make hardcore arcade fans and newcomers happy.

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While there are a ton of great games included in the collection, there are some that are bound to lose your interest pretty quickly. For me, I truly loved blasting my way through Ikari Warriors and Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road, both are top-down shooters, and the side-scroller shooter, Prehistoric Isle.

Side-scrolling action games, Athena, and it’s spiritual successor, Psycho Soldier, were also surprisingly fun to play as I enjoyed the upgrade system in Athena and the various magical power-ups in Psycho Soldier. On another note, Psycho Soldier’s theme song is absolutely adorable, and it made me have a nostalgic flashback of the days when I would watch Sailor Moon and other animes from the ’90s.

If you play one of the games in the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection then end up deciding that it’s not for you — or you just need some help finishing a game — the collection has a handful of handy-dandy features that are perfect for you. All of the games in the collection have been blessed with game-saving capabilities and a rewind feature.

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With the rewind feature, you can simply press and hold the “L bumper” to rewind back to any part of your playthrough for any game. For instance, if you make end up getting clobbered by one of the seven tough opponents in Street Smart, you can rewind back to the beginning of the fight to redeem yourself.

There’s also a “Watch” feature for most games that shows you a playthrough of the game, which gives you the chance to learn how to play a game or even just see how a game ends. In this feature, there’s the option to hop into a game at any time — so if one level just has you tearing your hair out, you can skip it completely and play the next one. Both the rewind feature and watch feature work really well and helped me out a ton when I was playing through some of the more challenging games in the collection.

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In addition to these features, you’re also given the power to adjust difficulty, lives, and other options. While I did kind of feel like I was cheating a bit by using the collection’s features and options, I have to admit that as a “new-school gamer”, using them made my experience with the collection far more enjoyable.

Since I was unfamiliar with SNK’s earlier days, I was pleased to discover that the collection includes an immense Museum mode to explore that’s chock full of historical goodies. In the mode, there’s an interactive SNK Complete Works 1978-1990 timeline that gives you an in-depth look at SNK’s first 12 years and the games the company released at the time, as the timeline includes screenshots, promotional material, and interesting tidbits. Being that I fell in love with Psycho Solider’s soundtrack, I decided to look through the game’s timeline and found out that the game featured the first vocal soundtrack in an arcade game, which I simply couldn’t believe.

The bonus features, like old SNK advertisements, guidebooks, and game soundtracks in the Museum mode are also satisfying additions that surely compliment the mode’s vast timeline feature. Needless to say, I was amazed by what I found in the mode, and it’s worth checking out — especially if you’re in love with retro gaming.

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The only qualms I have with the collection is that there are a few bugs that need to be taken care of. The rewind feature, while it worked for me most of the time, did stop rarely when I played the console versions of certain games. Also, there isn’t the option to play two-player multiplayer using a single Joy Con. According to the collection’s publisher, NIS America, there will be a day-one patch that’ll help make some minor improvements and fixes. I’m sure that with this patch, the minor issues I have with the collection will be resolved.

As the collection stands now, though, it’s a well-crafted and in-depth nostalgic package that Digital Eclipse should be proud of. Even though some of the games in the collection may not be for everyone, getting to know the vast history behind them is such a treat for classic SNK game fans and for new fans, like me.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.