SNK 40th Anniversary Collection - PS4 Review


The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection represents a far different age in gaming than what people are used to today, both for better and for worse. Regardless of whether or not the arcade and NES collection of titles appeals to someone personally, almost everyone should agree that the way that this collection was lovingly put together is impressive and shows how a compilation of classic games should be done.

We will be tackling this review as a collective as well - specifically Nick and Chris, who are two gamers from decidedly different eras. Nick grew up on arcade cabinets and a TI/994a while Chris at literally half of his age and grew up in the PlayStation and Xbox era. They had differing opinions of the games themselves, but had some consistent thoughts around the packaging.

Nick:

I had played some of these arcade titles back when I was a little kid (Ikari Warriors), but admittedly there were some I had not played either (Vanguard). Conversely I grew up on the console games - I used to rent titles on the weekends for my NES, so games like the Ikari Warriors and Crystalis I was incredibly familiar with. Some of these titles have aged better than others, but at the core of most of them - they are meant to be challenging games because arcade cabinets were meant to eat your quarters.

Chris: 

Crystalis is literally the only one of these games I had ever played before. Sure, Ikari Warriors I had heard of - any game that spawns a trilogy is something I have at least some periphery knowledge of. That being said, this entire collection is going to be something different I can tell.


Nick:

So, I had a chance to review this game for the Nintendo Switch when it first released, and obviously not a lot has changed here. I mean, these are faithful translations of games from decades ago - it makes sense that the overall repackaging of them hasn't changed in four months going from Switch to PS4. That being said, I am glad that the entire collection is available right out of the box here. The Switch had something of an odd release in the way that some of the games only became available later via patching and acquisition through the Nintendo shop.

Chris:

Well, speaking of the packaging, I have to say that the way the titles are presented here is really nice. While I may not have been familiar with the actual catalog prior to this, I have played plenty of other collections and my initial impression was that the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was thought through a lot more carefully than plenty of others. The ability to choose regions for the games, play with settings that impact lives and difficulty to even cosmetic items like how large to make the actual game screen and whether or not to apply a couple of filtering options is really impressive. I read how Digital Eclipse was really trying to take an almost museum-like approach to the curation of these titles, and that really comes through here. At twenty I'm way too young to have ever experienced the included documentation, advertisements and the history of the titles. I imagine Nick (at forty two years old) has more experience with these items.

Nick:

Are you implying that I belong in a museum?

Chris: 

You said it, not me.


Nick:

Moving on... Chris is not entirely wrong (at least about me remembering the materials, not that I belong in a museum) - I do recall a lot of these items first-hand. There is box art to games I owned and had lining up along the shelf right behind my couch I grew up playing my NES on. I will say that one of the things I really like is that titles that worked better as twin-stick shooters fare far better now than they did when titles like Ikari Warriors got ported over to the NES control pad. Granted, in the arcade version of some of these games, they were not actually dual stick, but for all intents and purposes, they play great that way in this collection. Many of these games were built around the idea of movement in any direction while firing in any direction. You see that more commonly in a game like Ikari Warriors or TNKIII, which are top-down shooters. I had never played Vanguard before this collection came out, but you again move with the right stick and can use buttons or the left stick to fire in any one of four directions - and this is a side-scrolling space shooter. There were some really cool ideas at play here, given the release dates of these games originally.

Chris: 

I have to say Vanguard was something of a surprise to me. Technically it is a side-scrolling shooter, but the environments do shift and change, causing you to move up or down as well. It was a bit off-putting right at first, but actually surprisingly innovative for the time I would think.

Nick:

Okay, so let's talk about the games. As I mentioned before in my first paragraph, the majority of these games were made to be hard. The arcade versions lived solely to eat your quarters and the NES games were really just ports of these. That usually meant that the games were relatively short in nature, so to give them shelf life, they had to be hard. Clearly, my reflexes are not what they used to be (don't even start, Chris), and I recall being better at these games a few decades ago. Still, I dig the collection overall. There is a heavy emphasis on shooters, which makes sense given the arcade roots most of these titles had. SNK has a wealth of fighting games, ones far better than the acade version of Street Smart included with this package, but those are often sold in other packages on the PlayStation and Xbox stores, so I didn't really expect them to be part of this collection. Crystalis is obviously a bit of an oddball titles when compared to the rest, as it was a fantastic Legend of Zelda-like title that I bought on a whim when it came out on the NES, and I loved it. Off of the top of my head, it seems like SNK had a handful of racing / sports titles that might have made good inclusions with this set as well. So what did you think of the games themselves, Chris?

Chris:

This is where we are diverging a bit. We both appreciate the overall package that the collection comes in, but I admit that most of these games just didn't do it for me. Granted, they're hard - and I certainly made use of the save game and rewind features. It is also worth noting that I enjoyed the 'watch' feature, which is a little weird, but exactly what it sounds like. The game basically plays itself and you watch. That was handy for me, given how unfamiliar I was with most of these titles. Now, that being said, most of these are just not games I would probably play more than a handful of times today. Maybe because I don't have Nick's rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, but titles like TNKIII just annoyed me. Unlike Nick, my reflexes are still in their prime (you didn't honestly think I would let that comment of yours go, did you?) and I consider myself quite good at a lot of 'harder' games today, such as quick-twitch shooters or the Souls titles. But titles like TNKIII were less about reflexes and more about just getting pummeled so the cabinet could steal my next virtual quarter. I mean, you are driving around a tank, so I don't expect it to be real zippy, but in the later stages enemies are frequently killing me in just one or two hits while there is literally so much going on that I can't effectively move and shoot back.


Nick:

You were getting a bit miffed while playing that game.

Chris:

Yeah, and you were loving it. Jerk. Anyways, those titles just felt kind of shallow to me. Maybe it's like Nick said earlier - they were not really made to be all that long. Once I learned the mechanics and grumbled through some of the cheaper deaths in some of the games, I beat them and then... don't really see much of a reason to go back. That being said, I had played Crystalis before and already liked it (as a big fan of just about all Zelda games, which this is pretty similar to the first one in the series), and of the shooters Ikari III and Prehistoric Isle were probably my favorites. You could just tell that those games were slightly more modern than something like Zma Wars. Also, I thought Athena was pretty fun. I would have loved to see a couple of the classic SNK fighting games show up in here, but most of them were in the 90's I believe (still before my time) where as this collection felt more focused on the 80's. So, there are some fun gems to play, but I personally did not get the most out of the overall collection.

Nick:

I think that's fair, Chris. I would agree that there is probably a bit of a lack of replay value in some of these games. I'll also admit that I had not thought about the 'Watch' mode the same way, as you probably needed to learn about the titles in a way I didn't. most of the ones mentioned align with my favorites as well - I like games with progression like Crystalis, so it makes sense that something with a lot more depth to it like Crystalis, which also happens to feel like the most modern game, is both of our favorites. That being said, I think that there is something to be said about games that have multiplayer providing some co-op craziness that creates its own kind of replay value as well.

So in my review for the Switch, I scored this an 8.25 and I am still comfortable with that score today. Where do you stand?

Chris:

I mean, as far as collections go, this is a great framework. I just wish there were a handful more games with more meat to them. I'm going to say 7.25. So we split the difference and go with a 7.75?

Nick:

7.75 it is. I think it is safe to say that the care and attention that went until putting this collection together is fantastic overall, though the games themselves are certainly more niche in nature. Arcade and NES enthusiasts who enjoy action games (especially shooters) will probably have the most fun with this compilation, however.

Game Information

Platform:
PlayStation 4
Developer(s):
SNK
Digital Eclipse
Publisher(s):
NIS America
Genre(s):
Compilation
Mode(s):
Single Player
Multiplayer
Other Platform(s):
Switch

Source:
Provided by Publisher




Article by Nick
Article by Chris H.
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