IGN Review of SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1
Hey look, another compilation title from SNK. The company has been cranking out collections as of late and delivering a lot of old Neo Geo titles to modern gamers. Now, SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 (originally on the PS2 and PSP) throws sixteen old Neo Geo titles onto one disc. "16" seems like a pretty nice number, considering the fact that you're only paying about two dollars for each game on the collection. I know that Burning Fight and Magician Lord might not be on everybody's minds, but I had a pretty good time with Arcade Classics. The Wii version runs very nicely, especially when compared to the PS2, so it's definitely the version to buy if you're interested -- even though most of these games can be bought via Virtual Console.
You should know, before we get started, that I missed out on a lot of classic Neo Geo games when they were first released. Thus, I get intrinsic satisfaction out of playing older games that I haven't had much experience with before. I have a feeling that gamers in the same or a similar situation might feel this way as well. There's something very appealing about going back to the old stuff and giving it a spin, and that's exactly what's happening with Arcade Classics.
A very basic, retro-inspired menu organizes the games alphabetically and breaks down some basic information on the labels like the year of release, game genre and number of players. In case you want the specifics, the exact titles included on the collection are as follows: Art of Fighting, Baseball Stars 2, Burning Fight, Fatal Fury, King of the Monsters, Last Resort, Magician Lord, Metal Slug, Neo Turf Masters, Samurai Showdown, Sengoku, Shock Troopers, Super Sidekicks 3, The King of Fighters '94, Top Hunter and World Heroes.
You'll also notice that every game has a number of "Goals" to unlock. The tasks you must complete to fulfill these Goals are pretty straight-forward, like beating a game on a certain difficulty or going through a stage without using a continue. The rewards for accomplishing these Goals vary quite widely. Some will unlock art for other games on the collection while others will open up move lists for fighting game characters.
Having goals is a fantastic option, but the one thing I found very strange is the aforementioned unlocking of character moves. For example, say I want to play some Samurai Showdown but I can't figure out the special techniques of a certain character. That character's move list might be locked -- which is odd considering the nature of that information. Odder still is that in order to unlock those details I would need to play a game of Burning Fight, for example -- a completely different title. I understand that this promotes play time across the different games, but locking fundamental information is never a good idea.
As I said towards the beginning of this article, the Wii version runs very well with short load times and almost no in-game slowdown. Although it's hitting store shelves so long after the other versions, I'd still say that this is the best one to come along, which is great for Wii owners. I'm also very pleased that so many control schemes are provided for Arcade Classics. You have the option of playing with a single Wii Remote, a Remote and Nunchuck, a Classic Controller or a GameCube Controller. All these setups seem to work just fine, though using a single Remote can be tricky when playing certain titles that require a lot of buttons, like King of Fighters.
Arcade Classics is great when you get right down to the raw gameplay. This is, of course, assuming that you enjoy dabbling in older titles, which I definitely do. Baseball Stars 2, Top Hunter, Neo Turf Masters and Last Resort were among my favorites and offer a very simple but entertaining gameplay experience (I'm well aware that Last Resort is basically a clone of R-Type, but it's still a smashingly good time). A lot of these games are also great with a friend because the grand majority of them offer two-player options. You'll definitely have a few laughs when facing off with a buddy in Baseball Stars.
But the greatest strength of Arcade Classics is the diversity of the titles. Sports games, fighters, side-scrollers and shooters can all be found here and that's pretty neat. Even if you don't like playing some of these games (Sengoku), having a hearty chuckle at the poor translation and ancient art design is still amusing.
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