New Game Review

Review – SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (Switch)

Was there life before the Neo Geo?

My love for SNK can be traced back to my early childhood, mostly thanks to my parents’ previous work with trying to officially release the Neo Geo AES and CD consoles in my home country back in the day. I grew up with the Neo Geo CD and its abhorrent loading times, as well as countless fighting games and things like a Magician Lord and Cyber-Lip posters on my bedroom wall. Even though I grew up adoring the Shin Nihon Kikaku corporation and its post-1990 outings, I had little knowledge about its gaming library released prior to that. Luckily for me and other retro gaming enthusiasts out there, the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is finally out to showcase a little bit of that company’s early history.

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Remember Athena from SNK Heroines and SNK vs. Capcom? That’s where she came from.

The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is not your average SNK retro package. Neo Geo compilations are a dime a dozen, so this title focuses on something else. This focuses solely on games released prior to the launch of the Neo Geo brand, back in the days SNK would not only make arcade-focused titles. The collection spans tons of genres. You’ll find proto twin-stick shooters (Ikari Warriors, arguably the most famous game in this collection), simple 2D platformers (Psycho Soldier, where Athena from SNK Heroines came from), and even Zelda-inspired action RPGs thanks to the inclusion of Crystalis, the highlight of this collection.

You may think that the collection is underwhelming at first. There are 13 titles, some of them being mediocre duds at best. Thankfully, there’s more to it than meets the eye. SNK and developer Digital Eclipse, the go-to developer when it comes to retro collections, have included more than the original versions of those titles. In some cases, such as Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier, you can also play the NES ports, bumping the total amount of games to a more interesting 24. Add in the fact that eleven more games are going to be added as free DLC by the end of the year and you’ll end up having a collection that charges you a buck a game. All of those games can be slightly tweaked in terms of button placement customization and number of lives, when said game is an arcade title.

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“Satan of Saturn” is the best name for a psychedelic metal band I’ve ever seen. The logo is already appropriate for a band!

In true Billy Mays fashion, “but wait! There’s more!” The collection also features a wide assortment of older posters, fliers, trivia, and screenshots from other games not included in the base game as well. Gaming historians will most definitely be pleased.

While I have to commend Digital Eclipse for their porting efforts, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine and dandy. Let’s just say that some of these games are being way too well-emulated in this collection. That means that all of the gameplay, graphical, and framerate issues caused by their respective consoles’ limitations, as well as some unfair design choices from that era, are all intact. That is more noticeable in all NES ports. That’s a bittersweet thing to point out. Just like any other retro enthusiast, I like when a game plays exactly like it used to, but then again, some of those design choices and framerate issues have definitely not aged well. It’s all about knowing what you’re going to face prior to buying the collection.

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Crystalis is the best non-Zelda Zelda game for the NES.

This SNK collection isn’t for everyone. Fans of the company’s fighting games or overall Neo Geo outings might find this assortment of titles a bit off-putting, as it features everything from RPGs to old-school shooters. For those who are curious about the company’s early years, as well as those who are just into regular retro gaming in general, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is one charming little package full of gaming history, as well as some underrated gems and even more free content to be included later on.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Downright perfect graphical renditions of both the arcade and console counterparts of each game. Sadly, that also includes any graphical issues caused by each system’s limitations.

Gameplay: 7.5

Just like the graphics, any gameplay-related issues are mostly due to the limitations of said systems the games were released for. You can tweak some settings like difficulty and button placements, thankfully.

Sound: 7.0

Like the rest of the collection, the slight majority of tunes are pretty good, with others being forgettable. The 8-bit renditions are usually more charming than their arcade counterparts. It mostly depends on the game you’re playing.

Fun Factor: 8.0

With the exception of a few really boring entries, the vast majority of this collection is comprised of very fun games. Crystalis is a must-have.

Final Verdict: 7.5

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is available now on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was provided by the publisher.

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About Leo Faria

Founder and mastermind behind Way Too Many Games, hailing from the southern swag that is São Paulo, a Sega widower who considers the Dreamcast to be the greatest console ever released, the greatest Guitar Hero and Tetris player you’ll ever meet. My favorite games include Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, the Guitar Hero series, Bioshock Infinite and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II. I also own an Ouya. Never turned it on.

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