STAFF REVIEW of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (Xbox One)

Saturday, June 1, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Box art As a kid growing up in the 80’s, I got to experience a golden age of gaming. Not only did I have a Nintendo at home, but I would plunk fistfuls of quarters into my local arcade, something I wish still existed. While I played endless amounts of home console games, I can tell that by this SNK 40th Anniversary Collection that I’ve missed out on the far superior arcade versions of games I knew growing up.

Last year was the pinnacle 40th anniversary of the legendary studio SNK, hence this anniversary collection (even if it is a year late). Not only are there a ton of classics included here, but even more impressive is how much work went into making the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection something truly special with all of its extras and bonuses.

A compilation of SNK titles from console and arcades ranging from 1979 to 1990, there’s going to be something for nearly everyone here, even though they aren’t all winners. Compilations aren’t a new thing, nor are remakes, but it truly is all of the extra work that’s gone into this collection that makes it worth the price of entry if you’re a true retro fan, even if the price is quite steep at a hefty $51.99 CAD.

With nearly 30 titles to play, here’s the list of included games:

Alpha Mission (1985), Athena 1986), Beast Busters (1989), Bermuda Triangle (1987), Chopper I (1988), Crystalis (1990), Fantasy (1981), Guerilla War (1987), Ikari Warriors I, II and III (1986 and on), Victory Road, Iron Tank (1988), Munch Mobile (1983), Ozma Wars (1979), Paddle Mania (1988), P.O.W. (1988), Prehistoric Isle (1989), Psycho Soldier (1987), SAR: Search and Rescue (1989), Sasuke vs. Commander (1980), Street Smart (1989), Time Soldiers (1987), TNK III (1985), Vanguard (1981), and World Wars (1987).

One title to make special mention of though is Baseball Stars (1989) and is an Xbox One exclusive. What makes many of these titles special is that you can play either the console or arcade versions of each (most are supported and included) and see the true difference of how much superior the arcade versions were compared to the home versions.

One of the coolest additions to each game is the options you’re given to alter how you want to play. Many games will let you edit starting lives, amount of points needed to earn a free life, how many continues, etc. There are even modern day quality of life improvements, like a rewind button we’ve come accustomed to in our racing games, so when you die to a random projectile, feel free to rewind and try again. You can add old school TV filters, toggle the border artwork, create and load save states and more. Obviously updated graphics to support modern resolutions and controllers have been added, as expected. What I would have given to have these options as a kid growing up with many of these games.

The coolest feature though, for every single title, is the ability to watch the game. I don’t mean the intro loop of a specific part in a level, I mean a complete playthrough of the game. I can’t tell if it’s from a pro speed runner, or AI, because every run is essentially perfect. This means that even though you’re never going to be able to beat a specific game, you can still watch it from beginning to finish. Sure, you could YouTube a walkthrough or speedrun, but there’s something awesome about doing it in-game then trying it yourself. You’re able to fast forward and rewind, if you simply need some help or want to see how a pro does it, but this inclusion really surprised me and I hope more games utilize something like this fantastic feature.

While Arcade is where you’ll play all the games, nerds like myself will truly enjoy the Museum section of this collection. Here you’ll see a history of SNK, much of which I didn’t know, artwork, never before seen promotional materials, manuals and fully fledged soundtracks. Yes, not just the title theme, but full soundtracks. There’s a ton of material to enjoy, and I really appreciate the time and effort that went into adding aspects like this that I find truly fascinating.

While I enjoyed mostly the side and vertical shooters in the collection, there were a few standouts that were entertaining to relive once again. That said, there’s also a few stinkers included that I played once or twice and will most likely never go back to. Sure, everyone will have a different preference, but this means that there’s something for nearly everyone if you’re into the retro genre. I couldn’t believe how vastly superior arcade versions were compared to the console ones I grew up with, something I would have never known without this collection. Nostalgia can be a funny thing, making you remember things far better than they actually were, as was the case with a title or two here for myself, but that didn’t hinder the fun I was having.

More entertaining than the slew of games themselves is the bonus and extras that were included. I really hope that other retro collections take note going forward, as SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is the new baseline of effort needed to truly grab someone’s attention, though hopefully they won’t price is as exorbitantly high as this one.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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