Not many companies have a storied gaming past like SNK does. For the past few decades, it’s not only delivered a stunning array of Neo-Geo games (which, thankfully, are seeing re-releases across the board through the Arcade Archives series), but it’s also delivered a number of classics before them. And SNK 40th Anniversary Collection for Nintendo Switch celebrates them in style.
Rather than focusing on the Neo-Geo library, this package takes a look at much older favorites, including the Ikari Warriors series as well as obscure titles like Vanguard, Street Smart, Psycho Soldier (“ATHENA I WILL GO!”) and others. The game count is a little low right now, and not all the control options are there, but NIS America, alongside the developers at Digital Eclipse, know how to put on a retro show.
The first thing you’ll notice is the option to play either home or arcade versions of each game. We’re not sure who would opt for the NES version of Ikari Warriors over the arcade one, but there you go. This isn’t available for every single game, but it’s a neat alternative that shows you how games have translated from home to arcade.
And plus, NIS America, working with SNK, was wise enough to choose some gems for the collection. The original Athena is a treat and shows you just how far the heroine has come with her King of Fighters entry; and Guerrilla War is an exciting take on the Ikari formula, but with a fresh coat of paint. And I will always take the time to appreciate a good shooter like Prehistoric Isle -- though sending just one damn biplane against an army of dinosaurs is practically suicide. (What, was their defense budget low?)
Along with all the games emulated to near perfection (a couple of small blemishes here and there, but nothing too noticeable), SNK 40th Anniversary Collection also includes a highly detailed museum mode that covers nearly the entire spectrum of SNK history. This includes games that aren’t in the collection (well, yet anyway), and really gets into detail about some of your favorites. It’s well worth exploring when you aren’t dropping grenades on fools or teaching foes a lesson.
That said, the game selection is a bit on the light side. The core game release comes with 13 titles, as well as some of them having their home games intact. That’s pretty low compared to, say, Sega Genesis Classics. But NIS America has promised free games to download in the months ahead, including the classic Time Soldiers. I just wish they were released beforehand. It’s nice to have them on the way, but I want to play them now, y’know?
With some of the games set up the way they are, some control options were kind of shut out during our review. For instance, you couldn't play some games with a JoyCon because of the set-up with Ikari Warriors and Guerrilla War requiring aiming and movement. That said, SNK has supplied a patch to the game that now allows for this type of control, so we can gladly say that this option is back. And of course, the game also supports handheld play as well as Pro Controllers, so you can take that route.
And I enjoy the extra features that come with each game, as it gives you more reason to plow back through them. It’s true that they’re all not equal experiences -- P.O.W. is a bit repetitive for its own good; and Street Smart is no Street Fighter II -- but they offer enough robust goodness for any retro fan to enjoy. On top of that, it serves as a fine history lesson for those wondering where SNK came from. (No, it wasn’t the Neo-Geo, though that was a vital part of its history.)
That said, I do hope NIS America continues to add more games after the first two download packs. The upcoming games are bound to be winners, but I want to see more obscure stuff past that, like Gang Wars, Beast Busters and Touchdown Fever. If we’re gonna celebrate SNK’s legacy, let’s go all out.
But I digress. As it stands, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a valuable package, whether you’re a long-time fan of the company or just stepping through their doors for the first time. Their debut entries in this compilation are great, and the fact that we’re getting more for free is a nice touch. Throw in bonus features and a museum jam-packed with the company’s history, and you have a retro package that’s finely suited for everyone.
So save those quarters and pick this bad boy up. “ATHENA I WILL GO!” (Side note: Psycho Soldier’s theme song rocks.)
WWG’s Score: 4 out of 5.
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)