Title: SNK 40th Anniversary Collection
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Release Date: November 13th, 2018 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America
SNK was a titan in the arcade business with their signature Neo Geo arcade and home console systems. They created numerous franchises including Metal Slug, The King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, etc. They just recently with NISA put out SNK Heroines ~Tag Team Frenzy~ on Switch (here’s my review!). Most today know them from their Neo Geo days, but what about their beginnings, before the Neo Geo? That’s where this collection comes in. This is a compilation of many of SNK’s earliest arcade and console games, generally from the 8 and 16-bit era (vs the 32-bit era that the Neo Geo was from).
This review will be a bit different from normal. Normally I’d be focusing on the games in the collection, but there’s a lot of games. On top of that, one of the main people behind the collection at Digital Eclipse, founder Frank Cifaldi, actually wants reviewers to focus on the sheer hard work they poured into the details and options in the collection. And so, I will happily grant him that request and will focus on that. It’s far easier for me, so win-win! 😛 So how is the collection? Let’s dig right into it!
The main menu.
To start of, instead of listing every game, I’ll just link to the game’s official website where there’s loads more information. Just know that there are a total of 24 games. 13 are included on the cart, while 9 of the 11 remaining games are coming a bit later on December 11th for FREE via a patch, with the last 2 (Beast Busters and SAR: Search and Rescue) being free DLC on the eShop.
Prehistoric Isle’s title screen.
As soon as you boot the game up, you’re greeted with a wonderful menu screen that features high-resolution artwork of the classic games available. These are all the original artwork too so it’s quite the blast from the past on display here. Many of the games in the collection don’t just come with both their arcade and console versions, but also their different regional versions, logos and artwork included!
The game options for Ikari Warriors.
Each game also have some options to play with, such as a difficulty option, a lives count, remappable controls, choosing where to start, to allow continues, etc. It varies obviously by game. There are a few display options for each game. You can adjust the display size; “Sharp” for the normal image, “Full” for the game to fill the screen as much as possible while retaining the aspect ratio, and “Stretch” for filling the entire screen. There are also filters; a “TV Filter” for blur plus horizontal scanlines, “Monitor Filter” for blur plus scanlines on seemingly both axis (but dominantly vertical), and simply off which is the default. You also get a single save state for each game which is a nice bonus also. Every game also comes with a bunch of language options (confusingly always the sole option in the “Main Options” menu of each game) that only affects the compilation’s menus in the specific game; English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese.
The Watch function in action in Crystalis.
Each game also comes with a very special Watch function. This is a feature where you can watch the game play itself, but there’s a twist. Not only can you control the playback, from fast forwarding to rewinding, but you can actually just jump right into the game at any time at the point you’re at in the video! This feature however seems to only be in one version of each game; if a game has both an arcade and a console version, it will only be in the arcade version, but if a game only has a console option (Crystalis and Iron Tank, the console version of TNK III), then it’ll just be that one version. For reasons unknown, if I have the console version of the game selected where Watch is missing (it’s literally blank), and then back out of it, the Watch option pops back in it as the menu changes. A glitch maybe?
The SNK Complete Works museum section.
A big point of interest is the museum mode. Here you can see a pretty extensive look at SNK’s beginning from game-by-game to 1990. You can also look at bonus features which include flyers, concept art, images of cabinets, etc. Each of these images are accompanied by a nice description of the topic. There’s plenty to look at here and the images are all in crisp high-res detail as well. Very impressed. There are also soundtracks for all the games as well, with most games having each of their songs named (with one exception being Crystalis for some reason, with all of its songs being its name and a number).
The Bonus Features museum section.
Visually the presentation is pretty slick and full of classic artwork, so if you grew up in the classic era of SNK, you will love this. Emulation I can’t really comment on since I didn’t play any of these to know how accurate they are. Digital Eclipse have made a name for themselves with good emulation with compilations like Mega Man Legacy Collection 1. Audio-wise it’s hard to comment on. The soundtrack inclusions are a great touch, and the menu themes sound pretty good. That’s all I can really say honestly! 😛
The soundtrack for Athena.
Overall this is a good collection. It seems to be inexpensive and I believe this is the only place to get a lot of the games in the collection aside from their original hardware, especially the arcade versions. You can play Neo Geo games on basically every current console, but these predate that system, so they may be a lot harder to come across if you’re looking for them. I don’t know if these would’ve been better off released on their own on the eShop, but the extras are very cool and more than make it worthwhile if you’re an old school SNK fan.
Who is this different company you speak of HMM?!
Here’s my one game pick to have made this better; put the Game Boy Color version of Crystalis in! That was by Nintendo themselves (specifically Nintendo Software Technology) and even if it’s very out of range date-wise (2001, so basically a last minute GBC title), it would’ve been so cool to have seen this included. Hell they even reference it in the description for Crystalis (without actually mentioning Nintendo, clever folks).
+ A lot of games to choose from with 24 total once the rest are released.
+ Many of the games come with both their arcade and console versions, as well as their different regional versions.
+ VERY nicely done bonus section. A nice look at SNK’s early years and other images with descriptions to look at.
+ Soundtracks for all games.
+ Remappable controls for all games.
+ A save state for each game.
+ A number of game adjusting options, such as difficulty, lives, allowing continues, etc.
+ Multiple languages for menus to suit most people’s needs.
+ The Watch function is a genius idea and should be in more games (M2, take notes!).
+ The display options are nifty.
+ Has screenshot and video capture support.
– Display options are a tad limited with just two filters and only one wallpaper for each game.
– Obviously don’t expect anything but SNK’s earliest stuff, seemingly mostly 8 and 16-bit games.
– I wish there was a larger, fuller history section! Give me ALL the history to date! 😛
– No inclusion of the Game Boy Color version of Crystalis by Nintendo themselves. Bummer. 😦 😛