SNK Arcade Classics: Volume 1 Review
Player(s): 1-2 Memory: 150KB
If you're an SNK loving PS2 owner, I'm sure you're in heaven right about now. SNK has graced the PS2 with King of Fighters collections a few times over the years and ever since last year they have literally vomited all kinds of old-school SNK goodness on our fading console and they still continue to offer us some plausible collections. Sometimes however, the memories of these arcade titles that we have built over the years actually overpower what the actual game offered in the first place. While some titles help us maintain that sense of satisfaction from our early years, there are some titles that just... well, let's just say that time has not been too kind to the poor little guy.
SNK Arcade Classics contains a total of 16 arcade titles from SNK's early years. In this collection we have: 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. As you can see, SNK Playmore has given us quite a variety here and all of them are worth at least a trial play since none of them are actually horrible.
Some of the games are pure gems and distance themselves from the others with their creativity and addicting gameplay. Metal Slug will never ever get old no matter how many times I beat that game. The humor, the run and gun gameplay and the challenge in trying to get through each stage without dying truly makes it special and timeless. Samurai Showdown's gameplay is a bit on the slow side compared to more modern fighting games but it still retains that unique feel of slashing an enemy with a weapon and taking just about their full life bar in the process when in full rage, not to mention some smooth animation and colorful presentation that still looks good today.
I never have played Shock Troopers until I first tried it on this collection and I am quite pleased at how well it plays for overhead 2-D shooter - it's almost like playing a more serious overhead Metal Slug. This is also my first time to check out the long denied (for me) King of Fighters 94. I was actually expecting it to be near unplayable but it really shocked me with its fairly good controls for the first installment in a fighting series. Top Hunter had a very unique overall feel for an old-school 2-D sidescrolling platformer - it uses a 3-D background that you can jump in and out of much like Fatal Fury, except jumping in and out of one plain actually felt useful in this game.
Quite a few of the rest of the games in the collection are fun to play but they eventually start to get to you with their repetitive gameplay that doesn't seem to stand up that well today. Magician Lord is a platforming action shooter that is fun from the start but after walking to the right and shooting creatures over and over for quite a few stages, the repetition got to me after a while and I had to quit mid-game. Sengoku is good mix of slasher and brawler but it quickly gets just as repetitive as Magican Lord. This was my first attempt at Last Resort and I must stay that it really is a decent shooter but the constant returning to the beginning of a checkpoint per continue made the game feel too challenging and frustrating.
I had a bunch of fond memories of World Heroes from playing it so much in the arcade back in the day but the game speed makes it a little hard to play now - though it isn't unplayable like some of the other fighting games. King of Monsters still maintains a unique blend of wrestling with giant monsters even though the gameplay just doesn't seem to keep me involved like it used to. I don't really like sports games at all but Baseball Stars 2 had a cool SNK feel to it even though the CPU ran all over me at times.
If you've been collecting many of SNK Playmore's other collections then, besides World Heroes, you no doubt have Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting by now. These two games are near unplayable when I return to them after having played more modern fighting games. It is so hard to get out a single special move in either of these games since the controls require such a precise motion in order to perform each move. Just trying to get out a down-to-forward motion in order to throw a fireball can be a major chore. I never actually got to play Burning Fight back in the day but I can now that I have and dear lord it is such a rip off of Final Fight. It even comes complete with a Guy clone and a character that resembles Cody. Not even the Takuma-like third character feels that fresh with all the other Final Fight references therein. The gameplay feels ancient for a brawler but it's still amusing for a while.