SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1

SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 - King of MonstersOne of the biggest joys of rummaging around a retro collection is the feeling of nostalgia, with previous Sega, Midway and Capcom collections bringing back fond memories of the 16-bit era. And when arcades weren’t full of fruit machines. Personally speaking I didn’t get the same buzz from this 16-strong collection. The NeoGeo was one of those mysterious consoles only seen in the likes of Mean Machines and CVG, with games costing more than the console itself. As such, this was more of a SNK history lesson than a trip back to the past. Rose tinted specs, anybody?

If you were to buy all of the titles present via Virtual Console it would cost a lot more than the twenty quid asking price. But that’s the thing – nobody in their right mind would download all of them. The two sports games (Neo Turf Masters and Baseball Stars 2) haven’t aged very well and the four fighting games (Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, King of Fighters ’94 and Fatal Fury) are entertaining but much of a muchness. Scrolling hack and slasher Magician Lord is more like a test of patience than a game; Sengoku isn’t any better.

On the upside, Metal Slug is as welcome as ever, and King of Monsters is so bad it’s good. Vertical scrolling shooter Shock Troopers – the newest game on here, from 1997 – is both gory and fun, while 2D shooter Last Resort has much in common with R-Type. Which is a good thing.

I was hoping to find a hidden gem when first slotting this into my Wii, and I wasn’t disappointed. Colourful and imaginative platformer Top Hunter has a hint of Rayman and Ristar about it, with the heroes able to grab and pull on items with their stretchy arms. The sprites are chunky and well-animated, and there are some clever boss battles. The only gripe is that it’s an against the clock affair due to its arcade roots. Burning Fight, a scrolling beat ‘em up similar to Final Fight and Streets of Rage, should please anybody who enjoyed either of those.

So like all retro collections before it, there is an unsettling mixture of good and bad titles. Unless the work of SNK piques your interest, you’d probably be better off spending £20 on Wii Points and buying the classic Mario, Zelda and Sonic games.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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