It’s really hard to remember a time when Konami was still a huge name in console and arcade gaming. While its recent releases have not gathered critical acclaim, everybody and their mothers were locked into arcade cabinets and CRT screens back in the day, most of whom were probably playing one of Konami’s multitude of games. Konami is set to release a series of retro collections but first up on the list would be the Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection, mostly defined by your classic shoot ’em ups like Gradius, Life Force, and much more. Sweet deal?
Nowadays, 8 games for the price of one is a helluva deal. That’s exactly what Konami is trying to give the players, with 7 of their most classic shoot ’em ups (and a stray Castlevania-ish game of sorts) all jammed into one tiny downlodable package. If you’re like me, you’ve definitely played and experienced at least one or two games from this collection when you were a bit younger. The list includes Gradius, Gradius 2, Life Force, Twin Bee, Scramble, Thunder Force, Typhoon, and Haunted Castle. You’ve got some pretty good games in here but overall, the list is a tad bit disappointing. While there are 8 titles on the list, seeing as most of the games are very similar to each other, its value is greatly diminished because of repetitiveness.
Truth be told, I would have loved to have had other games in here, particularly any of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, so be warned that this is really a shooter / shoot ’em up collection more than anything. If you’re into this particular genre, then it’s the perfect collection for you. Don’t get me wrong, I personally love the Gradius series as well as Twin Bee, but these games are really dated and when I popped the titles on my PS4, there was just a slight hint of nostalgia and nothing else, unfortunately. Nostalgia can be a good thing for the most part, but playing these games again will probably net you a couple of hours at most because the feeling of wanting more outweighs the trip back memory lane.
An interesting bonus that comes with the collection is an e-book that is very much welcome. It includes sketches and concept art for each of the games, a selection of original game music, and behind the scenes footage and stories from the development team. Its a lovely extra, and it’s only a wish that I can make that all of the upcoming retro releases have this as a requirement, since it offers fantastic insight into these games we hardly know of a few decades ago.
They do play well and the emulation is pretty spot on, as the games really come alive on newer screens. Even the sound quality takes you back to days of old in the very best of ways, hardcore retro gamers would love and appreciate this collection as they have been faithfully reproduced even on the latest technology.
One game that is not like the rest is Haunted Castle. Truth be told, I was caught unaware and have only recently learned that it is an adaptation of the original Castlevania game, hence the similar style of play and artwork. I love the Castlevania series and I could imagine that this game would have been impressive 20-30 years ago, but seeing it today doesn’t really do anything for me, especially with such sluggish controls which is one of the biggest turn offs for me with ANY game.
- Some of the best classic shoot ’em ups all in one place
- Small download size
- Decent emulation and user interface
- Gameplay (and games) did not age well and feels very dated
- Variety of games is sorely lacking for an arcade collection
- A bit of a tough sell, even at 20$
Final Verdict: 5/10
Due to the severe lack of variety of games in the collection, I struggle with recommending this to everyone. Since the collection is mostly a gathering of shoot ’em ups, this would only appeal to certain crowds but with the inclusion of Gradius, one of the best of that generation, you’ll certainly be getting good mileage. While the price tag for 8 games is appealing, 20$ could get you a better deal somewhere else, specifically the upcoming Castlevania collection which sounds more like my thing.
*Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code from the publisher