Retro video games have been riding the nostalgia train for all it has been worth this console generation, and who could blame them? Today’s gamers are more than eager to get their hands on the games of their youth and to put them on display for the next generation. There’s always been a careful selection process involved in which retro games were worth being remastered, however. It had to be the cream of the crop if it wanted to appeal to today’s gamers. And so we saw the release of games like Mega Man Legacy, as well as consoles like the Nintendo Classic.
This careful curation of gaming history means that often times, a lot of the lesser known games and consoles slip through cracks to be lost to time. Among those would be the SNK, one of the first video game arcade consoles that was released in late 1978. Among the SNK’s first offerings were games like Ozma Wars and Safari Rally. Its important to remember that these were among some of the first video games ever, and as such they’re not the big budget blockbusters that we know and love today. They’re often small games with only 3-4 levels that loop until you run out of health, energy, or lives in some way and were frequently developed by just one or two people in their entirety.
There are twenty-six games total that make up the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, covering an impressive eleven year era in gaming history (from 1979 to 1991) . The collection includes games that – at the time – were innovative in their own right, such as . Playing these games today can be a little much. The retro graphics can occasionally be difficult to distinguish, especially with the more involved games like Athena and Cataclysm, and the clunky retro controls lead to a litany of unnecessary deaths. Just like the good old days.
Developers Digital Eclipse have made some concessions for modern gamers in their effort to revive these retro titles, thankfully. They’ve included the option to play either the American or Japanese versions of the games whenever possible, or the choice between arcade and console versions. A fully functional save, checkpoint, and rewind system has been added so that you’re no longer obligated to play these games in one fell swoop or risk losing any and all progress. Though the leaderboards do keep you coming back to try for that high score ‘just one more time’.
The games are only one part of SNK’s 40th Anniversary Collection, though. The Museum is where this collection is really set apart from other retro ports, and makes this a must for any game history nerds. Each game comes complete with a museum entry that includes promotional art, a full game manual, and more information on the game’s history. Flipping through the museum and learning what makes the games contained within the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection special can be even more enjoyable than playing the games themselves. They’re a fantastic way to learn more about how these early entries into gaming created the path for the games we know and love today.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher