Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection Gradius I Gameplay 3

Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: May 7, 2019

Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection is a retro arcade compilation available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Konami was originally founded in 1969 as a jukebox rental and repair company in Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan and got its name from combining the first two letters of the surnames Kagemasa Kozuki, Yoshinobu Nakama and Tatsuo Miyasako. Konami’s first arcade games including Space Ship and Space King released in 1978 within Japan before exporting their arcade machines over to America from 1979 onwards. Konami began releasing games for home consoles when it started supporting the Atari 2600 in America in 1982 followed by massive support for the MSX home computer in 1983 and the NES from 1985 with established world famous franchises releasing in the arcades and on home consoles such as Bishi Bashi, Castlevania, Contra, Frogger, Gradius, TwinBee and more besides. Can Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection produce a showcase of Konami’s best retro arcade games from the 1980s?

Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection features 8 retro arcade games from Konami’s 1980s back catalogue including side-scrolling shoot ‘em ups Gradius I, Gradius II and the Gradius spin-off that are referred to as Nemesis, Vulcan Vulture and Life Force (Salamander in Europe) respectively, Scramble and Thunder Cross, alongside top-down shoot ‘em ups TwinBee and Typhoon, albeit some of the shoot ‘em ups to vary between side-scrolling and top-down gameplay. The only arcade game within the collection that is not set within the side-scrolling or top-down shoot ‘em up genre is Haunted Castle; the arcade version of the original Castlevania. A manual is provided that details the basics within each individual game.

Despite the collection featuring some iconic retro games; there are quite a few of Konami’s arcade games that are not featured in Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection, but have been included in earlier collections. For instance, Konami’s 80’s Arcade Classics released in the arcades in Japan in 1998 before being ported to PS1 in Japan and America in 1999 including Circus Charlie, Gyruss, Pooyan, Road Fighter, Roc’n Rope, Scramble, Shao-lin’s Road (also titled Kicker), Super Cobra, Time Pilot and Yie Ar Kung-Fu. Three volumes of Konami Antiques MSX Collection released on PS1 in Japan between November 1997 and March 1998 featuring games from the Gradius, Hyper Sports and Yie Ar Kung-Fu franchises spread over the course of the three volumes, alongside some sports and competitive games such as Konami’s Billiards, Boxing, Golf, Ping Pong, Rally, Soccer and Tennis, alongside many more such as Comic Bakery and King’s Valley before all three volumes released within a bundle titled Konami Antiques MSX Collection Ultra Pack on SEGA Saturn in Japan in 1998.

Konami GB Collection released on Game Boy Colour in Japan from 1997 to 1998 before being localised for Europe in 2000 with four volumes containing four games per volume including Castlevania: The Adventure, Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge, Gradius I and II, Konami Racing, Motocross Maniacs, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, TwinBee Da and more besides. Konami Collector’s Series: Arcade Advanced released on Game Boy Advance worldwide in 2002 including Frogger, Gyruss, Rush’n Attack, Scramble, Time Pilot and Yie Ar Kung-Fu. Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits released on Nintendo DS worldwide in 2007 comprising of 15 arcade games comprising of 8 from Konami’s 80’s Arcade Classics on PS1, alongside Gradius, Super Basketball, Track & Field, Tutankham, TwinBee and more besides. Two volumes of Konami Classics released on Xbox 360 in December 2009 comprising of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Frogger and Super Contra within the first volume, while Contra, Rush’n Attack and Track & Field were in the second volume.

A bonus book titled The History of Konami Arcade Classics comprising 102 pages worth of previously never before released design documents, alongside a selection of music scores for Scramble, TwinBee, Nemesis, Life Force, Haunted Castle, Vulcan Venture and Thunder Cross; developer interviews with the designer of Nemesis and Typhoon, Kengo Nakamura and programmer of Vulcan Vulture and Life Force, Toshiaki Takatori; a brief history of Konami’s arcade games; and a round table discussion of what Konami arcade games a trio of Weekly Famitsu editors and writers would prefer to see in a second volume collection.

Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection will not be ported to Vita; despite the quantity of quality and successful retro collections from Konami that are available on portable platforms such as Gradius Collection on PSP, four volumes of Konami GB Collection on Game Boy Colour, Konami Collector’s Series: Arcade Advanced on Game Boy Advance and Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits on Nintendo DS, although remote play is a consolation. Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance maintains the quality of the PS4 version. Remote play control scheme optimisation includes R2 and L2 related controls being remapped to tapping the top right and top left of the rear touch pad respectively, although if the player would prefer R2 and L2 to be remapped to R and L respectively, then that is possible due to a fully customisable control scheme, while the shoulder buttons are usually an alternative to the face buttons; resulting in a very playable and entertaining remote play experience.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme consisting of pressing X to fire in shoot ‘em ups or to jump in Haunted Castle; pressing O to fire a secondary weapon; pressing square to use a power-up or as the main action button in Haunted Castle; pressing R2 or L2 as alternative to firing either weapon; pressing R1 to fire both weapons simultaneously; pressing triangle to insert a coin to begin gameplay, while tapping the touch pad displays the pause menu and options. If you do not prefer the default control scheme, then the control scheme is rather amazingly fully customisable for each individual player. There is no light bar support that could have perhaps provided an alternative HUD for your character’s or ship’s health in each game, alongside no vibration that could perhaps have been implemented for such occasions as an enemy hitting your character or ship in each game.

Graphically, Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection produces arcade perfect ports in both graphics and performance that displays in 1080p resolution; that is powered by Arcade Archives. Every game is displayed in a 4:3 aspect ratio by default unless an arcade game such as Scramble or TwinBee was originally displayed within a narrower screen, although there are graphical customisation options for each game including a 16:9 full screen aspect ratio, alongside a mild or strong blurring effect that is reminiscent to scanlines and two designs for the borders to the left and right of the 4:3 aspect ratio, although they are not related to the subject matter of any game within the collection.

Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, local multiplayer menus, bonus book, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while the touch pad is used to pause a game, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick. Background menus are presented with fan service in mind as each game has a front cover consisting of the main menu screen, alongside soundtrack music, a release year and a description of the arcade game.

Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection’s audio efficiently emulates the original voice-overs, sound effects and music from every game contained within the collection. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have highlighted specific voice-overs, sound effects or music for each game.

The trophy list includes 17 trophies with 8 silver trophies and 8 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The entirety of the trophy list focuses on scoring a particular quantity of points with the smaller amount providing a silver trophy and almost double the quantity of points for a gold trophy such as scoring 150,000 and 300,000 points in Nemesis respectively. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are multiple ranges of customisable difficulty levels for each individual arcade game such as Scramble providing the choice of anywhere from 3 to 5 lives or 2, 3, 4 or 7 lives in TwinBee; Gradius I (Nemesis), Gradius II (Vulcan Venture) and Gradius spin-off (Life Force), Scramble, Thunder Cross, TwinBee and Typhoon allowing for firing to be set to rapid fire; Haunted Castle having the options of low, normal, high or really high enemy strength; and easy, normal, hard or very hard difficulty in Gradius I (Nemesis), Gradius II (Vulcan Venture) and Gradius spin-off (Life Force), Haunted Castle, Thunder Cross, TwinBee and Typhoon. Meanwhile, another big customisable component of the difficulty levels sees the players being able to use anywhere from a single credit up to 99 credits.

Local multiplayer supports simultaneous co-operative multiplayer for two players including TwinBee with such innovative features as both players combining their ships side by side to unleash a gigantic weapon at enemies and nudging the other player’s ship to release a spread shot of stars. Meanwhile, Gradius spin-off (Life Force) and Thunder Cross are simultaneous local co-operative multiplayer for two players, while there are games were players alternate turns such as Gradius I (Nemesis), Gradius II (Vulcan Venture) and Typhoon. Local multiplayer games perform identically to single player gameplay, while local co-operative multiplayer displays a score for each player in order to provide a more competitive edge via competitive high scoring during Gradius I (Nemesis), Gradius II (Vulcan Venture), Gradius spin-off (Life Force), Thunder Cross, TwinBee and Typhoon.

Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection’s replayability originates from 8 of Konami’s retro arcade games from the 1980s with local co-operative multiplayer for Gradius I (Nemesis), Gradius II (Vulcan Venture), Gradius spin-off (Life Force), Thunder Cross, TwinBee and Typhoon in addition to competitive points scoring and local high score leaderboards, alongside every game having frustration reducing customisable difficulty levels and an interesting 102 page bonus book that will collectively have players returning for many hours.

• Title: Konami Arcade Classics 50th Anniversary Collection
• Developer: Konami
• Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1 (Haunted Castle and Scramble)/Life Force, Thunder Cross and TwinBee (2 Player Simultaneous Local Co-operative Multiplayer)/Nemesis, Typhoon and Vulcan Venture (2 Player Alternate Turns)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 417MB (Version 1.01)

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