Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: April 18, 2019
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a retro compilation available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. SNK was originally founded under the name Shin Nihon Kikaku in 1973 before becoming a stock company with the new name of Shin Nihon Kikaku Corporation in 1978. SNK’s first-ever game titled Ozma Wars was released in 1979 followed by dozens of arcade games throughout the 1980s before focusing on their own brand of games home and portable consoles named Neo Geo from 1990 until 2004 that has since made a comeback with the release of the Neo Geo Mini retro console in 2018. Can SNK 40th Anniversary Collection reflect positively on SNK’s illustrious history of creating retro gems?
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection features 25 retro games from SNK’s back catalogue comprising adventure game Fantasy; beat ‘em up P.O.W.; fighting game Street Smart; first-person shooter Beast Busters; platformers include Athena and Psycho Soldier; puzzle racer Munch Mobile; role-playing game Crystalis; side-scrolling shoot ‘em ups Prehistoric Isle and Vanguard; sports in an arcade form with Paddle Mania; and top-down shoot ‘em ups including Alpha Mission, Bermuda Triangle, Chopper, Guerrilla War, Ikari trilogy, Iron Tank, Ozma Wars, Search and Rescue, Sasuke vs. Commander, Time Soldiers, TNK III and World Wars. However, it would have been nice to have 40 games to further emphasise SNK’s 40th anniversary, while that would have helped to focus far more evenly on a multitude of genres as the collection is too top heavy on top-down shoot ‘em ups with many other genres only covered by one or two games per genre.
Some games have arcade and console versions that differentiate in gameplay, graphics and performance with the console versions seemingly being ported from the NES instead of the Neo Geo resulting in simpler graphics and the removal of local multiplayer in Alpha Mission and P.O.W. Meanwhile, there are multiple region releases from America and Japan, although the only noticeable differences seem to be some Japanese text for the story related narrative and alternative artwork. A unique feature allows the player to watch not just a gameplay video of any game within SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, but anywhere up to the entire game, while the player can fast forward, rewind, skip ahead or backwards and pause the gameplay video at any given moment before choosing to start playing from any area of the game.
Despite the collection featuring some retro gems; there are quite a few SNK developed fan favourite franchises that do not appear on SNK 40th Anniversary Collection including Art of Fighting, Baseball Stars, Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Samurai Shodown, Touch Down Fever and more besides; most probably due to the very understandable reason of differentiating this collection from the vast majority of those games that can be found on the Neo Geo Mini retro console.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection contains many additional features mostly within the museum including the ability to view SNK Complete Works 1978-1990 in its entirety with trivia covering 74 SNK developed games. Bonus features allows the player to browse through advertising for original games, cabinets and western releases by SNK; behind-the-scenes concept art for Crystalis and trivia for SNK’s lost arcade game titled Tangram Q; issues 0 and 1 of VGL: Video Game Land Newsletter in Japanese; and Japanese arcade guide books for Aso, Athena, Ikari Warriors, Victory Road, Psycho Soldier and Touch Down Fever. Game soundtracks provides a collection of over a dozen game soundtracks for the player to listen to in full including Alpha Mission, Athena, Crystalis, Guerrilla War, Ikari Warriors, Victory Road, Ikari III: The Rescue, P.O.W. Prisoners of War, Prehistoric Isle In 1930, Psycho Soldier, Street Smart, TNK III and Vanguard.
A limited edition retail release of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection featuring a nostalgic music collection soundtrack album CD, a 40th Anniversary art collection hardcover art book, over a dozen art prints and a collector’s box is available from NIS America’s store for a price of £59.99.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection will not be ported to Vita; despite the quantity of quality and successful retro collections on PSP, although remote play is a consolation. SNK 40th 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 touch screen 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; resulting in a very playable and entertaining remote play experience.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing square as the main action button, while firing or engaging a turbo is usually mapped to R2 depending on the genre of the game. Elsewhere, pressing the options button allows a player to enter the game and pressing L1 to rewind gameplay before resuming from an earlier stage of progression, 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 health in each game, alongside no vibration that could perhaps have been implemented for such occasions as an enemy hitting your character in each game.
Graphically, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection prides itself on arcade perfect ports in both graphics and performance that displays in 1080p resolution. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection provides multiple screen sizes including a 4:3 style smaller sharp screen, a full vertical screen or a stretched wide screen for the total width and height of the screen, while graphical filters include a TV filter for smoothing, a monitor filter that implements CRT monitor scanlines and no filter, alongside the choice of a game specific border related to the original artwork or in some cases an SNK logo or no border.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the title menu, main menu, arcade menus, local multiplayer menus, museum menus, 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 title logo situated to the right accompanied by game specific artwork to the left that also displays varying brief gameplay videos after a few seconds in order for the player to know how it looks and plays, alongside the release year and a mention of if it was an arcade or console release located at the bottom of the arcade menu.
SNK 40th 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 particular voice-overs, sound effects or music for each game.
The trophy list includes 14 trophies with 12 bronze trophies, 1 silver trophy and 1 gold trophy, although there is no platinum trophy. The entirety of the trophy list focuses on completing a game such as Crystalis and Prehistoric Isle or the arcade version of a game such as the Ikari trilogy, while there is a bronze trophy for finishing the second level of Vanguard. 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 100% the trophy list.
Digital Eclipse has clearly invested a lot of development time in the care and attention to detail in balancing the gameplay via a huge variety of customisable difficulty levels that make otherwise very tough retro games far more playable for all players. There are four difficulty levels including easy, normal, hard and hardest, while there are also further game options that apply for specific games such as a low, medium, high or highest ammo quantity in Beast Busters and a choice of between 2 to 5 lives and how many points need to be earned before receiving a bonus life in quite a few games. Further standouts are being able to watch a full gameplay walkthrough to see how best to approach part of the game or continuing gameplay from any point the gameplay video has progressed through until and the ability to rewind gameplay before a certain stage within a level that the player perhaps believes they could have performed better on. A player can also choose if they want to have infinite continues or not and save any game at any given moment before exiting out of the game to play a different game without having to start from the beginning of a level.
Local multiplayer is a massive part of where SNK 40th Anniversary Collection thrives as Iron Tank and the console version of Alpha Mission and P.O.W. are the only games within the collection to not feature any form of multiplayer. Other than those three games; every game has multiplayer support for two players, while Beast Busters is three player co-operative multiplayer and Paddle Mania can be played by up to four players competitively in multiplayer. 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 to each co-op game.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection’s replayability stems from 25 SNK arcade retro games in addition to console versions for some of the games were almost every game is local co-operative multiplayer with a form of points scoring competitive multiplayer, while Paddle Mania is an extremely fun local competitive multiplayer game in the style of Wind Jammers, alongside every game having customisable difficulty levels to make some games less frustrating and a plethora of bonus features that will collectively have players returning for quite some time.
• Title: SNK 40th Anniversary Collection
• Developer: SNK/Digital Eclipse
• Publisher: NIS America
• System: PS4
• Format: Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-2 (Local Multiplayer)/Beast Busters (1-3 players)/Paddle Mania (1-4 players)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 1.37GB