So if you have any interest in the history of SNK pre-Neo Geo then I cannot give the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection any higher of a recommendation. It’s a brilliant compilation of some of their best work and it’s so lovingly put together with a ton of historical information, scans of fliers, newsletters, sale sheets and even japanese strategy pamphlets. I was smiling the entire time I toyed around in it last night.
Best of all, the games hold up very well and run perfectly as far as I can tell so far. I started with Vanguard, which is still one of my favorite quirky early '80s shooters. I have fond memories of it because it was one of my older brother’s favorite games when we were in an arcade or stumbled upon it somewhere else. It’s the first arcade game to feature a continue function, which is weirdly stated when you lose your final life because it was such a confusing idea in 1981. For those that are unsure about what it is, it’s the arcade game with the diamond fire buttons…
SNK’s first four button game (and their last until Neo Geo I think).
I kept going chronologically in the collection until I got to Ikari Warriors last night, mainly because it was getting late and I was bushed. T.N.K. III totally grabbed me though, and I cannot remember playing it in arcades. I may have, but it left a massive impression on me last night. It’s still really playable and it also features the first appearance of Ralf Jones from King of Fighters. He’s the tank driver! Of course, he and Clark Still became much more famous as the Ikari Warriors, and later as the best grapplers in KoF (arguably… most flashy for sure!), but it’s really neat to see the original art work and how the character got his start. The NES game is included too, Iron Tank: The Invasion of Normandy in the West or Great Tank in Japan. You can play either version too!
In fact, that’s another really neat inclusion. You can switch your region at the push of a button. You can switch to the console game if there is one, also at the push of a button. Another amazing feature is that you can watch a playthrough (tool assisted from what I understand) of the entire game and at any time you can pause, push a button, and start playing right there. It’s a really incredible feat of engineering IMO.
Finally, if you have ever played Ikari Warriors, Victory Road, Ikari III, Time Soldiers, etc. you know that they used the Loop Lever/Rotary Joystick in arcades…
This has been replicated via twin sticks on the Switch and it works perfectly. It’s a fantastic implementation that feels really good and gives the same control you could get with one of those sticks. It’s probably made the games a little easier to be honest, but given they’re arcade games and tough as nails, you’ll welcome the help.
I highly recommend anyone with a mild interest in these games to pick this up. What’s in the box is only HALF of what they are selling because they’re adding more games via DLC over the next month for free. Pretty much everything with any reputation pre-Neo Geo will be in there when this is all done. It’s absolutely great for both on the TV and on the go play. Of course there is a rotation option in there for vertical games so you can use a stand or eventually a Flip Grip to play with the proper screen orientation too! Oh… and the filters ar excellent as well… one if a “TV” filter and one adds scanlines like a proper arcade monitor. I like both of them AND the standard display too. It’s testament to the art and design of the games that they look so good.
Also, just because I should note it, the collection also contains their NES action RPG Crystalis which I’m sure some played and have fond memories of. I plan to dig into that because it’s a blind spot in my 8-bit past.