If you haven’t already noticed, Digital Eclipse has made a habit of releasing museum quality retro game collections on a regular basis. In addition to the Disney Afternoon Collection and the first volume of Capcom’s Mega Man releases, the company put out SNK 40th Anniversary Collection on Nintendo Switch this past November. The modernized controls and pristine presentation were quite impressive, despite featuring mostly obscure ’80s classics. Since then, Digital Eclipse has added more games to the collection and ported the game to other modern consoles, making the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Xbox One release the definitive version of the title.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Xbox One | Munch Mobile and Paddle Mania
First off, the “DLC” titles added to the Switch version also come standard on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can see why certain selections got cut from the original Switch version, but this full list offers a more complete history to choose from. Strange early games like Munch Mobile and Fantasy have offbeat themes that could only really come about in the Wild West days of arcades. Gun games like Beast Busters look great, but they don’t control well with a thumbstick. As good as it is to have Ozma Wars for history’s sake as SNK’s first original title, it’s not a game that holds up decades after its creation.
Thankfully, not every addition is merely a historical oddity. Paddle Mania is a proto-Windjammers where you play ping pong against other Olympic athletes. And not just other table tennis players, but sumo wrestlers and synchronized swimmers as well. The controls involve moving the joystick and swinging your paddle with flicks of the right joystick. It’s bizarre but surprisingly playable. For more standard fare, run and gun titles like SAR: Search and Rescue and World Wars provide some much-needed basic arcade action.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Xbox One | Now featuring Baseball Stars
The Xbox One iteration of SNK 40th Anniversary includes Baseball Stars, a landmark NES sports title. It was a rare cartridge with a battery backup, allowing you to save your progress in any given season. The game also allowed you to customize teams and create a player for the first time as a console. This is a standard feature in contemporary sports games, and it’s fascinating to see its origins here. Loading into the menus without guidance can be a daunting task, and gameplay admittedly does take a backseat to just toying around with the franchise options.
Games both strange and familiar all still benefit from SNK 40th‘s great suite of features. You can rewind in-game at the push of a button and adjust arcade dip switches in the settings menu for a tailored experience. You can sample a full tool-assisted playthrough video at your leisure and pick up the action from anywhere. It cannot be overstated how vital these features feel in preserving these games for newer generations. Skipping around and seeing all aspects of any given experience takes this from a retro collection to something far more valuable.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Xbox One | Great on any platform
As far as specific Xbox One quirks, the increased resolution of a more powerful console means that you’ll be seeing more border and less game by default. You can still stretch out the pixels if you need the game to fill the screen of course. You’d be a monster for doing so but’s it’s always nice to give players options. The standard monitor and TV filters also return here as a reminder of just how far we’ve all come when it comes to screens. Everything runs just as well as it does on Nintendo Switch, although I did run into at least one hard crash while skipping around the replay of Ozma Wars.
With these new titles in tow, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is even better now than it was on Switch. This full collection offers a more complete history of SNK’s pre-Neo Geo days. No matter what you end up toying around with, you’re almost guaranteed to learn something new and interesting. These games are better here than they are on any emulator, preserved in a way that’s worth celebrating. Here’s hoping that Frank Cifaldi and Mike Mika are already working on another weird and wonderful collections of games I didn’t even know I wanted to play again.