Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection Review | (Mostly) a blast from the past

Robert Workman
Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection Info

genre

  • Shooter

players

  • 1 - 1

Publisher

  • Konami Digital Entertainment

Developer

  • Konami Digital Entertainment

Release Date

  • 04/18/2019
  • Out Now

Platform

  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • PS4
  • Xbox One

rating

While things are different now, Konami used to put out a bunch of games. And even though it doesn’t quite have a new catalog to exercise, it’s easy to wonder if the publisher would ever look back on its classics again. Well, good news. Sort of. The KONAMI ARCADE CLASSICS ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION is a new compilation of some of the company’s more obscure titles. Now, with something like this, you’d think they would dig into popular stuff like Sunsetriders, right? Well, not really. But there are some moments here – and a good amount of extras – that keep it from being a complete wash.

Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection Review | Interesting choices

Konami has chosen an array of titles for this compilation that some fans will recognize. Nemesis will instantly be a hit for those with a taste for Gradius, while Scramble and Life Force are sure to have their share of fans.

But the publisher could’ve included more recognizable – and entertaining – games. We have Haunted Castle, which is easily one of the worst Castlevania games ever made; Thunder Cross, a shooter that very few people have heard of; Typhoon, renamed from its original arcade name Ajaxfor some reason; TwinBee, an old shoot ’em up;and Vulcan Venture, a.k.a. Gradius 2, rounding out the package.

It’s underwhelming and almost like Konami couldn’t or didn’t want to chase down classics like the Ninja Turtles and Simpsons arcade games. This could be because of them being licensed and how Konami isn’t too keen on those right now.

Still, the selection isn’t bad. Haunted Castle sure is, yes. But it’s great to see Gradius get some love here. And Scramble is an all-time classic that deserves the love for sure. And Thunder Cross and Typhoon (Ajax?) might just grow on you, if you can get past their high difficulty curves.

Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection Review | Good, but not great, emulation

For the emulation, it appears that Konami went in-house with development. On the one hand, that’s a big change from the team the company usually turns to, Digital Eclipse. But on the other hand, the studio didn’t do too shabby of a job, save for some audio issues.

The video for each game looks just right down to its arcade coding. This is especially true for Life Force, which is sure to stir up memories for those that played the NES version. It looks spectacular and even has its signature slowdown, so you can survive during the truly intense boss moments. And even Haunted Castle looks OK, despite being very, very aged. Especially when you set it next to Symphony of the Night, which Konami also re-released last year.

That said, the audio needs a little work. The music sounds great in each game, and some of the sound effects come through just fine. But it’s notably compressed in some parts, instead of coming through in full stereo. These are older games, so it’s not the end of the world. But is sounds a little too dense even if these soundtracks aren’t as great as, say, Symphony of the Night‘s unforgettable score.

And the menu is pretty cool, showing you a glimpse of the game you’re about to partake in. If this stays in place for the forthcoming Castlevania and Contra titles, fans are in for a treat.

Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection Review | A notable dive into history

One thing that Konami does perfectly right with its Anniversary Collection is touching upon this history. The collection includes a digital Bonus Book that digs into the lore of its old school days. It also shows off a lot of art from its older titles, even if some are noticeably absent here. There are also a number of documents and illustrations that show lengthy behind the scenes looks at some of these games. It’s a good little trip back through time.

Along with that, there are interviews to read up on as well. Kengo Nakamura and Toshiaki Takatori provide some input, along with other notable Konami fans and producers. There are some video segments as well, along with the ability to listen to songs from select games. It’s pretty well put together, and, again, paints a solid picture on what to expect from the next collections.

And the games included here will keep you busy. The Gradius and Life Force titles are especially noteworthy. Thunder Cross and TwinBee are excellent fun as well. That said, well, Typhoon may have you cursing to yourself over its heinous difficulty. And it is worth reiterating that Haunted Castle should’ve been left behind.

While this is a gracious collection in some respects, Konami should’ve thought game inclusions through. Sunsetriders would’ve gone a long way here, along with other long-lost titles like Mystic Warriors and Parodius. And where’s Frogger? That game helped define Konami’s legacy, even if Sega and Gremlin eventually published it. Blades of Steel could’ve been a solid inclusion too and injected some much-needed hockey into this collection.

Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection Review | An unbalanced yet enjoyable beginning

Out of all the retro compilations Konami has coming our way, Anniversary Collection is probably going to be the weakest. Its collection of games is questionable, especially with “classics” that are anything but. That said, though, it’s a sure-fire hit for fans of hard shooters, especially with the Life Force and Scramble games thrown in.

While emulation isn’t perfect, it’s good enough to consider. The sound should have been better, but at least it’s not horrible. And on top of that, the digital bonus book is a noteworthy inclusion. It’ll keep you busy for some time. No, this isn’t a total essential purchase since some key titles are missing. But for those of you that are Konami fans or just need some old school fun to sink your teeth into, you could do a lot worse. Besides, at least Thunder Cross is surprisingly good. Who saw that coming?


GameRevolution reviewed Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection on Xbox One with a code provided by the publisher.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

3
Rating
Box art - Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection
Some good shoot 'em ups included here, especially for Gradius fans.
Mostly solid emulation and even has some faithful, classic slowdown.
A great bonus book details the history of the company.
Haunted Castle? Really? Not Sunsetriders?
Emulation sound isn’t that hot at times.
Only one default version of each game.