Monday, April 29, 2019

"Konami's Arcade Classics" Review

A throwback to the 1980s and 90s glory days of coin-munching thrillers, "Konami's Arcade Classics" rounds up eight of the most memorable and influential arcade games in one tight package on the Switch.

Perhaps the package is a little too tight. Retro roundups are frequent these days, with standards setters such as "Sega Genesis Classics" bulging with 50 games, "Rare Replay" packing in 30 titles and "SNK 40th Anniversary Collection" checking in with 21.

While strict quantity isn't the sole measure for value in an anthology, the modest numbers in this Konami roundup make it all the more crucial that the included titles bring the thunder.

While there are some excellent selections in the bunch -- To my 10-year-old self, "Life Force" alone is nearly worth the price of admission -- most of the included games are shoot-em-ups. As a result, the title is a tad misleading, since the selection doesn't come close to capturing the breadth of genres that lifted the publisher to success in the olden days.

Nowhere to be found are the umpteen war and sports games on which the brand was built. Konami is making no bones that it's holding back "Contra" and "Castlevania" titles for separate releases. Since file size isn't an issue, the move seems like a cynical strategy to soak nostalgic games for as much money as possible -- just as the arcade games themselves were designed to siphone allowance money out of pimpled teens.

What's here, at least, is excellent. "Haunted Castle" was the darker, more insidious forerunner to "Castlevania," and "Nemesis" paved the way for the success of its relaunch as the start of the "Gradius" franchise. Lesser-known greats such as "Typhoon" and "TwinBee" hold up well, and the likes of "Scramble" and "Vulcan Venture" remain capable time-wasters.

As long as you size up the offerings before you forge ahead with the purchase, "Konami's Arcade Classics" is a square deal. But if you're spending blindly based on Konami loyalty alone, you may feel as bilked as you did when a premature "Game Over" screen flashed before you in days of yore.
Publisher provided review code.

No comments: