[Review] SNK 40th Anniversary Collection - Nintendo Switch

Of all the venerable video game developers out there, SNK is probably the company whose earlier legacy is largely forgotten. Most often associated with The Neo-Geo line of consoles and their amazing lineup of 2d fighting games, it is nice to see a collection of the early years when SNK was primarily focused on making quality arcade titles covering a larger variety of genres. The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection starts off with thirteen titles, but closer to twenty games since it not only includes the arcade version of the games, but the console versions as well.

The initial lineup includes Alpha Mission, Athena, Crystalis, Ikari Warriors, Ikari III: The Rescue, Victory Road, Guerilla War, P.O.W., Prehistoric Isle, Psycho Soldier, Street Smart, Vanguard, and TNK-III (the console version is Iron Tank). I mention off the bat that this will be the initial lineup because there will eventually be eleven more games released as DLC on December 11. Nine of those will be included in a patch, and the remaining two, Beast Busters and S.A.R. Search and Rescue will be a free bundle on the eshop.

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection offers a few different filters for your preferences. You can play with a border on, which definitely enhance the feel of the arcade versions, or without. There are three screen size settings- sharp screen (original aspect ratio, but screen is smaller), full screen (original aspect ratio), and wide screen (which stretches the image and takes up the whole screen). While the wide screen still looks ok, I much preferred playing on the original screen size and ratio. There is also the option to turn on one of two different filters- Monitor and TV.  TV filter gives horizontal scan lines, Monitor filter has vertical scan lines, but also softens up the color palette and makes the screen look really blurry. There is also the ability to switch between landscape, portrait, and reverse portrait modes, the latter two allow the switch to be turned sideways and have the "long" monitor look.

The emulation used for the console games is mostly flawless, but there are some minor hiccups here and there when emulating some of the arcade games and there is a lot going on- most noticeable for me with two player Ikari Warriors III. There was actually some audio issues I encountered from the time of first receiving the game that has since been patched out, but on occasion I still notice lines of dead pixels that pop up from time to time, usually when playing the console versions of a game. On top of running the games pretty well, you are also given the option to watch a demo of the game being played to get a good idea of what you're getting yourself into, and it even gives you the ability to jump right into the game at the point of the demo you feel that you want to start playing. You can also save and load from anywhere, and there is the ability to rewind the game while playing so you can retry tough sections or just keep yourself alive a little longer. Another feature of that bug patch was to add single joycon support to games that normally require both sticks to move and aim, making it easier to have impromptu co-op sessions with friends, coworkers, or riders of public transit that you press gang into playing a round of Ikari Warriors with you.

Where SNK 40th Anniversary really shines, however, is in the Museum Mode. Museum Mode features the SNK Complete Works 1978-1990 (also the era that this collection covers), which is a collection of screenshots and ads that have descriptions of each machine type and game released by SNK, as well as a little bit of the game or machine's history, innovations, or impact on the industry. Bonus Features contain Advertising scans, Behind the Scenes features of Crystalis concept art and a bit of information on Tangram Q  (the lost game), reprints of Japanese newsletter Video Game Land issues 0 and 1, and Arcade Guide Books for six different games. It's really too bad that the latter two are only shown in the original Japanese, it would have been nice to see the translated versions. Last, but certainly not least, is the ability to use the Game Soundtracks subsection as a media player to listen to each track of the soundtrack for every game in the collection. My hope is that when the DLC comes out in a few weeks, that we will also be getting additional content added into the Museum section of the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection.

Overall, the games are hit or miss depending on your personal preferences, nostalgia, or access to a player 2. However, the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection excels in its ability to act as a digital and interactive archive of the history of one company, at least, and really just makes it such a clean experience with a simple interface. I'm looking forward to the rest of the games, and I hope that a new generation of gamers explore this wonderful collection to see how it was done and how we got to where we are today.


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