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Friday, July 20, 2018

Thoughts on the (TBR) SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

A couple of weeks ago, SNK finally gave us a concrete release date of the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. The Nintendo Switch exclusive retro compilation is set to release on November 13th, 2018. Along with the reveal of the release date, most of the games that will be included have also been listed. Said titles include Ikari Warriors, Psycho Soldier, Guerrilla, Alpha Mission, P.O.W. and Cyrstalis among others. When the release date trailer dropped, fans expressed some concern and disappointment at the lack of any games in the Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury, Metal Slug and King of Fighters line. SNK promises over 13 games on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection but of the games announced thus far, it seems very clear that this release is focusing on games that are not of the Neo Geo era.

It is impossible to think of SNK and not think of the Neo Geo. The arcade hardware housed some of SNK's very best games. If you owned a Neo Geo console, you got to play arcade perfect version of Neo Geo games in the comfort of your own home. That is, if you could afford it. The astronomical price of the Neo Geo ($600) and the games for the system ($250) were some of the highest we'd ever seen, which meant very few people owned SNK's powerhouse system. Like many, I didn't own a Neo Geo but through compilation releases over the years and digital distribution, I've become far more familiar with SNK's games than I was growing up and only reading about them. So while I can see fans being rubbed the wrong way with the absence of Neo Geo games on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, I'd like to counter that argument with the fact that many SNK Neo Geo games are available digitally via HAMSTER's excellent Arcade Archives line. The games that will be present on this anthology haven't gotten anywhere near the re-release love as SNK's Neo Geo titles have.

Most of the games announced for the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection are titles that I have not played. I've heard the praises of Ikari Warriors being sung throughout the years but I've never played it even though I own the NES version. Psycho Soldier is a game that recently came to my attention before the announcement trailer dropped. After hearing the game's soundtrack, the game sparked my interest and was delighted to see that it would be part of this collection. P.O.W was brought to my attention the same way. I even mentioned it in a recent Favorite Tunes and lo and behold, I'll be able to check this game out.

If you're a fan of Ikari Warriors, you'll be
happy to have the ability to play it wherever
you want on the Switch.
The only game I have played on SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is Crystalis. I bought it after reading about it in an issue of Nintendo Power and while it has been years since I played that game, I had a lot of fun with it. You can bet your booty that I'm happy to see it getting another re-release (I never did play the 2000 GBC version).

Like most compilation releases, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection will have bonus features and special content. What that stuff is has yet to be divulged but one can assume it will be artwork and a music player among other things. I was surprised at just how much artwork was included in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. There was artwork that I had seen before, yes, but there was also tones of pictures that were new to me. I'm a big fan of gaming artwork so it will be nice to see some of the earlier SNK works.

The world looks like it has seen better days
in Psycho Soldier.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is arcade focused but home versions of these games will also be included. It will be nice to be able to compare and contrast the differences between game versions and is a very cool addition. Most of compilation releases only go with a single version of a game. My NES carts of Ikari Warriors and Alpha Mission never did work so now I'll be able to see what the home games are like.

There are more games to be announced but even with what we've been shown thus far, I'm looking forward to SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. This is one slice of golden age arcade gaming I'm itching to take a bite out of even with that $40 price tag.

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