2018 marks the 40th anniversary of legendary studio SNK. To celebrate this extraordinary milestone, a variety of classic arcade games from SNK’s golden age are coming back together in one anthology on Nintendo Switch as the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, with a treasure trove of features and collection specials. As someone who never played a single game in this collection, I went into the games blind and came out with an appreciation for the work SNK has been doing over the past 4 decades.
SNK these days are best known to younger players, even some under 30, for the insane amount of games they’ve uploaded to the Switch as Neo Geo arcade entries. The fantastic Neo Geo console and arcade systems of which countless games came from were far from the beginning for SNK, however. The Osaka-based company was busy for 12 years developing games before the Neo Geo arrived in 1990. In that time, they were popular internationally in arcades for their unique take on side-scrollers, fighting games, and everything in between.
The collection features thirteen games, with some of them actually having two versions included – arcade and home console editions. Despite the arcade versions being slightly downgraded, that means you actually get an additional nine games. If you love arcade style games and reliving those days, this is a feature for you. That didn’t do much for me, but in my eyes, the more content the better if you’re going to do a large collection celebrating a studio. You can even switch the regions of each title adding more variation, which is fantastic.
14 games are on the cart through download and 11 are coming later as DLC. All of these have been announced: Alpha Mission, Athena, Crystalis, Guerrilla War, Ikari Warriors, Ikari II: Victory Road, Ikari III: The Rescue, Iron Tank, P.O.W., Prehistoric Isle, Psycho Soldier, Street-Smart, TNK III, Vanguard, Chopper 1, Time Soldiers, Fantasy, Sasuke vs. Commander, Munch Mobile, World Wars, Beast Busters, ZMA Wars, Paddle Mania, Bermuda Triangle, and Search and Rescue.
No single game stands out to me as a first time player, although I spent the most time playing Athena, P.O.W., and Victory Road. These games all offered something a little different and gave me a taste of what SNK was great at doing in their heyday. Controls are simple on every single option in the collection and feature a wide enough variety of gameplay styles to accommodate all who enjoy the arcade style of gaming. Not having grown up with it, I feel like I may have been missing something. Nostalgia is great, but the games need to be good too, and nothing stood out as special.
There are a number of features you can apply to make your gameplay a bit more interesting. You can swap difficulty modes, turn off borders, add or subtract lives, alter the controls, swap the display mode from landscape to vertical for your arcade shooters, and TV/monitor filters or full-screen/stretch/sharp aspect ratio toggles. There’s an option for rewinding and saving progress in a single slot from the pause menu. A day one patch will assist in a few of these features with NIS America adding that the following would be patched into the game upon release:
- New optional “Single Stick” mode for all twin-stick games (Ikari Warriors, Victory Road, T.N.K. III, Guerrilla War). Players can now use one stick to control both movement and aiming simultaneously.
- With ”Single Stick” mode enabled, two players can now play multiplayer games together using single Joy-Cons. Added optional “Auto Fire” mode for all twin stick games – bullets can now fire automatically in the direction that second stick is pointed (previously players would have to hold a fire button).
- Fixed an issue that was causing some games to display at an incorrect aspect ratio.
- Improved audio accuracy of console games, eliminating the frequent “pops” heard previously.
- Fixed an issue that was causing the Rewind feature to occasionally stop working.
The day one patch for a collection game like this shows me that they want the experience to be authentic and user-friendly. I appreciate that a ton, especially since its additions rather than fixing errors that were probably created through a push to release the game on time.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection offers players a decent collection of games for arcade lovers and those who want to relive the magic of 80s SNK classics. For newcomers unfamiliar with the titles, they are enjoyable, but nothing to fall in love with if you don’t have some sort of history with them. That being said, for the number of games included, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a fun addition to your game collection, and great on the go for Nintendo Switch.
A Nintendo Switch review copy of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was provided by NIS America for the purpose of this review.