After launching first on Switch and then PlayStation 4, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection has finally arrived on Xbox One as well. Collecting more than 25 arcade and NES classics in one slick package, half of which support local co-op, this collection from Digital Eclipse might just be the retro compilation to beat this generation.
Whereas the Switch version of the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection launched with a limited selection of titles and then added more as free post-release DLC, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions contain the full selection of games right off the bat. The Switch and PlayStation versions offer a total of 25 distinct games, 32 when counting NES ports as separate games. The Xbox One version includes one extra game, Baseball Stars, giving it 26/33 games. These games only span SNK’s pre-Neo Geo releases from 1979- 1990.
Here's the complete games list with local co-op titles in bold:
- Alpha Mission (Arcade and NES versions)
- Athena (Arcade and NES versions)
- Baseball Stars (NES version, Xbox One exclusive)
- Beast Busters (Arcade)
- Bermuda Triangle (Arcade)
- Chopper I (Arcade)
- Crystalis (NES)
- Fantasy (Arcade)
- Guerilla War (Arcade and NES versions)
- Ikari Warriors (Arcade and NES versions)
- Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road (Arcade and NES versions)
- Ikari III: The Rescue (Arcade and NES versions)
- Iron Tank (NES)
- Munch Mobile (Arcade)
- Ozma Wars (Arcade)
- Paddle Mania (Arcade)
- P.O.W. (Arcade and NES versions; NES version is single-player only.)
- Prehistoric Isle (Arcade)
- Psycho Soldier (Arcade)
- Search and Rescue (Arcade)
- Sasuke vs. Commander (Arcade)
- Street Smart (Arcade)
- Time Soldiers (Arcade)
- TNK III (Arcade)
- Vanguard (Arcade)
- World Wars (Arcade)
Including both the NES and arcade versions of seven games is great because arcade and home console ports usually differed significantly during the pre-32-bit era. However, the collection doesn’t quite go the full mile port-wise. The very good GameBoy Color version of Crystalis and the Sega Genesis port of Street Smart didn’t make the cut.
Standout non-cooperative games in this collection include Crystalis (God Slayer in Japan), an NES action- RPG that lasts 10 hours and closely resembles Falcom’s Ys series, the NES version of Baseball Stars (which would inspire two Neo Geo sequels), and Athena (a surprisingly complex action-platformer starring SNK’s sometimes mascot).
Several of SNK’s early arcade games featured rotary joysticks that allowed characters to aim in a different direction than they were moving. This collection smartly adapts that control scheme into standard twin-stick shooter controls, making the rotary joystick games easier to play than ever. These former rotary shooters include Ikari Warriors I-III, Guerilla War, TNK III, Search and Rescue, Time Soldiers, and World Wars. All but TNK III support 2-player local co-op as well.
Speaking of co-op, here’s a quick run-down of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection’s co-op games:
- Beast Busters: A first-person rail shooter that supports 3-player co-op.
- Bermuda Triangle: A vertically-scrolling shoot ‘em up with twin-stick controls (the right stick aims a turret on each aircraft).
- Guerilla War: A twin-stick shooter set on an island ruled by an evil dictator. The Japanese version casts players as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro! Unlike the NES Ikari Warriors ports, the home version of Guerilla War supports unlimited continues.
- Ikari Warriors: SNK’s first major hit stars Ralph and Clark of King of Fighters fame as they fight through jungles in this twin-stick shooter. Players can ride in vehicles – a feature that would later reappear in Metal Slug.
- Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road: Ralph and Clark return in a science fiction setting. The NES version adds life meters and improved controls.
- Ikari III: The Rescue: A graphically impressive sequel that returns to the present day and adds hand-to-hand combat but ditches ride-able vehicles. The NES version adds an underwater shoot ‘em up sequence.
- P.O.W.: A very good beat ‘em up in which players must escape from a Vietnam-like prison camp and can occasionally wield machine guns. The NES version, sadly, lacks co-op.
- Prehistoric Isle: A side-scrolling shoot ‘em up in which players pilot biplanes and battle cavemen, dinosaurs, and other monsters across a lost island. Not included in this collection: the Neo Geo sequel.
- Psycho Soldier: A spinoff of Athena, this action-platformer casts the first player as Athena in schoolgirl garb and the second player as teenage boy Kensou. Both later reappear in the King of Fighters games. Psycho Soldier is best known as the first videogame to feature a lyrical song; it’s catchy!
- Search and Rescue: In this twin-stick shooter, two astronauts fight hordes of zombies and aliens inside a crashed spaceship.
- Street Smart: A unique combination of beat ‘em up and versus fighter in which players can team up against a boss and one of his thugs. After defeating the enemies, both players must face off against each other.
- Time Soldiers: A time-traveling take on Ikari Warriors in which players visit different time periods in search of their captured comrades.
- World Wars: Another vertically-scrolling shoot ‘em up with twin-stick controls (the right stick aims a turret on each aircraft).
The emulation for these classic games is excellent, with multiple display modes offered, including original resolution, full screen, and widescreen. Game-specific border art can be turned on or off for nearly every game (a few only get generic borders). I wish we could select different borders, because the American cover artwork for Crystalis doesn’t fit the game at all. But compared to the scant two generic borders offered in Konami’s Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection, these game-specific borders easily take the cake.
Whereas the previously mentioned Konami compilation only allows save states and turbo control options to mitigate difficulty for modern players, SNK’s offering goes even farther. All games allow the use of both save states and instant rewinding. The usefulness of the rewind feature can’t be overstated when it comes to playing tough-as-nails classic arcade games. Some games also include turbo button mappings by default, and most of the arcade games offer unlimited continues as well.
Outside of the games, the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection includes some impressive bonus features. The Game Soundtracks menu includes sound tests for 13 games, several of which have stellar soundtracks. The SNK Complete Works and Bonus Features menus include abundant artwork and historical data, plus a fair number of English captions.
The only area in which the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection stumbles slightly is with Achievements and Trophies. The Xbox and PlayStation versions feature a scant 14 Achievements/Trophies, each awarded for the completion of a specific game. That means almost half the games in the collection have no Achievements. And frustratingly for Sony gamers, the PlayStation 4 version inexplicably lacks a Platinum Trophy (a common issue with Digital Eclipse titles). The Xbox One game, thankfully, offers the standard 1,000 Gamerscore, and its high-resolution Achievement artwork makes for excellent backgrounds.
With or without Achievements, the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is one of the best collections of classic games to emerge this generation. Sure, including some Neo Geo games like Metal Slug would have been cool. But you can already get those games à la carte on all three modern consoles, and SNK’s pre-Neo Geo output is just as worthy of preservation. Social gamers will love the plentiful selection of local co-op titles here, and games like Crystalis should keep solo players happy, too.
If you're interested in picking up the game and would like to support Co-Optimus, you can head over to Amazon via this link and get it from there (Nintendo Switch and PS4 versions only).
The Co-Optimus Co-Op Review of the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is based on the Xbox One version of the game. A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
The Co-Op Experience: The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection features a number of co-op titles. The list of titles is given below along with the number of players supported. Titles included on the disc/automatically as part of this collection: Ikari Warriors (Arcade and Console versions) - 2 players Victory Road (Arcade and Console versions) - 2 players Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue (Arcade and Console versions) - 2 players Guerilla War (Arcade and Console versions) - 2 players P.O.W. (only Arcade version has co-op) - 2 players Psycho Soldier (Arcade version only) - 2 players Street Smart (Arcade version only) - 2 players Available after downloading and installing 1.02 patch Chopper (Arcade version only) - 2 players Beast Busters (Arcade version only) - 3 players Bermuda Triangle (Arcade version only) - 2 players S.A.R. (Arcade version only) - 2 players World Wars (Arcade version only) - 2 players
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.