Video game companies come and go, so it takes a special one to have the staying power to survive decades in the industry. Lasting four decades as a software and hardware developer is no small feat. Celebrate 40 years of history with the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, available for the Nintendo Switch.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: SNK, Digital Eclipse
Publisher: NIS America
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
A new world of gaming
SNK Corporation is a Japanese game developer and hardware manufacturer dating back to July of 1978. They cut their teeth in the coin-op world, joining the rapidly growing arcade gaming market of the 70’s and early 80’s. SNK would produce over two dozen cabinet games by 1986, the year that home consoles began to creep more steadily onto the market. From this point on SNK would diversify and port many of its arcade classics to home consoles as well.
One of SNK’s most memorable contributions to gaming history is the advent of its “Neo-Geo” arcade machines. Neo-Geo cabinets were among the first modular arcade cabinets—meaning that one cabinet was able to contain multiple games. The success of Neo-Geo truly helped solidify SNK’s position in the video game market.
The golden age
Being present during the boom on coin-op cabinets means that SNK shares in what many would consider to be the golden age of arcades. The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection focuses on the developer’s earliest titles. It features some of the earliest SNK arcade classics through to its first forays into the home console market. Many players (including myself) remember SNK titles being among their first gaming experiences.
You’ll find two dozen titles available on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. And you can bump that number up significantly higher when you consider that many include both the arcade and home console versions of those games. In some cases the differences are substantial enough to make each version feel like an entirely different game.
It’s tough getting old
Probably one of the most important factors to consider in a collection of older games is how well they hold up. Naturally just about any game is going to lose some of its appeal over time. Still, some games just seem to age a little bit better than others.
I am familiar with at least a few games on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. Titles like Ikari Warriors bring back fond memories of couch co-op with friends on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I also certainly put my share of quarters into the arcade version of the classic war game P.O.W.
Unfortunately I would say the lion’s share of titles here just don’t play as well today as they did decades earlier. It was a mild disappointment to find that Ikari Warriors didn’t quite play as well as my memory recalls. If I had to hazard a guess, I would suspect that gamers who didn’t grow up on these games will likely find little to impress them.
That said, P.O.W. is definitely an exception, and probably one of the highlights of the collection for me. The combat feels almost as good as I remember, and is about as welcoming as could be expected from a 30 year old title.
A vehicle for nostalgia
So certainly not every game on the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a joy to play by 2019 standards. That doesn’t mean that the collection is not a good purchase however. There are definitely still ways to enjoy these golden age classics.
I personally enjoy simply revisiting some of these games for a bit of nostalgia. Even if they don’t hold up as well over time, it’s still a lot of fun to remember just what games were like when I was younger. It’s interesting to recall how certain games played and made me feel at one point in time, compared to the way they impact me decades later.
The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a great educational experience as well. Younger gamers with an interest in the industry would absolutely be well-served to understand the roots of early gaming contained in these experiences. Many of the mechanics and ideas in early SNK games have had significant influence on those that came afterward. For example, the early arcade classic Vanguard is a huge influence on later side-scrolling space shooters such as Gradius and R-Type.
Another reason to enjoy the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection comes in the form of some neat additional features. For example, the main menu holds a museum mode chock-full of original artwork and interesting facts about each title.
The game also includes a rewind function, where players can rewind time for a period in order to replay action. This is an absolute must in any modern collection of classic games, and I’m really happy that it is included here.
The ability to rewind allows players to conquer games that were previously much more difficult to progress in, without having to spend an inordinate amount of time doing so. In my opinion it’s one of the best ways to relive old games or to play them for the first time. It really serves the collection’s purpose, which is more to experience and appreciate a slice of history than it is to approach these games as though they are new and relevant in their current state.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a nostalgic compilation of some golden age games
For better or for worse, the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection reminds us just how far games have come over the past 4 decades. Many of these titles did impressive things and made groundbreaking innovations at their prime. That said, most don’t really have hooks to keep modern gamers engaged for long periods of time.
However, if you look at the collection from more of a gaming museum perspective, it has much to offer. There’s a lot of interesting history here, and many of the features packaged in to the collection are designed to help players enjoy it thoroughly. With so many games gathering in one place, there’s bound to be some nostalgia tucked in for most older gamers as well.
+ 24-plus golden age classics
+ Museum and gallery mode
+ Rewind feature
– Most games are significantly dated
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF SNK 40th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5