SNK Arcade Classics V.1 Review
It's hard to consider some of these early Neo Geo releases as "classics," but at least there's a good variety of game styles in SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1.
While SNK is usually remembered solely for its rich catalog of high-quality fighting games, there's a lot more to the company's history than King of Fighters or Mark of the Wolves. SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 for the PSP and PS2 shines a light on some of the other Neo-Geo games in the company's archives with a compilation of 16 games. Unfortunately, the emulation gets a little shoddy in spots and the PSP version, in particular, has pretty lengthy load times.
The package covers a decently wide array of older Neo-Geo releases and includes Art of Fighting, Baseball Stars 2, Burning Fight, Fatal Fury, King of the Monsters, Last Resort, Magician Lord, Metal Slug, Neo Turf Masters, Samurai Shodown, Sengoku, Shock Troopers, Super Sidekicks 3, King of Fighters '94, Top Hunter, and World Heroes. Many of these are earlier Neo-Geo releases and don't show off the great graphics and fluid animation found in later releases on the long-lasting home hardware, so some of this stuff only works in a nostalgic sense. Once you've played the later games in the KOF series, for example, it's hard to care about the first one. Also, I would have liked to see The Super Spy included in this list, but then, I already own a copy of it in its original form.
There are some specific emulation issues that pop up in both versions of the game. A lot of the audio sounds off, like it's being loaded up separately and plays a half-second later than it should. This usually only occurs the first time you hear a sound, like it's loading up the sounds and then caching them for later use. Some sounds are noticeably of a different quality than other, similar sounds, like the pre-fight speech in Samurai Shodown--the lead-up to the fight sounds crystal clear, but the word that actually starts the fight sounds muffled and lo-fi. Shock Troopers freezes up for split-seconds here and there whenever it tries to play new sounds. It can get pretty annoying.
The package contains some concept art and move lists, but you can't see any of it right away. Instead, each game has a set of specific, achievement-like medals to earn, with a variety of tasks, such as getting a birdie in Neo Turf Masters or beating a fighting game on the highest difficulty. Each medal unlocks something else, and you actually have to pick up ten medals to unlock World Heroes.
If you have a soft spot in your heart for any of these old big-cart classics, you'll probably be able to overlook the emulation issues and load times, but some of these early Neo-Geo games don't hold up so well today, so make sure you know what you're getting yourself into before you commit.