Most people think of the legendary King of Fighters games when the name SNK comes up, but the Japanese company has a much richer history than just that one franchise. Since 1978, SNK has developed various kinds of arcade games that released in Japanese and American arcade scenes, as well as home consoles towards the early to mid-1990s. The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection compiles a number of these forgotten classics in one package, along with some bonus extras that cover their history. But while this is an interesting collection of old games for fans of SNK, it won’t do much for anyone that isn’t already familiar with at least one of the games included.
There are 24 arcade classics from SNK in this collection, which have releases from 1978 to 1990. The majority of the titles were ported over to home consoles like the NES, while others were exclusively made for arcades in Japan. Games like Ikari Warriors and P.O.W will be recognizable for gamers who grew up in that era, but many won’t recognize others like Athena and Paddle Mania which were more popular in regions outside of North America. The games themselves play exactly as they did years ago, but you have access to a Rewind feature for every single one of them. This might be sacrilegious to arcade purest but will be helpful for everyone else not accustomed to playing older games.
Each game has options to change up the region for which to play through, usually alternating between Japanese and North American releases. There are subtle differences between some games, like Ikari Warriors and Baseball Stars, but not every game is radically different between region and arcade to console versions.
The visuals could look a little better when switching between the arcade and console ports of certain games, as expected, but going between the regional versions of them might look and play very similar. You’ll have to look really deep to find the more specific differences, such as damage output or the number of points you get, but other than that you’ll hardly notice many variations between them.
The extra content in this SNK collection of classics is both interesting and very niche to those who know enough about SNK as a company. Concept art and promotional material for many of the games included can be viewed from the gallery, as well as a complete timeline of SNK’s arcade releases from 1978 onward. However, this only includes the arcade games bundled together in this collection, as well as a few other lesser known arcade games released in the 1980s by SNK.
You won’t find any of the big fighting game hits like the King of Fighters, Art of Fighting, or Samurai Showdown mentioned at all, despite them having a significant impact on SNK’s history. Some of the extra material is presented as is in their original format, but it would have been nice to see subtitle translations for the promos and arcade manuals of these games. They’re great to look at but would’ve been even better if you could understand all of the text marked off on them too.
The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection celebrates the arcade legacy of the company and gives fans an extra look at these old arcade games. While the extra content is meager compared to other retro game collections, and there’s no online multiplayer whatsoever, this collection still allows anyone to relive playing through these games in the best way possible without the original hardware. If you love SNK and have an affinity for many of the characters and titles they released over the years, you’ll enjoy going through this ensemble of forgotten classics.
This review is based on a digital review code for SNK 40th Anniversary Collection on Xbox One, provided by Athlon Games.