It’s hard to erase any sort of nostalgic presence that exists within our minds because for much of our childhood, it’s perhaps the backbone of our existence. For many, SNK is a company that resonates soundly within their souls, while for the younger generation who didn’t grow up in that era of gaming, these titles may very well sound relic and disenchanting. We assure you though that after picking up SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, not only will you have a greater appreciation for gaming and its wonderful evolution, but you’ll come to see just how influential of a company SNK has been over the several decades the gaming industry has existed for. With instant classics like Crysalis, Ikari Warriors as well as Psycho Soldier, just to name a few, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a retro junkie’s fantasy come to life in a small cartridge full of nostalgic greatness.
What to Expect
The mid-to-late 80’s was a pivotal time for the gaming world, as it tried to maintain its relevance in a world where at the time, was trying its best to understand it all. Technology was evolving quickly and the folks at SNK were churning out hit after hit of arcade classics as well as console exclusives, that helped to shape the gaming world at that time. SNK had their own hit console out on the market, the NEO GEO, which still to this day is arguably one of the most sophisticated home consoles to have ever been created.
It was the most powerful console at the time of its release and continued to seep over into its arcade cabinet setup, where players flocked to play the latest SNK titles. So what’s there to expect from the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection? For starters, you’re receiving the creme de la creme of the more iconic arcade titles, curated with the utmost of care for all gamers. Now just as a heads up, most of the titles within the game are again part of the early SNK arcade catalog, so don’t expect too much from this (we’re talking to you, KOF and Metal Sluggers out there!); think of the collection as paying homage to the games that helped to shape the gaming industry as we know it today.
This section should be an obvious giveaway for those reading this review, since every title within the game is all 8-bit and 16-bit visuals. That being said, there’s just something so beautiful about seeing a game in its early stages because looking at games today, visuals seem to be the primary distinguishing factor with just how well a game will sell compared to others. Back in the early days, visuals were more of the icing on the cake and a lot of care was placed towards the gameplay aspect, since playing at the arcade wasn’t very cheap and players wanted something appealing with the quarters they used.
So you became more enthralled with the overall performance rather than its visual aesthetic, but that doesn’t mean these games don’t have their own visual charm. A game like P.O.W. still looks incredible even on the Nintendo Switch handheld mode, and even the top-down-shooter Alpha Mission still looks crispy with its 1987 birthday tagged on the front. Age just doesn’t seem to affect these games in any significant way, which just goes to show you how much dedication SNK put into their titles, and how the emphasis on quality was the main core of their success.
We’ll also add that the overall presentation within the game is very organized and clean, even going as far as showcasing the original artwork of the games as you play! Attention to detail is everything and SNK nailed it heavily with this one. There’s just something to appreciate about those classic late 80’s and 90’s gaming artwork… beautiful indeed. You can also change the display mode from landscape to the more classic portrait mode to really get that retro feel! And of course, the option to play fullscreen is available also
Nowadays, a lot of popular artists are helping to revive the retro-gaming music genre by remixing them in a more modern and sophisticated fashion via synth-pop, new-retro wave and others, but with SNK 40th Anniversary Collection you’re getting the unfiltered and uncut versions of these 8 and 16-bit beauties. It’s an eargasm for just about any retro-junkie and perhaps a fresh new experience for the younger generation, but man, it’s so satisfying to hear the chiptune brought back to life and in such a way that gives these games some sort of revival. Nothing truly ever dies, it just comes back reincarnated as something better and SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a prime example of this. If you don’t believe us then pick this game up, grab a pair of quality headphones and get ready for an incredible surge of energy that perks you up and brings nothing but excitement to your soul.
In SNK 40th Anniversary Collection the gameplay is quite vast, as you have a good chunk of titles to choose from, 14 in total at the time of this review being written, along with more DLC content which is slated to drop December 11th. That DLC will bump that number up to 24 titles in total, giving SNK 40th Anniversary Collection a plethora of classics to choose from, and more gameplay time for you! Right now the current titles are within the game:
Alpha Mission - 1987
Athena - 1986 (She would later be represented in her more modern form Athena Asamiya in Psycho Soldier)
Crystalis - 1990
Guerilla War - 1987
Ikari Warriors - 1986 (KOF fans will definitely appreciate this for Ralf and Clark) - Hands down one of the best classic shoot-em-ups.
Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
Ikari III: The Rescue - Helped to usher in the more beat-em-up format we’ve come to know and love.
Iron Tank: The Invasion of Normandy
Street Smart - (not to be confused with Street Fighter. This game is all about winning money and getting the girls!)
Another cool aspect about SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is that you’re able to switch the region of the game, which doesn’t really change the gameplay much but it does change the name of the game (for example, TNK III being the US version for TANK). Small touches like that really give this game more authenticity, which only goes back to what we said earlier about how attention to detail is everything to SNK, and we can clearly see it in their presentation alone. Even the art direction is vastly different from the western release versions, since for example P.O.W. in Japan offered a more softer tone on the character’s faces and represented a more eastern aesthetic, while the western version was more rugged and certainly set the tone for what the gameplay entailed. Learning to appreciate these little things is what helps you to better appreciate and be grateful for the games we have today, because without these classics we wouldn’t have the Call of Duty’s, or the shmups we know and admire. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is a goldmine of greatness all waiting for you to just dive into and enjoy.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
While not all of the games are pleasing to play, the choices you have are quite vast and so even if you find yourself growing tired of one, there’s 13 others to choose from. Plus you have the Museum mode which allows you to travel back in time and enjoy some game soundtracks, explore the complete SNK catalog from 1978-1990, along with bonus features which we’re sure you’ll enjoy! The menu music in this mode is just so beautiful to listen to on its own! With so much on your plate, we encourage you to really take your time and take things slowly, and come to appreciate every game for what they’re worth. Every flavor has its own savory goodness, so don’t rush to finish it all in one sitting. Bask in it and really soak in all the nostalgic goodness, and be whisked away into a world where gaming was all about simplicity and pure gameplay. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is one game you don’t want to sleep on because you’re getting your money’s worth 100%.
SNK’s best collection title to date, offering a nice assortment of hits and more on the way via DLC.
Museum Mode is a charming trip back in time when gaming was just in its infancy, and you get to truly appreciate it all here. Full game soundtracks and more!
Gameplay is non-stop fun and there’s plenty to enjoy!
Some games feel a little awkward on the Switch simply due to its default control scheme coming from arcade. Will take some time to get used to for some.
We wish they added Metal Slug and Samurai Showdown. We can’t have everything, sadly.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope you found our review of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection to be worthwhile and informative! As a heads up, remember there will be 11 new titles arriving to the game December 11th. Out of the 11, 9 of these will be patched in while the remaining 2, Beast Busters and SAR: Search and Rescue, will be available as a free bundle on the game’s store page on the Nintendo eShop on its launch day. And be sure to follow us on Twitch as well so you can catch us live, playing your favorite titles!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!