SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Review

Old-school arcade awesomeness

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a Switch on

ESRB Teen rating

When it comes to retro arcade games, SNK have produced many timeless classics and hidden gems. Here we have a brand new compilation to celebrate their 40th anniversary (mazel tov!) and what a wonderful collection it is.

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection screenshot 1
Hey, Athena; that's Kirby's job!

The overall package

Before I discuss the games, I'd like to describe how well put together SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is. For starters, the menus are super-smooth and filled with imagery from the included games. Once you dive in, you'll see that a lot of care and attention went into providing as comprehensive of an experience as possible. Each game has some basic options that can make it easier or more challenging, customizable controls, and various display settings with game-specific borders. There are even features to make these retro experiences more enjoyable for modern gamers such as a rewind button and the ability to assign turbo to certain buttons so you can get in a few rapid fire attacks. You can also switch between landscape and portrait display modes so playing undocked definitely has its benefits.

The amount of depth that the developers went into is almost unheard-of when it comes to retro game compilations. For example, the featured twin-stick games allow you to use just one stick if you want to play with a friend and use one Joy-Con each. Also, these types of games let you toggle auto-fire which has your character automatically shoot in the direction that they're aiming which makes it feel like a more modern shooter. My hat's off to SNK for being around for 40 years and reviving their back catalog in such a fantastic way.

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From Vanguard to Alpha Mission, SNK shmups are super-fun

The games

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection includes games from SNK's earlier years so you won't find any Neo Geo classics like Metal Slug here. However, I'm perfectly fine with that because these older games are much more defining, in my opinion. Anyway, there are 14 games available at launch and another 11 games will be released a month later in a free patch as well as free DLC. Not only that, many of the games include their arcade and console counterparts and more often than not, these versions are radically different to each other. Additionally, you can play many of the games in either their American or Japanese versions although the differences are far less noticeable than with the different platforms. With all of that being said, let's take a look at the entire list of included games.

List of games in SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

  • Alpha Mission ¹ ²
  • Athena ¹ ²
  • Crystalis ²
  • Guerrilla War ¹ ²
  • Ikari Warriors ¹ ²
  • Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road ¹ ²
  • Ikari III: The Rescue ¹ ²
  • Iron Tank ²
  • P.O.W.: Prisoners of War ¹ ²
  • Prehistoric Isle in 1930 ¹
  • Psycho Soldier ¹
  • Street Smart ¹
  • TNK III ¹
  • Vanguard ¹
  • Beast Busters ³
  • Bermuda Triangle ³
  • Chopper I ³
  • Fantasy ³
  • Munch Mobile ³
  • Ozma Wars ³
  • Paddle Mania ³
  • SAR: Search and Rescue ³
  • Sasuke vs. Commander ³
  • Time Soldiers ³
  • World Wars ³

¹ includes arcade version
² includes NES / Famicom version
³ will be available as free DLC on December 11

As you can see, the collection of games is fantastic as it offers a fairly wide range of action-packed genres. Shoot 'em ups like Vanguard, Alpha Mission, and the highly enjoyable dinosaur themed Prehistoric Isle in 1930 are incredible inclusions for shmup fans while shooters such as Guerrilla War and the Ikari Warriors games offer some intense cooperative twin-stick shooting excitement. Athena and its goofy sequel Psycho Soldier are iconic 2D action games that helped define SNK's early years. Meanwhile, Crystalis and Iron Tank are a couple of particularly underrated NES games, especially the former. Crystalis is a fast-paced action RPG that reminds me a great deal of the Ys series and it's an absolute treat. I wish I discovered it sooner! Finally, brawler fans are sure to love the arena fighting in Street Smart and the memorable adventure contained within P.O.W.: Prisoners of War. These are some great games and there are still more to come.

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection screenshot 4
Fighting for your life in P.O.W.: Prisoners of War is so satisfying

The extras

One thing that I find myself complaining about ad nauseam when it comes to classic game ports and compilations is that they rarely feature museum-style content. It pleases me to say that SNK 40th Anniversary Collection features tons of images, informative text, and music. First, SNK Complete Works 1978-1990 includes art, screenshots, and information along with plenty of fun facts for dozens of SNK titles. Next, Bonus Features is a similar menu although with advertising materials, behind-the-scenes concept art for Crystalis, a showcase for a lost game (Tangram Q), and scans of Video Game Land newsletters and arcade guide books. Finally, Game Soundtracks includes 12 full soundtracks, one for each available arcade game. Needless to say, the amount of bonus content is superb.

I don't have anything particularly negative to say about SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. The games are emulated perfectly and the compilation itself is comprehensive and full of welcome features. However, I wish there was an online component to help bring these classics into the modern age. Being able to challenge or cooperate with players from around the globe would have been awesome. The fact that there are no online rankings is a bit disappointing, too. I also enjoy completing lists of challenges while playing retro games as that ushers in a fresh sense of accomplishment. There are achievements here but they're rather lame as they merely involve completing certain games. Why couldn't they include some fun challenges instead of this lazy list of achievements?

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Is any arcade game more macho than Ikari Warriors or Guerrilla War?

Classic game compilations don't get much better than SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. Its selection of games, well done presentation, and oodles of cool features and extras make it a must-have compilation for any retro gamer.

  • + Superb collection of classic SNK games that offers a wide range of genres
  • + Comprehensive features and presentation
  • + Loads of museum-style content and extras
  • - Could use features such as online multiplayer and leaderboards
  • - Achievements are pretty barebones
8.6 out of 10
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