Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits, released as Konami Arcade Collection in Japan and Konami Arcade Classics in Europe and Oceania, is a collection of 15 classic arcade games by Konami for the Nintendo DS.
Over the last few years I've been trying to rack up as many game compilations as possible. Most of them are from a long gone era in gaming, and many of these games are directly responsible for me being the die hard gamer I am today. Games have been a big part of my childhood, and I often wondered would my interest still be the same for many of these titles in the here and now. Fortunately, I have been enjoying them for the most part, and Capcom has been keeping me pretty happy with their releases, and Sega has put a nice smile on my face as well. Midway and Taito have been pretty good, and because of this I had high hopes for Konami since I remembered most of the games on this set. Unfortunately, many of these games were better off left in my distant past, because I can only play about 3 of them at any given time. While many of the other ones I'm just going to forget that they even exist.
Konami dug deep into the crates and re-released 15 games that were released in the early to mid 80's. A couple of these games would go on to become classics, while most of them would be forgotten and for very good reasons. These are the games on the set:
Scramble, Horror Maze, Pooyan, Time Pilot, Rock 'N Rope, Track & Field, Circus Charlie, Basketball, Road Fighter, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Rainbowbell, Shao-lin's Road, Gradius, Rush 'N Attack, Contra
This collection has a variety of games consisting of side scrolling beat em ups, plat-formers, plat former shooters, horizontal and vertical shooters, and sports. Konami could have cut back on the shooters though, because there are just WAY TOO MANY, and they all pale in comparison to the ones which are considered classics.
Contra is no doubt the game that I'm sure most people will buy, or have already bought this collection for. For those who don't know, this is a side scrolling plat-former shooter, and the objective is to blast your way through several stages with a stage boss waiting at the end. The game focuses more on memory and enemy placement, and it can be very difficult. The player will be able to pick up different weapons with different abilities from a spread shot which fires in multiple directions, or a laser that shoots straight ahead. For those who only played the NES version, this is a heads up to come in expecting a somewhat different game. Also, something to keep in mind here, Contra was meant to be a quarter muncher, so you will die a lot of garbage deaths that you normally wouldn't on the NES version. This does hamper the game play.
Gradius has also been regarded as a classic, and it's a very difficult horizontal spaceship shooter, with a boss at the end of each stage. The bosses have weak points that must be hit in order to kill them. This game features weapon and speed upgrades that can be achieved by picking up icons, and using them on a meter located at the bottom of the screen. The one thing about this game I could never get over is how easy the final boss is when compared to everything else. Rush N' Attack is a side scrolling platformer that follows a Special Forces troop, who is armed with a knife and your purpose is to rescue P.O.W.s. Along the way you can pick up weapons like flamethrowers, bazookas, and hand grenades. The weapons really come in handy because they take out scores of enemies, and make boss battles a lot easier.
Circus Charlie is another hard plat-former that follows a performer through six circus acts that consist of bouncing on trampolines, walking on balls, and riding lions and horses through challenging obstacle courses. You will guide him by jumping through fire rings, jumping over monkey's on a tight rope and even over dolphins. But I don't think this game is a faithful port though. I remember being able to select the stages in the arcade, and I didn't see the select screen here. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I'm not too sure. In any case, this is one of the better titles here that mainly relies on timing, the different stages add a lot of range to the game play. Pooyan, which is another shooter, has you take control of a pig who is armed with arrows in a basket or something that is lowered on a rope. Your goal is to shoot down a bunch of foxes who are using balloons to get to your family. My issue with this game is the repetitive game play that got boring really quick for me. I normally can't play through more than 3 stages of this.
Yie Ar Kung Fu can be considered an inspiration for Street Fighter, you play as a martial artist named Oolong, who must fight his way through 11 fighters with 16 different moves. Both fighters have a health gauge which decreases with each hit. This would be a great game but the hit detection is s***! You will miss most of your moves at close range, while the computer will land many. Most of the fights come down to a war of attrition, and against one of the fighters named "Pole" who well, fights with a pole, this is a death sentence here. Since he sometimes lands up to 3 consecutive hits. Your character also has the ability to jump from one side of the screen to another in hopes of gaining ground on projectile wielding opponents. Forget about that, because they will dash right under your legs to the other side of the screen, and pick up where they left off. You need an ungodly amount of patience for this game. Shao-lin's Road reuses the same character from what I believe but with very limited moves. This is a plat former where you leap up or down to scale the plat forms and defeat enemies, with either a straight kick or jump kick. There are five stages here with two areas; the second area is the exact same stage, except this time a boss appears and they take several hits to die.
Scramble is a generic shooter with a ship that fires straight ahead and drops bombs. This is one game that I just can't get into. Time Pilot is a vertical shooter with a 360 degree set up. Your purpose is to blast away all enemies and a boss appears. Blah!
Road Fighter is a garbage racer, and you have to make it to the checkpoint before you run out of fuel. Your fuel gauge increases when you run into glowing cars. This is a watered down Spy Hunter with practically no replay value at all. DUD! Basketball is just something I can't get into. Trash!Track & Field is a button masher that follows an athlete as he attempts to break records during different obstacles; such as a 100 meter dash, long jump, and other things. I hate this one too.
Horror Maze is a horrible plat former that follows some guy running throw a maze avoiding some type of creatures. The game plays like a broken Robotron: 2084, with the ability to fire a laser in only two directions, but you're defenseless against enemies who attack from above and below. Pure garbage! Rainbowbell is a vertical shooter with a ship that fires lasers and bombs. Oh man, I just about had it with these damn things by now. Rock 'N Rope is a different type of plat former, where the player must fire a grappling hook in an angle to scale the other platforms, and make it to the top and fly away on some bird. Blocking your path are dinosaurs and cavemen, who can climb the levels and break your rope killing you in the process. You have a weapon that stuns them for a brief period but doesn't kill them. It has its fun moments, but it also frustrates me too.
Several games play pretty well like Rush 'N Attack, Circus Charlie, Shao-lin's Road, and Yie Ar Kung Fu. The controls are pretty responsive for them, while Contra feels a little clunky at times. Gradius and Road Fighter perform well, but the controls are effected only when the speed is decreased or increased which was more than likely the intention. Overall, there aren't many issues here.
I think Contra stands out the best in the graphics department. There's detail in the weapon designs, plus the animation when the characters are jerking from gunfire which has that realistic look. Same thing with Rush 'N Attack, the character switches animation when he has a ready grenade in his hand. Horror Maze looks terrible with its tiny sprites, and everything else is either average or close to it but mainly dated. There are some notable sound effects like the bomb drops in Scramble and different gun effects in Contra. There are a few decent tracks for Shao-lins Road, Yie Ar Kung Fu, but once again Contra stands out the best here.
There are only a few games here that I actually bother with once in awhile. Shao-lins Road is very addictive, and I enjoy Rush 'N Attack. Gradius I don't bother with at all, because I have the Gradius Collection and prefer most the sequels anyway. Circus Charlie gets a good amount of play, and I consider it the most well rounded plat-former of the bunch. Most of the other games don't even exist to me.
I do not for any reason recommend this to those who did not grow up on these games. This set is mainly for those retro gamers from where I see it, as well as serious shooter fans. I like shooters, but these play way too much alike and I feel many of them could have been left off. I don't regret buying this collection, but one thing is for sure. I'm going to be more careful in the future when diving into these really old compilations.
Pros: -15 games, Good port overs
Cons: -Many feel very dated, Too many shooters, most games will not get much play
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