Saturday, January 23, 2010
SNK Arcade Classics Volume 0
The ESRB let the cat out of the bag on this planned installment of SNK Arcade Classics TBA for the PS2 and PSP.
"This is a collection of 20 classic arcade games comprising several distinct genres: action, fighting, sports (baseball, football, Olympics), shooting, platforming."
SNK released a previous volume, SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1, which was comprised wholly of Neo Geo titles. While it contained a solid list of titles at a great value, it is SNK's pre-Neo Geo titles I've always been more interested in. These are the games I grew up playing, a number of which had been ported to the NES (of which I own three; Athena, Ikari Warriors and Victory Road).
Moonco deserves credit for discovering the ad below from the Japanese KOF Vol. 4 comic, and identifying the games in the screen-shots. This entire blog posting is based solely on Moonco's discovery.
The big draw with this volume is the entire rotary controller, IKARI WARRIORS tree of games,
which are (in order of release); TNK III, Ikari Warriors, Victory Road, Guerilla War, and Ikari 3: The Rescue.
The only rotary controlled arcade game missing from the mix is Touchdown Fever II and Alpha Denshi's Time Soldiers (which SNK does own).
Some perhaps may even mistake Seta's two overhead rotary controlled games as SNK games.
The Seta Corporation/Seta Arcade Game Listing, which ran from October 1, 1985 to January 23, 2009, released two rotary controlled arcade games both in 1989, Caliber 50 and Downtown, which had a lot in common with SNK's rotary controlled arcade games.
Since Seta closed , I'm going to assume that all of Seta's former IP's now rest with their parent company, Aruze.
Aruze once had a working relationship with SNK. In 2000 Aruze promised financial backing for the failing SNK but instead instituted a program to liquidate SNK's assets. Sometime after SNK Playmore was founded, they sued Aruze for copyright infringement, claiming their use of SNK's intellectual properties was unauthorized by Playmore and won 57 million dollars. So Aruze licensing or selling Seta's IP's to SNK Playmore is something that won't ever happen. Probably the only way you'll ever get to play Seta's old arcade games is on MAME.
All in all, nearly half of the games in this collection (8 out of 20) of SNK arcade games utilized rotary controls in the arcade.
Replicating rotary controls at home has always proved to be a daunting task. And while dual analog sticks do work, they are not nearly as precise (if you've played Wild Western and Frontline on Taito Legends 2 you know what to expect) and will be less playable and therefore less enjoyable than they once were.
This is the largest number of rotary controlled arcade games emulated in one package ever to be released, and I feel like not including or selling a rotary controller of some sort is a disservice to retro arcade gamers everywhere. And since SNK is planning to release this on the Playstation 2 (that is, if we're lucky) instead of one of the three seventh generation consoles, you can expect little to no fanfare and no extraneous support.
The 20 titles identified from the ad are as follows;
Alpha Mission  (vertically scrolling shooter)
Athena  (side scrolling platform) Athena character overview
A punishingly difficult platformer. The NES port of which was one of the only games I owned for the NES that I never could complete, no matter how hard I tried! Even after all these years, I just had to look on Youtube to watch somebody complete that wretched game!
Bermuda Triangle (aka World Wars)  (vertically scrolling shooter) (Rotary joysticks)
Gold Medalist  (an enjoyable Track and Field clone)
Guerrilla War  (Pseudo sequel to Ikari Warriors where you play as Che Guevara) (Rotary joysticks) Releases
HAL 21  (vertically scrolling shooter)
Ikari Warriors  (Rotary joysticks) Ports
Ikari 3: The Rescue  (Rotary joysticks)
Marvin's Maze  (Maze game)
P.O.W.  (Beat'em up)
Prehistoric Isle (In 1930)  (horizontally scrolling shooter featuring dinosaurs)
Psycho Soldier  (side scroller featuring the character Athena)
SAR - Search & Rescue  (overhead shooting game featuring aliens) (Rotary joysticks)
Sasuke vs. Commander  (the third game manufactured by SNK and the first to be in color)
Street Smart  (unique in that it was the only one-on-one fighting game SNK produced pre-Neo Geo) Ports and Releases
Super Champion Baseball  (a baseball game from Alpha Denshi. The Third game in the Champion Baseball series, with improved graphics and gameplay over the first two Champion Baseball games, which shared the same graphics engine.)
TNK III  (aka TANK, Iron Tank for the NES) (the first game to use Rotary Joysticks)
Touch down Fever  (overhead football) (Rotary joysticks)
Vanguard II  (a vertically scrolling shooter. Unlike the original, there were no home console nor computer ports of Vanguard II released)
Victory Road  (Rotary joysticks)
Here are some of my personal arcade high scores from back in the day;
Zach's Lanes (formerly Petroff's) at 54th & Burleigh Milwaukee, WI
High Score of 326,200 on Saturday May 9th, 1987
Zach's Lanes (formerly Petroff's) at 54th & Burleigh Milwaukee, WI
Finished with a score of 1,238,990 on Monday April 27th, 1987
Finished with a score of 1,222,340 on Thursday April 30th, 1987
Finished with a score of 1,224,640 on Saturday May 9th, 1987
Finished with a score of 1,223,290 without losing any lives on Friday May 15th, 1987
Finished with a score of 1,226,240 on Saturday May 23rd, 1987
Finished with a score of 1,29?,??? on Sunday May 24th, 1987
Finished with a score of 1,23?,??? on Tuesday July 17th, 1987
Circus Pizza New Hope, MN
Finished game on $4.25 September 7th, 1989
*SNK purchased ADK's (aka Alpha Denshi) intellectual properties.
The games I wish were in this latest compilation most are Time Soldiers  (Alpha Denshi) (Rotary joysticks)
and Sky Soldiers  (Alpha Denshi).
Also, the brawler Gang Wars  (Alpha Deshi) and the on-rail gun games Mechanized Attack  (SNK's answer to Taito's Operation Wolf), Beast Busters  & Beast Busters - Second Nightmare  (One of only seven games to run on SNK's Hyper Neo Geo 64 Arcade Hardware).
Others include shooters Chopper I (aka The Legend of Air Cavalry) (vertically scrolling shooter featuring a helicopter), Sky Adventure  (Alpha Denshi) (vertically scrolling shooter) (while Sky Adventure is not officially the sequel to 1988's Sky Soldier's, it can be thought of as a psuedo-sequel due to the similarity in gameplay), and The Next Space  (vertically scrolling shooter).
Sports titles such as Fighting Soccer , Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf (aka Country Club) , Paddle Mania  (tennis), and Touch Down Fever II  (Rotary joysticks).
There is a noticeable lack of Pre-1985 or "Golden Age" arcade titles listed for SNK Arcade Classics 0. Although I suppose most won't miss them much, as (apart from 1981's Vanguard putting SNK on the map) it wasn't until the mid-eighties and the release of Ikari Warriors that SNK really began to hit it's stride, and the ensuing years are what SNK is known for moreso. The golden age titles omitted from volume 0 are as follows;
Gladiator 1984  (horse jumping), Jumping Cross  (motocross racing, overhead view), Lasso , Mad Crasher  (futuristic cars in a 3D isometric view, similar to Sega's Zaxxon), Main Event  (boxing), Munch Mobile  (overhead race game), Ozma Wars  (SNK's first game), Safari Rally  (SNK's second game), Satan Of Saturn , and Vanguard  Ports and Releases
Excerpts rom Wikipedia; "The game is known as one of the first scrolling shooters ever made. Also, unlike other comparable games at the time, Vanguard was unique in that the player must focus on avoiding obstacles while firing in order to survive; which made this game a precursor to Konami's Gradius and Irem's R-Type."
The following titles are game series which began in arcades (pre-Neo Geo), and followed with sequels on Neo Geo hardware.
Alpha Mission II , Baseball Stars Professional  (Baseball Stars 2 on SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1), Ghost Pilots  (sequel to 1989's Sky Adventure), and Prehistoric Isle II  Game runs on the Neo Geo MVS but was not released on the Neo Geo AES home console.