It’s a similar story with Thunder Cross, which isn’t related to Gradius but is a very similar sort of horizontally scrolling shooter. As the in-game documentation helpfully explains the original Japanese version featured the ability to control the spacing between the Option satellites that follow your ship, but this is the American version which swapped that ability for a smart bomb.
The other games are Typhoon, which includes an unusual mix of 2D and 3D shooting sections, and TwinBee, which was Konami’s attempt to create a clone of Namco’s Xevious but featuring cutesy graphics.
And then there’s Haunted Castle, which we’d never heard of before but was essentially a remake of the first NES Castlevania, from before the invention of Metroidvania. It’s a rather half-hearted effort though and rendered almost unplayable nowadays because Simon Belmont walks like he’s got a bad case of piles and we couldn’t stop sniggering at him.
The ports are by HAMSTER Corporation, the developer behind the well-respected Arcade Archives, so the games play exactly as they did back in the day – although that does include quite a bit of slowdown in some of the Gradius games. There’s a minimum of extra options though and the in-game documentation, including some interesting concept sketches and an interview, is clearly a low-res scan of a Famitsu guide book from Japan.
We’re really not sure what to say about all this in the end. We have very fond memories of some of these games, especially Salamander, but the compilation itself is lazy and incomplete to the point that we’re not even sure what it’s trying to do. We can’t say we’re surprised but, as happens so often with Konami nowadays, we are disappointed.
Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection
In Short: A seemingly random collection of Konami arcade games that’s so incoherent and bare bones it won’t please retro fans or newcomers.
Pros: All the games are still perfectly playable and some of them are genuine classics. The museum section has some interesting trivia.
Cons: The selection of games is bafflingly random and not very generous, especially given only the American versions are included. Cheap presentation and minimal options.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Developer: HAMSTER Corporation and Konami
Release Date: 18th April 2019
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