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SNK 40th Anniversary Collection Highlights Crystalis as its most Notable Oddball Classic

by Ron Duwell | November 6, 2018November 6, 2018 1:30 pm PST

SEGA reigns supreme as the company best in touch with its classic roots as SEGA Genesis Classics finally becomes available on all consoles next month. Capcom has been graciously dipping deeper into its roots as of late, and Square Enix never falters to tack on a few extra bucks for its eternal masterpieces.

Nintendo… well… Nintendo is always playing catch up on the retro scene, but you know, its got better things to worry about.

And then there is SNK. Second tier status has always undeservedly hung over the company’s head in North America due its NEO GEO console failing to find mainstream success and its arcade games never fully finding their ways to our shores. However, since the late 90s, emulators have done a fabulous job introducing gamers to the lost SNK classics over the years, and a company called HAMSTER now recreates those classics using excellent emulation on modern consoles.

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But even the offbeat developer has some oddball hits that retro enthusiasts know little about. This is what you’ll find in the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. Not Metal Slug, not Samurai Showdown or Fatal Fury. Not the games you see HAMSTER recreating. You’re going to find the most hardcore of SNK games from the era defined by its first quality game in 1981 to the release of pre-NEO GEO in 1990, the kind of games you dig out from between the cushions after a couple of decades and feel “Hey, this is kinda good!”

Now, I’m no SNK enthusiast in that regard. I like the company, but I was purely an RPG player in those days. I know of Athena in her skimpy bikini, and I know how Ikari Warriors is the company’s attempt at replicating Commando. However, most of these games are foreign to me.

The only game in the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection I can swear by is Crystalis. I mean, just look at that box art.

Crystalis is a game developed directly for the NES, a very different approach from the arcade games that SNK usually made in those days. This also accounts for why I know of it. It is very much the company’s attempt to capitalize on the popularity of The Legend of Zelda, sporting similar combat, powers, and dungeon exploration. However, the aesthetic couldn’t be more different. You play as a nameless character who emerges from a forbidden tower into a post-apocalypse land, one overrun by deserts, swamps, and monsters.

Those looking to compare the look of this game to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind or other anime classics of that era are not that far off, and this that regard, it’s more akin to the indie hit Hyper Light Drifter than anything The Legend of Zelda has done in recent memory.

And at 10 hours long, Crystalis is also, easily, the meatiest game in the bundle, providing a full-fledged adventure as opposed to SNK’s usual “pick up and play” arcade experiences.

It’s this game which leads a list of twenty-four games that will come with the bundle. Thirteen arcade and console ports be available upon purchase:

  • Alpha Mission (arcade and home versions)
  • Athena (arcade and home versions)
  • Crystalis
  • Ikari Warriors (arcade and home versions)
  • Ikari III: The Rescue (arcade and home versions)
  • Guerrilla War (arcade and home versions)
  • P.O.W. (arcade and home versions)
  • Prehistoric Isle in 1930
  • Psycho Soldier
  • Street Smart
  • T.N.K. III (arcade and home versions)
  • Vanguard
  • Victory Road (arcade and home versions)

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And a further 11 games will be added as free DLC in the future. These include:

  • Munch Mobile
  • Sasuke vs. Commander
  • Fantasy
  • Time Soldiers
  • Chopper I
  • World Wars
  • Beast Busters
  • ZMA Wars
  • Paddle Mania
  • Bermuda Triangle
  • Search and Rescue

All 24 games will set you back $39.99 on the Nintendo Switch on Nov. 13. True, that’s a bit more pricey than the $29.99 you’re spending for 53 SEGA Genesis games next month, but this is also the only way to legitimately play these games anymore. Hardcore arcade enthusiasts will find a lot to chomp on here.

Me? I wouldn’t mind blazing through Crystalis for old time’s sake.

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Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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