Time for our regular quick-fire reviews and impressions of what’s been under the spotlight at Retro Arcadia this week, old and new and a bit of both…
Capcom Fighting Collection on Nintendo Switch is really turning out to be incredible value for money. After about a month of play since release, apart from the customary dabble with everything on there, so far I’ve properly played one character in two Darkstalkers games! This week I’ve still been at it with Morrigan in the second in the series, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge. This game is really something special, and the animation especially continues to blow me away, but it really has got everything! And while I’m terrible at fighting games, I was pretty pleased with my performance in the quick clip here – for anyone else though, maybe ignore the crude gameplay and just enjoy the good-looking leaping about!
What I’m not so terrible at is Hyper Sports, though I have a bit of practice now! It’s regularly resurfaced over the years, and since the original got an Arcade Archives release on Nintendo Switch a couple of years ago, it’s often come out to play whenever I notice the icon in my game library. And then usually I’m done with it again after a few games, but sometimes – like this time – I end up getting totally hooked and can’t put it down for days on end! Not that a Switch Joy-Con is exactly the optimum way to play it, but it’s not terrible either, especially on events like shooting and archery that aren’t reliant on finger motion, and any way to play these old arcade favourites at home will never get old for me!
I’ve also been playing the arcade version of Gradius on the Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection on Switch, as well as a few conversions. I can usually have a decent run through the first three stages on any version, but not the one I owned first on the ZX Spectrum! Known by its international name of Nemesis over there, on the surface it’s impressive and looks, feels and even sounds near enough to the original. But it doesn’t take long for some horrendous collision detection to kick-in, followed by some horrendous checkpointing if you have somehow managed to get to the stage one boss, for example! Over on the NES it’s fantastic, albeit a bit limited in the amount it can throw at you at any given time, so for something pretty close to the original I’d recommend the PC-Engine port, which, apart from a bit more slowdown than the arcade version, is as good as it gets…
Or so I thought! Turns out there’s a homebrew for the Amiga by Abyss Cooperation called Tinyus, released last year but seemingly still in beta, and it’s outstanding – possibly that holy grail of an arcade perfect conversion even in its current state! The sprites, the lighting and the movement are totally authentic, the music really pops, and while I know the original’s brand of horizontally scrolling shoot ‘em up wasn’t the most sophisticated, if I were to do a side-by-side taste test on the gameplay I’d be hard-pressed to know which was which. It’s just a shame it took so long to get here!
Sticking with the Amiga, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi might also stake a claim as one of its great conversions, even if I always found the source material a little clumsy to play! It’s a 1988 port of the 1984 arcade game, ditching the iconic vector graphics of the first Star Wars arcade game (its “predecessor” Empire Strikes Back actually came a year later!) for isometric raster graphics, and gameplay that feels like Zaxxon meets Spy Hunter as you fly through the forests of Endor on a speeder bike before switching to the Millennium Falcon to take down the Death Star reactor, before then alternating between that and a stolen AT-ST to have a go at an Imperial cruiser. This conversion looks spot-on and some of the colours pop more than even the original, and while I think the audio has been toned down a little and the scrolling isn’t quite as smooth, it’s another case of hard to tell them apart in the heat of the action!
Next up, it might be an all-time favourite, but I had no idea Balloon Fight came out on Game Boy Advance until I was researching an upcoming piece on it here this week, and what a perfect fit! It’s the NES take on Joust on a smaller screen, but what it’s lost in size it more than makes up for in gameplay, with nothing lost in the button-tapping movement and the increasingly fiendish cat and mouse flight around perfectly-suited single-screen level designs as you try to collide with the enemies from just a bit higher than they are. Amazing that it had already been out for the best part of two decades when this version arrived too – exactly two decades ago!
Finally this week, I don’t know how this happens, but every time I’m at a bit of a loose end big game-wise I end up wandering the foggy streets of Silent Hill again, and this time I was doing so in Silent Hill 2 to be specific! I know I could play through it in my sleep at this point, but that’s no fun so I’ve gone with the HD Collection (such as it is) on Xbox instead, with the so bad it’s good updated voice-acting for a change! I have nothing new to say about this – will just always be my happy place!
In case you missed it earlier this week, there’s a big new Retro Arcadia post rediscovering Capcom’s 1994 arcade beat ‘em up classic Alien vs. Predator if you’d like to check that out. And next Wednesday we’ll be heading back over to the Commodore 64 for a true eighties icon with Roland’s Rat Race. See you there, Rat Fans. Yeeaaahhhh!