SNK Arcade Classics PSP Minis
Available for: PSP, PS3
Official website: neogeostation.snkplaymoreusa.com
Developer G1M2 has released a series of eight SNK Playmore arcade games from the ’80s on the PlayStation Network. The PSP Minis games (which can also be played on the PS3) mostly fall under the shooter category, from top-down to side-scrolling, with a few other genres mixed into the foray. The mix of games shows a good view of SNK’s initial history of arcade gaming culture. Read on below for review recommendations of eight PSP Minis SNK games, which are now available for $2.99 each from the PlayStation Store.
Ikari Warriors is one of SNK’s original hits in the USA and garnered a cult following throughout the ’80s. This version on the PSP keeps most of the game’s fundamentals intact. While the lack of dual rotary joysticks from the original arcade cabinet can become a nuisance, the auto-aim feature helps retain the 360 feel while shooting. The gameplay can be unforgiving with hordes of enemy soldiers bombarding Ralf and Clark with a hail of gunfire, so prepare for the frustration of most ’80s & early ’90s shooter games. While the difficulty seems like a detractor, it is actually quite fun. Ikari Warriors is best enjoyed with a second player and played on the PS3.
Ikari Warriors recommendation:
The game Marvin’s Maze seems on the surface like the offspring of PAC-MAN and two-story building with a series of elevators. It also seems like a simple game, but can be highly addicting in its challenging nature, and is a great action-puzzle game. Marvin has two ways to win in this G1M2 port of the game by SNK: either complete the decimation of the required amount of “Robonoids” (located at the screen bottom) or by collecting the dots on the screen. There are special “power-up” dots which, like PAC-MAN, allow you to destroy an enemy. In this case, Marvin is given one-shot rather than a specific time of invincibility. I found Marvin’s Maze to be a fun game to play and enjoy in retro fun with the family.
Marvin’s Maze recommendation:
Ozma Wars is among the first original scrolling shooters, which was released in 1978. The premise is quite simple: shoot enemy ships on their way down towards your spacecraft. While the gameplay won’t garner any accolades, it should be noted the history this game set. It is one of the first games to use levels and also the inclusion of the life/energy counter or bar. The monochromatic color palette may bore some but it should be noted that this game is straightforward and nostalgic fun.
Ozma Wars recommendation:
HAL21 was released in 1985 and is another shooter game that stands out in its own right. The vertical top-down shooter is action-packed and while it may have too many sprites on-screen for some to bear, this game will test one’s hand/eye coordination to the max. HAL21 is highly reminiscent of Galaga, for those who are wondering what game it is comparable to. I found the challenge enough to warrant the purchase of this downloadable game from SNK and worth trying out for an exciting two-player shooter.
Athena is a side-scrolling platform action game. Players assume the role of a warrior princess roaming throughout various levels, taking on the denizens of enemies scattered throughout. The game features various upgrades such as armor and weaponry, which seems appealing at first but is rather grueling due to the fact that you end up downgrading equipment if you run into some by mistake – highly annoying. While Athena includes some delightful characters and environments, this is a game which some may or may not enjoy due to better arcade platformers of the time.
Sasuke vs. Commander
Sasuke vs. Commander places you in the role of Sasuke, a warrior tasked with protecting the local Shogun from the Ninja. While the game’s name comes off as slightly appealing, little interest will come from playing this G1M2 port of the SNK Playmore original. Sasuke vs. Commander comes off as a horrid Space Invaders clone set in feudal Japan, but due to the original year of release can be slightly forgiven. While a complex attention to detail shouldn’t be expected, the game’s bland settings and shooting falling pixels (not sure what the enemies are) make this game a chore. Unfortunately this is a game I would not recommend to anyone.
Sasuke vs. Commander recommendation:
Guerilla War, another overhead shooter, is in the vain of Ikari Warriors. The gameplay in this game of two unnamed soldiers (in Japan, it’s supposed to be Che and Fidel) invading a Caribbean island. It is super noisy, highly frenetic and has a demanding level of skill. All the things a ’80s arcade cabinet shooter should be. G1M2 did well on this port of SNK’s classic arcade game. It has retained most of the Japanese originals graphics, characters and locales. While the inclusion of political figures may not sit well with some (many games in the ’80s and even today dabble in those subject areas) the game is still an enjoyable pixelated romper stomper.
Guerilla War recommendation:
Vanguard is a multi-directional shooter. While the Star Trek-like theme music and game concept made me want to like it, it left me seeking more. Vanguard on the PSP and in the original featured a spaceship attacking oncoming waves of assailants while utilizing firepower in four directions; in this case triggered with the four face buttons on the PSP. The game becomes extremely simple with energy fields, which appear nearly every time your first one runs out. The energy fields allow you to fly into enemies and destroy them. I believe this one feature made for a game that was far too redundant in the idea of being a challenge and made for a lackluster playthrough. Vanguard will be hit or miss with some gamers, being a predecessor to the style of shooters like R-Type. That, however, may be enough to draw in gamers who enjoy the genre who would like a taste of shooter history.
Thanks to SNK Playmore and Michael Meyers Public Relations for making this review possible!