Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits - NDS - Review
As a hardcore gamer who embraced the next-generation of consoles and games with open arms, I’m also grateful to find the classics still available in some form or another whether they’re downloaded online or packaged in a collection for consoles or a handheld like the PSP or the Nintendo DS. For many this is a way to relive past favorites and for others (like me) it’s a way to experience certain games we might have missed the first time around when they were first released. With Atari, Capcom and Midway having already released their classics, Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits gives us 15 of their classics for the Nintendo DS.
The lineup of titles found in this package of arcade hits is recognizable to anyone who has spent many an hour in a pizza parlor or their local arcade. Games like Rush ’N Attack, Contra, Time Pilot and Gradius are just a small part of Konami’s list of classics that lit up the arcades but also button-mashers like Track & Field and the ever-so cute Circus Charlie. The collection also includes two of Konami’s early fighting games like Yie Ar Kung Fu and Shao-Lin’s Road as well as the 1981 classic Scramble and the 1982 Horror Maze. There’s also Roc ‘N Rope, the overly cute Pooyan, Basketball, the awful racer Road Fighter and the shooter Rainbowbell. There are enough titles here to fit everyone’s tastes whether you like simplistic platform games or shooters and yes not every hit here is gaming gold but there are more good ones here than duds.
The good news is that these games fit right at home on the Nintendo DS and that means all of these games control perfectly and fit the DS control scheme. The touch screen isn’t utilized for very much aside from pausing the game or making key selections on the main menu screen. That’s Ok, though, because all of these games were easy-to-get-into back then and are easy-to-get-into now. This is great seeing as games like Contra move from 2D side-scrolling shooter to 3D shooter throughout the entire experience. Contra, for those who remember it fondly, is still a hard shooter where you guide a Duke Nukem-like character as he shoots through jungles and alien corridors. Another game that feels perfect is Time Pilot, a sort of free-roaming aerial combat game where you pilot a futuristic fighter jet going up against enemy pilots from other time periods like 1940 Zeros.
It’s also good to see Track & Field, a game that jams together a number of Olympic events such as the 100 meter dash as well as well as pole vaulting just to name a few events. On the arcade, it was all about how hard you mash on the blue and red button and here it’s how fast you tap the A and Y button. The side-scrolling shooter Gradius is also present and it remains to be one fun shooter. While dated, Scramble, a game where you guide a space ship that fires missiles that drop like bombs, is actually pretty fun. Then there’s the martial arts classics Yie Ar Kung Fu, an early fighting game that pits you against a number of foes one-at-a-time and Shao-Lin’s Road where you take on hordes of kung fu fighting monks at once.
Then there’s the cute Pooyan, a game where you control a mama pig (or at least I think it’s a pig) fending off the wolves that attempt to reach their home to eat her children via balloons. Mama’s only line of defense is a basket she rides as well as her trusty arrows to pop the balloons. Much like Pooyan, Circus Charlie is also a cute yet simplistic game where you guide a circus clown across a trapeze while avoiding dangers such as monkeys and rings of fire. Horror Maze has you controlling a treasure hunter as you attempt to navigate a maze while avoiding enemies guarding the treasure. Horror Maze certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Roc ‘N Rope, a game where you attempt to reach the famed Bird of Fortune by climbing platforms using your trusty grappling hook.
Unfortunately, the collection also includes stinkers like Road Fighter, a sort of poor man’s Spy Hunter as well as the shooter Rainbowbell (a really poor man’s 1942). While my earliest and fondest memories where of the magnificent Double Dribble, Basketball isn’t so bad at all. Finally, there’s Rush ‘N Attack, a game that makes up for the inclusion of both Road Fighter and Rainbowbell. In Rush ‘N Attack, your character infiltrates an enemy base and takes on all the enemies alone armed with nothing but a knife and whatever weapon the enemy just so happens to drop.
Konami Classics Series also allows a friend with another cartridge to join you in games that allow co-op (like Contra) or play against (like in Track & Field) you. The multiplayer runs smoothly enough and the game even allows a friend to download a demo of any of the 15 games available.
The games do look good despite their age and, for the few games I remember fondly, they look just as they did when they first came out. You’ll find all the usual visual goodies found in each of the games and great visual effects from games like Contra as well as Rush ‘N Attack (remember frying groups of enemies with the blowtorch?). There’s a wealth of great music here as well and sound effects that will bring back memories.
Surprisingly enough, Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits is a nicely packaged collection of classics that fits the Nintendo DS perfectly. With a collection that includes hits like Contra, Roc n’ Rope and Yie Ar Kung-Fu (and one or two hits that weren’t so good), this one packs in enough retro gaming goodness that’s sure to please gamers of all ages. I definitely suggest you pick up this collection if you’re interested in revisiting these classics or enjoying them for the first time.
Review Scoring Details for Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits
These games fit the DS control scheme nicely and games like Contra and Time Pilot play like a dream. While it’s great to finally find Track & Field in a portable format, it’s great to see games like Shao-Lin’s Road and Roc n’ Rope again. Personally, we could have done without Road Fighter and Rainbowbell.
The DS manages to capture the look of each of these games and, for the most part, most of them still look pretty good. Games like Track & Field and Rush ‘N Attack still look just as I remember them. The menu screen could have looked a bit better.
The music is actually charming and memorable to the point that you won’t be reaching for the volume. You can even listen to the tunes in the Archive menu screen. The sound effects for each game aren’t bad either.
Contra is still as tough as I remember it and Gradius gradually increases the difficulty to the point that you’ll be glad you can add more lives to your game. Well, it beats slamming quarter after quarter in a cabinet.
For those of you, like me, who haven’t played Pooyan or Horror Maze before, this collection will give you a chance to experience them for the first time. The collection allows friends to download demos of each game and you can even use two DS handhelds (one can act like a controller while the other DS can act as the screen).
It’s all about co-op and the collection does two-player wireless beautifully. You’ll be happy you can take a buddy on in Track & Field or have a friend lend a helping hand in Contra.
Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits represents these classics well on the Nintendo DS and you’ll find it hard to put this one down once you start playing through the 15 games. While not every game in this collection are brilliant, there are enough gems here to make this a package you should seriously consider buying right away.