During this resurgence of retro game popularity, many game collections are being produced for modern consoles. Recent examples are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cowabunga Collection, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, Sega Genesis Classics Collection, Contra Anniversary Collection, Castlevania Anniversary Collection, The Aleste Collection, just to name a few. Even though I have the majority of the original retro games ton these collections, I still love the fact that these are being released. Not only are they being released, some of these are receiving archival bonus material, interviews, artwork, and more. These extras can justify the re-purchase of these collections, and make for a well rounded package.
Specifically, the Mega Man Legacy Collection and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cowabunga Collections, both produced by Digital Eclipse, are shining examples of how to curate a retro game collection. For those who don’t know, Digital Eclipse is headed by Frank Cifaldi, who is also the founder of the Videogame History Foundation. He takes game preservation pretty seriously. The production documents, art assets, interviews, variants, and promotional materials are just some of the extras included. The emulation is very good, with every glitch and peculiarity included, like the line flashing on the Mega Man 3 stage select screen.
I know that some people bemoan the release of yet another game collection, but I for one wholly support these collections if it means developers can continue to unearth these long forgotten games and wrap them together in a context that does them justice, and makes them conveniently available (and affordable). With retro gaming as popular as it is right now, there can be new life for these older franchises as they are introduced to younger generations, and treated with modern amenities like save states, rewind, screen shots, difficulty settings, etc. Also, the value proposition of buying all of the games together for a price lower than what their collective cost would be on the secondary market can’t be ignored.
Here are some collections that I would very much want to see released, and would be day one purchases.
Shoot’em ups are getting kind of expensive these days, and the Thunder Force series is king on the Genesis/Mega Drive. There were even releases after the 16 bit era, with TFV released on Saturn and Playstation, and even TF VI on the Playstation 2, which was only released in Japan. If these were collected on all on the same disc, imagine the value. I know some of these were ported by M2 (renowned retro game reprogrammers) to the Switch online store, so half the work is already done! Sega owns the IP, so there is no messy red tape or royalties to contend with. It’s a no-brainer.
P.S. There was a collection of sorts back in the 5th generation, titled Thunder Force Gold Pack 1 and 2. Each of these contained only 2 games. This was a paltry offering for the time, and we can do so much better now.
What started in the arcades with the landmark original continued on the Genesis with three more spectacular games. Two dimensional Ninja action platforming hit it’s peak with this series, and it should be collected. The innovation of Ninja Magic added a spark that stood out from other games of the era. The platforming is tight, and art design iconic. The arcade game is a fixture in my mind of Sega arcade action, and it had a plethora or ports (not all good). The Master System port was respectable, given its limitations. The real meat of the series is in the three Genesis releases. These games were shining examples of excellence in the Genesis library, and some of the first titles referenced when conducting a console wars debate. There was an original Game Gear game made that I hear good things about. Additional games include Shinobi: Legions on Saturn, and a bunch of third person action games on the PS2/PS3/XBox consoles. Those later games take an entirely different style, so those should be a different collection.
There actually was a Star Soldier collection for the Sony PSP back in 2008. This was a fantastic idea! It included the four PC Engine games: Super Star Soldier, Final Soldier, Soldier Blade, and Star Parodier. There could be some 8-bit games added in here as well, like the Famicom version of Star Soldier and Starship Hector (I think it is related somehow). Maybe the caravan versions could be included as well. Heck, even include the N64 game. These games play fast and input lag could be an issue, so it would require a top tier developer to port it, namely M2.
For a shooter series as revered and popular as Gradius, you would think that this would have happened already. Although the gradius arcade game was included in a Konami Arcade Classics collection, along with other early Konami games, that did not do the franchise justice. There were so many Gradius games that are itching to be collected and released. Gradius II never received a North American release, nor did Salamander (Life Force is not the same game). Gradius Gaiden, a title that many consider the best Gradius game ever, was never released here. There were Gameboy and GBA games as well. The spin off series Parodius, which has at least 3 entries, can be included. Again, these are all Konami titles through and through so there should be no extra licensing or royalties. It can and should happen!
Capcom’s 1942 was an early 1980’s arcade hit, and launched a deceptively deep franchise. The most visible titles were 1942 and 1943 as those were on the NES and produced in large print runs. There were several other games that most people don’t know about, which is a shame because each one is solid. 1943 Kai, 1941 Counterattack, and 1944 are all forgotten games and could be enshrined along with their brethren in a compilation. Each game has is different in some way, game design had evolved with each new entry, so playing through the series offers up some variety.
The R-Type franchise has a disjointed history, with releases few and far between. The original title was released in arcades, and ported to the 8-bit home consoles. R-Type II, also an arcade game, was rehashed and retitled as Super R-Type as a Super Nintendo exclusive. Following that was the excellent R-Type III: The Third Lightning, also a SNES exclusive. Years passed and R-Type Delta was released for the Playstation. The “Delta” in the name referred to it being the fourth game in the series (delta is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet). Another generation passed and R-Type Final was released on the Playstation 2. With such a wide-spanning yet sparse catalog it is unclear what makes sense to include in a compilation, but I would say the 2D games (arcade and home renditions), and the 3D games could be a separate collection.
While the Genesis trilogy has been released several times over on the seemingly annual Genesis collections, the game that has unavailable up until its recent inclusion on the Astro City Mini Arcade is Golden Axe The Revenge of Death Adder (RDA). Considered the real sequel to the arcade original, RDA fell through the cracks as Sega decided to make Golden Axe II on the Genesis a completely different game. This was most likely due RDA being on Sega’s System 18 arcade board, which was more advanced that the System 16 board, on which the Genesis was based. Additionally, a fighting game spin off titled Golden Axe: The Duel was a Japanese exclusive for the Saturn. The last game is mediocre, but what is really needed is the inclusion of RDA with the rest of the Golden Axe series.
Streets of Rage
Another Genesis Trilogy that was released several times over on Genesis compilations, I think that a dedicated SOR release with extras would be amazing. Yuzo Koshiro authored the soundtracks for all three games, and a soundtrack would be the ultimate selling point. It would be nice to have the Japanese version of SOR3, Bare Knuckle III, translated as it is the superior version of the game. The recent sequel, Streets of Rage IV is too advanced to hope to include on this one.
Why Nintendo has not compiled the rich Metroid franchise into a collection is baffling, but Nintendo has always marched to its own beat. Imagine all the 2D games together in one package: Metroid, Metroid II, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, and Metroid Zero Mission. The Metroid Prime games were collected and released on the Wii, so why can’t we get the legacy games? I suspect that since the NES and SNES games are available on Nintendo’s online service, there is less motivation for Nintendo to spend time and money on a product that they have already technically rereleased.
With so many retro franchises to resurrect, there is hope that some of these will see the Digital Eclipse or M2 treatment. Which franchises do you want to see released?