Konami Classics Series Arcade Hits
by Polly



Konami Classics Series Arcade Hits is one of those "bang for your buck" packages that slaps a ton of mediocre games onto a cart with a few "everybody wants em" games and sells itself for $20. Cashing in on nostalgia is a bit of a tiresome trend, but on the ther hand, it is good to have some of those older games you loved in a shiny new format ready to play at home or on the go without having to dump quarters in for extra continues. Hell, you won't find any of these games in the arcade anyway, because everyone's too busy playing shitty Dance Dance Revolution.

Here we get 15 games for about $20, which isn't TOO bad of a value considering some of the games on it are on XBLA for about $5 a pop. We get the typical bottom of the barrel fodder here along with a couple good games that'll ensure that fuckwits like me end up buying it. Included in this collection are:

Scramble
Horror Maze
Pooyan
Time Pilot
Roc 'n Rope
Track and Field
Circus Charlie
Basketball
Road Fighter
Yie Ar Kung-Fu
Rainbow Bell
Shao-Lin's Road
Gradius
Rush 'n Attack
Contra

Alright, now let's nix Gradius, Rush 'n Attack, and Contra off that list for a second. Now tell me, and be honest, how many of these games have you heard of? Usually, when something's a "hit" I assume it's been popular at some point in time, and is something people look back on and remember as being pretty neat. I've been playing games for nigh on 22-23 years, and though most of these games were released in the early-mid-80's, I'm sure if any of them were hits I'd have heard of at least a few others at SOME point in time. Maybe I'm just a fuckin idiot though. All signs point to "yes".

Since flat-out reviewing 15 games would make me barf, I'll handle this with 15 bite-sized blurbs about each game and then we can move onto the meat of the review - The package as a whole.


Contra, Rush 'n Attack, and Gradius
A three-fer here. These are likely the games you're either looking to buy the thing for or already have, just like myself. All three games are presented here, pretty much arcade perfect, minus aspect-ratio stuff. They play, look, and sound just the way you remember, as is the case with pretty much all the games on here. Aside from Gradius, I found enemy bullets to be way too hard to see most of the time, and I end up with one hell of an eyestrain if I focus too much without taking a five minute break here and there. It's got a lot to do with the ghosting that can occur on the DS screen. These are the backbone of the collection and worth the price of admission by themselves, in my opinion. They save this collection from being total and utter shit most of the time.

Scramble
Scramble is an official/unofficial first game in the Gradius series, and its roots clearly show here. It's a simple 2D side scrolling shmup. You're a little jet that fires a straight shot and missiles that fire in an arc toward the ground. The objective is to just keep flying and shooting, while destroying fuel tanks to replenish your own fuel reserves (my god did early 80s arcade games make one whole fuckload of sense). It's an easy to pick up and play game. There are no breaks between stages, the game just keeps trucking along and when you reach the end, you just reset. It's a good little bit of fun and a really cool piece to have with being part of the Gradius legacy.

Horror Maze
A really crappy and ridiculously tough maze game. You have to collect keys to progress in each maze, but you can only hold one at once. You have a laser you can use to dispatch your enemies and a flash bomb which will clear the screen. The shitsux about this, is that you can only fire your laser horizontally yet you'll always end up facing most of your opposition coming at you vertically. And they're fucking fast. Ridiculously fucking fast. Shit just got on my nerves and seemed unnecessarily difficult for the sake of just sucking quarters out of any idiot who'd play it more than once.

Pooyan
This is a fun little one-screen shooter where you ride an elevator on a pulley system, controlling it with up and down, while shooting enemies who are floating up and down the screen on balloons. The object is to score as many points as you can popping enemies' balloons (the only way to destroy them) and firing their shots out of the air. Once you get the hang of it, and the crazy pace this game can sometimes get to, it's a fairly decent game that'll probably last you a good 20 minutes before you decide to shut it off. Great for lunch breaks at work.

Time Pilot
This is a Bosconian-esque top down shooter where you control your aircraft freely moving and shooting in all 8 directions to take out the enemies that swarm onto the screen. The goal of each stage is to down a certain number of enemy aircraft to force a boss aircraft to appear. Take it out and then you move to the next time period. A very reflex-intensive shooter where you'll have good and bad days, if you're a shmupper like me. Enemy attack patterns get more and more difficult with each phase you complete, so the game gets pretty damn frantic. A little more to do, such as Bosconian's destroy all bases objectives, would probably keep me hooked even more and some powerups woulda been nice too, but as it stands Time Pilot is alright if you don't have Bosconian handy.

Roc 'n Rope
Meh, I just don't get it and don't see how it's fun at all. Think of Bionic Commando without the ability to actually control your grappling hook whatsoever and you have this game. You use your rope to try and climb to the top of a level but the damn thing's only thrown at one annoyingly shitty angle. Once you finally manage to hit a piece of land, you can climb up the rope and then continue your way up. Along the way to make sure you never fucking make it up there are tons of annoying enemies that you can fend off with your FLASHLIGHT! WHOOOOOOOOO! One hit, and it's all the way back to the bottom to try again. The guy also has the Spelunker Guy problem of not being able to fall more than 3 pixels or he's dead. Annoying.

Track and Field
What the fuck were they thinking trying to make this shit work on the DS? For the uninitiated, Track and Field is a game where all you do is mash buttons to make shit happen. The faster you mash buttons, the better you do. The problem with doing this shit with a DS is that, IT'S NOT A CONTROLLER AND I'M NOT PLAYING ON A FUCKING TV! If you try any of the old methods of button mashing you can't even watch the screen to see what you're doing. There's a remote control option that allows you to use a second DS to play while watching on another, but yeah, let me get right the fuck on that. Stupid, shitty, shouldn't have been on here at ALL.

Circus Charlie
A decent action-platformer that finds you in the role of Charlie the clown entertaining an audience at a circus by jumping over shit. Every stage has a circus theme and can find ol' Charlie riding a lion and jumping through hoops, avoiding obstacles on a bouncey ball, or tightrope walking. It's just a game where you jump over shit. It's pretty fucking hard at times, but there's no other real complaints other than that it's just kinda ho-hum.

Basketball
Stupid.

Road Fighter
A crummy racing game where you drive to reach the end of each course before losing all your lives or running out of fuel. It'd be nice if every god damn thing in the fucking game didn't spin you out for 3+ seconds everytime it so much as looked at you. Bleh.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu
A really REALLY early one-on-one fighter. You play as Oolong smacking up any bitch motherfucker kung-fu masta that decides they wanna get in your way. It's a one player game, so all matches are vs the computer. Every character you fight has their own specialty attacks and patterns you have to overcome in order to defeat them. You're given a fairly decent repotoire of moves to make use of with various combinations of a direction on the D-Pad + punch or kick. It's not a bad system for an early fighter, but it wears off pretty quickly.

Rainbow Bell
One of them there TwinBee games. I found it to be almost unplayable due to nothing on the screen being recognizable at all. Everything just mixes into the background and it's hard to see where anything is coming from. The in-game font is atrocious as well.

Shao-Lin's Road
A simple little kung-fu fighter that puts you in rooms of x-amount of bad guys and asks you to whoop up on em. You kick....and that's really about it. Oh, you can jump too! It's a fairly simple and somewhat boring game. Hasn't held me longer than five minutes yet.

UPDATE: I now find myself horribly addicted to this damn game. I dunno why it didn't grab me before, but now I can't stop playing the fucking thing.


Alright, now that we got all the games out of the way, we need to take a look at the package as a whole. What Konami Classics Series does that most collections like this don't bother with, is it packs in a lot of really cool features and extras to help take a bit of the sting out of playing a stinkbomb like Track and Field.

Firstly, there's in-depth information on every title you can play. This information includes scans of the original instructional flyers for both English and Japanese versions of the game most of the time. You'll also get a helpful 5-6 page "how to play" screen for each game as well. They're not written in the greatest of English, but they get the job done. Another neat feature is the inclusion of pics of the original boards that the games ran on. Pretty cool shit if you're a tech-head like me.

Aside from the info features, you're also treated to full customization of every game on here. Number of lives, how many coins it takes to play (seriously...why?), and multiple difficulty settings. Another cool feature here, is that you can either do this through the in-game menu or go to an Advanced menu where you're shown a picture of the game's board and can adjust the dip switches yourself. that's a pretty cool little idea, there. Every game can be played in its native aspect ratio (most of these games are vertically-oriented by default) or you can stretch them to fit the screen. The game also stores ALL of your high scores for all games, so you can brag to your friends. Not that they'll know what the fuck you're talking about unless it involves GTA or Master Chief anyway.

Speaking of backing up scores, the game also features a hell of a neat idea in that you can save replays of the games you play. Did you finally one-life Gradius and wanna show the world? Well, now you can! Just like emulators do these days, you can now save replays to watch over and over again. Added bonus if you're a speed runner, the game also clocks how fast you did it.

Even cooler are the DS-to-DS features. You can play co-op with a buddy in games that allow it, or you can just send them any full game they want from your copy of the game and they'll have it until they shut off their DS. This would have been an even neater idea had true wi-fi support been included, but it's still fun if you got some friends to hang out with and all wanna play something on here.

And finally, a wonderful feature for the lazy, is the addition of an autofire button for all games. You no longer have to tap, tap, tap, tap, tap that fire button (but you can!) and eventually break your thumb off! Its a nice little feature to have, even though it makes some games a little too easy at times.

So yeah, a lot of the games on here are fairly shit, but the inclusion of 3 excellent arcade ports that most people enjoy, and few other not so bad games help make a $20 purchase sting a little less. The added inclusion of the DS-to-DS functionality and all the record keeping, history behind each game, and Replay saving ability really make this a hard game to tell anyone to pass up if they have an old-school gaming itch you need to scratch.






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