[RetroPicks] Retro inspired PS2 compilations Vol.1

Hello guys,

If you happen to read this blog, from time to time you will see some posts of the column [Stuff I wish I had] in which you can read my ramblings about all of the games I’d like to have and that usually I don’t own because they’re rare and/or too expensive. In some cases ths games I wanted were just “regular” games but with a particular appeal for me, like the many PS2 retro compilation.

I’ve already discussed why I consider the PS2 one of the best “old” machines for these kind of games and I know I share this point of view with many developers, since the second Sony console housed some of the best retro compliations of its time. Month after month, after a lot of researches I’ve been able to hunt them down (not all of them but at least some) so this post is an homage to them.

The first one (but the last entry in my collection) is SNK Arcade Classics Vol.1, released in 2008. This is a collection of arcade games released in the first half of the Nineties (from 1990 Magician Lord till 1997 Shock Troopers) and almost all of them belong to the fighting genre. This is the list of titles:

  • Art of Fighting (1992)
  • Baseball Stars 2 (1992)
  • Burning Fight (1991)
  • Fatal Fury: King of Fighters (1991)
  • King of the Monsters (1991)
  • Last Resort (1992)
  • Magician Lord (1990)
  • Metal Slug (1996)
  • Neo Turf Masters (1996)
  • Samurai Shodown (1993)
  • Sengoku (1991)
  • Shock Troopers (1997)
  • Super Sidekicks 3: The Next Glory (1995)
  • The King of Fighters ’94 (1994)
  • Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy (1994)
  • World Heroes (1992)

Fighting games usually are not my business but since I have a gf who cut her teeth on PS1 and PS2 on such games when she played with her (male) relatives, I think I’m going to play some of them and try not to be kicked in the ass too much (I’ve been kicked enough with Dead or Alive 3 on Xbox…). Some of the titles featured in the compilation have now a cult following even because they were released for the expensive Neo Geo consoles and they’re diffucult and pricey to find today (even considering that even the price of  a Neo Geo can set you back): we’re talking about the original Art of Fighting, the first Metal Slug and King of Fighters ’94. The black sheep in the lot is probably Neo Turf Masters, not because it’s a bad game but because it’s a golf game. Curiously enough this is the only game of the lot I’ve played on the real hardware, since there was a coin-op machine in the bar I used to attend with my friends something like 15-20 years ago (yes, by that time the game was already a bit old, but what do you expect from a bar in a 3000 people village?).

The second compilation is Taito Legends (again, another rambling of mine). This is actually a duo of compilations, released in 2005 and based on the japanese counterpart, Taito Memories, which is an authentic bible of Taito games: five different compilations released between 2005 and 2007 including a total of 116 games, a sheer amount of gems, some unreleased in the West, that will make every arcade game lover drool (aside from the fact that they are just porting of arcade games, but you can’t have it all…). Anyway, for us western gamers Taito shrunk the list to an always good number of 68 games, 29 in the first and 39 in the second compilation and even in this “light” version there’s surely a lot to play. Of course Space Invaders couldn’t be left out and there are actually 4 versions of the game: the original from 1978, Space Invaders II, Super Space Invaders ’91, Space Invaders ’95 and Space Invaders DX. The list of pure gems continues with  Elevator Action, Bubble Bobble, Operation Wolf, Rainbow Islands, Qix, Lunar Rescue, The Legend of Kage, Puzzle Bobble 2 and G-Darius.

For completeness here’s the games list; Taito Legends 1:

  • Battle Shark (1989)
  • Bubble Bobble (1986)
  • Colony 7 (1981)
  • Continental Circus (1987)
  • The Electric Yo-Yo (1982)
  • Elevator Action (1983)
  • Exzisus (1987)
  • Gladiator (1986)
  • Great Swordsman (1984)
  • Jungle Hunt (1982)
  • The New Zealand Story (1988)
  • The Ninja Kids (1990)
  • Operation Thunderbolt (1988)
  • Operation Wolf (1987)
  • Phoenix (1980)
  • Plotting (1989)
  • Plump Pop (1987)
  • Rainbow Islands (1987)
  • Rastan (1987)
  • Return of the Invaders (1985)
  • Space Gun (1990)
  • Space Invaders (1978)
  • Space Invaders Part 2 (1979)
  • Super Qix (1987)
  • ThunderFox (1990)
  • Tokio (1986)
  • Tube It (1993)
  • Volfied (1993)
  • Zoo Keeper (1982)

…and Taito Legends 2:

  • Lunar Rescue (1979)
  • Balloon Bomber (1980)
  • Crazy Balloon (1980)
  • Qix (1981)
  • Alpine Ski (1982)
  • Front Line (1982)
  • Wild Western (1982)
  • Chack’n Pop (1983)
  • The Legend of Kage (1984)
  • The Fairyland Story (1985)
  • KiKi KaiKai (1986)
  • Bonze Adventure (1988)
  • Kuri Kinton (1988)
  • Nastar Warrior (1988)
  • Raimais (1988)
  • Syvalion (1988)
  • Cameltry (1989)
  • Don Doko Don (1989)
  • Insector X (1989)
  • Violence Fight (1989)
  • Football Champ (1990)
  • Growl (1990)
  • Gun Frontier (1990)
  • Liquid Kids (1990)
  • Super Space Invaders ’91 (1990)
  • Metal Black (1991)
  • Arabian Magic (1992)
  • Grid Seeker: Project Storm Hammer (1992)
  • Darius Gaiden (1994)
  • Dungeon Magic (1994)
  • Space Invaders DX (1994)
  • Elevator Action Returns (1995)
  • Gekirindan (1995)
  • Puzzle Bobble 2 (1995)
  • Space Invaders ’95 (1995)
  • Cleopatra Fortune (1996)
  • RayStorm (1996)
  • G-Darius (1997)
  • Puchi Carat (1997)

There’s a compliation that is overlooked in my opinion and it’s Activision Anthology. Activision was and still is one of the biggest names in the industry, and the first third party company (as well as one of the responsible of 1983 crash). In the heyday of Atari 2600 Activision represented one of the best developers, for sure very careful about the importance of the graphics that was immediately recognizable among the dozens of cheap games of the period. Only 6 Activision games for the Atari 2600 have been left out probably because they do not retain the IP for them, but on the other hand the compilation also include games released by Imagic (3) and Absolute Entertainment (3). To be frank the version to own is the Windows one, the most complete of the versions released with all the Absolute Entertainmente games, all the Imagic games and even some homebrew titles. The full list of 48 games of the PS2 version below:

  • Atlantis
  • Barnstorming
  • Baseball
  • Beamrider
  • Boxing
  • Bridge
  • Checkers
  • Chopper Command
  • Commando
  • Cosmic Commuter
  • Crackpots
  • Decathlon
  • Demon Attack
  • Dolphin
  • Dragster
  • Enduro
  • Fishing Derby
  • Freeway
  • Frostbite
  • Grand Prix
  • H.E.R.O.
  • Ice Hockey
  • Kabobber
  • Kaboom!
  • Keystone Kapers
  • Laser Blast
  • Moonsweeper
  • Megamania
  • Oink!
  • Pitfall!
  • Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
  • Plaque Attack
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Private Eye
  • River Raid
  • River Raid II
  • Robot Tank
  • Seaquest
  • Skiing
  • Sky Jinks
  • Space Shuttle
  • Spider Fighter
  • Stampede
  • Starmaster
  • Tennis
  • Thwocker
  • Title Match Pro Wrestling
  • Tomcat F14

Another great compilation of retrogames is Intellivision Lives! a really heavy compendium of 70 games released for the loved Mattel console (and even some unreleased titles) divided by genre following the original colour-inspired categorization. I’ve recently found an original Intellivision that now sits proudly next to its third revisitation, the IntV III (the second iteration, the white console was made only for the american market and has compatibility issues in Europe). Of course the Intelliviusion titles look very 2600-like today but back then Mattel has been a real pain in the neck for Atari, because it featured superior color graphics and, most important, sound, some thing that today we take for granted but that in the 80s was a cutting edge feature  – Mattel developed the Voice Interface to play “talking” games like the famous B-17 Bomber of Bomb Squad. I’m lucky enough to have some CIB games featured in the compilation so I can make a real comparison between the original and the port: not considering the (obvious) different control method, the games are rather true to the originals both in graphics (of course just a bit more polished) and gameplay. Here’s the full list of games included:

  • Armor Battle
  • Battle Tanks
  • Biplanes
  • B-17 Bomber
  • Hover Force
  • Sea Battle
  • Sub Hunt
  • Thunder Castle
  • Tower of Doom
  • Utopia
  • Number Jumble
  • Space Cadet
  • Hypnotic Lights
  • Takeover
  • Magic Carousel
  • Astrosmash
  • Space Armada
  • Space Battle
  • Space Hawk
  • Space Spartans
  • Star Strike
  • Crosswords
  • Factor Fun
  • Frog Bog
  • Math Master
  • Memory Fun
  • Sharp Shot
  • Word Hunt
  • Word Rockets
  • Baseball
  • World Championship Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Slam Dunk: Super Pro Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Boxing
  • Football
  • Super Pro Football
  • Golf
  • Chip Shot: Super Pro Golf
  • Hockey
  • Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey
  • Auto Racing
  • Motocross
  • Stadium Mudbuggies
  • Skiing
  • Mountain Madness: Super Pro Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Super Pro Decathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Spiker: Super Pro Volleyball
  • Wrestling
  • Body Slam: Super Pro Wrestling
  • Bomb Squad
  • Buzz Bombers
  • Racing Cars
  • Night Stalker
  • Pinball
  • Shark! Shark!
  • Thin Ice
  • Vectron
  • Backgammon
  • Checkers
  • Horseracing
  • Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack
  • Reversi
  • Las Vegas Roulette
  • Royal Dealer

The last two compilations are more modern since they features games of the late 80s or early 90s. The first is Sega Classics Collection released in 2005, a small selection of nine Sega AGES games previously released only in Japan and brought to the West. Among all of the compilations, this is the one that tries to innovate more, losing a bit of the retro feel of the original games. While OutRun for example is surely an improved version of the original, it’s clear that this is a remake and the pixellated Sega original is way better. However, being Sega Ages a large group of revisited games one day or another I’d like to own, starting with Sega Classic Collection is not bad. The games represent the essence of Sega, with racing games (OutRun, Monaco GP, V.R Virtua Racing), puzzles (Columns), beat ’em ups (Golden Axe), etc, so all the best the company had to offer 30 or so years ago. Here’s the list of the games:

  • Monaco GP
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Space Harrier
  • Golden Axe
  • Puzzle & Action + Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • V.R. Virtua Racing
  • OutRun
  • Alien Syndrome

Last, but not least, is Sonic Mega Collection Plus that features the most important Sonic games released. Some of these games are quite easy and cheap to find, especially the first two Sonic and the compilation is intended as an extension of the original Game Cube release. Aside from the obvious Sonic classic trilogy, and the following games, the compilation also includes Ristar, a shameless Sonic clone and the old Sega game Flicky, a classic 2D platformer in which you control the eponymous blue bird.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3
  • Sonic & Knuckles
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Spinball
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Flicky
  • Ristar

So, in the end we have 7 different compilations for a total of 228 games (imagine collecting all of these games, maybe complete in box…): you could spend years before playing them all and they would be enough for an old games lover to be entertained without spending too much money. But we’re collectors, we’re crazy, we want all of them…

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