During the 80’s, from Konami, Capcom and Namco alike, there were a plethora of arcade classics.  Some more memorable than others, but some seemingly forgotten classics included in this collection might just re-jog your memory.  Konami’s Arcade Classic’s Anniversary Collection features eight titles from 1981 to 1988 and while some don’t perhaps hold-up all that well today, there are one or two very enjoyable inclusions in this classics collection.

In my humble opinion, as logic might suggest, the earlier the title, the less it perhaps holds up.  So as you edge towards the later 80’s, the quality gradually improves in this collection.  Starting with 1981’s Scrabble, this is a low pixelated, side-scrolling shooter, a genre that very much dominates this collection, for better or worse.  Considering Scrabble was released in 1981, it surprisingly still plays quite well, which is a testament to this true old-school classic.  But in saying that, it’s certainly not the best game in this collection either.

TwinBee which released in 1985 is a vertical shooter and for me, is one of the weaker titles in this collection.  Visually, it’s nice and colourful, but in terms of gameplay, it’s one of the clunkiest of the eight arcade games.  Oddly the two Gradius titles in this collection have their alternative names.  I know games have different names in different regions for any number of reasons, but the name Gradius seems more well known then Nemesis (1985) and Vulcan Venture (1988).  However, both Nemesis (Gradius) and Vulcan Venture (Gradius II) hold up reasonably well as side-scrolling shooters, with Gradius II being the better of the two, with the slightly more superior gameplay, visuals and audio.

Life Force (1986) aka Salamander which is a multi-scrolling shooter from various perspectives, is very similar to that of Gradius.  With the scrolling shooter genre dominating this collection, perhaps a beat ‘em up would have been great to mix things up, either in the place of Life Force or one of the Gradius games.  I know the great TMNT arcade game from 1989 probably couldn’t make it due to licensing, but maybe Crime Fighters, also from 1989 would have been  worthy addition.

The remaining three titles are perhaps the best included in the Konami Arcade ClassicsHaunted House (1988) is a very challenging, arcade spin-off of the beloved Castlevania series and stars Simon Belmont in the hunt of Count Dracula after he abducted his newlywed wife, a very typical 80’s arcade storyline.  The best way I could describe Haunted House, is that it’s kind of like a cross between Castlevania and Altered Beast, but is still perhaps less superior then many of the console versions of Castlevania.

Typhoon (1987) also known as A-Jax is easily one of my favourite games in the collection.  Typhoon is a hybrid of two shooter genres, one being a fighter pilot akin to the likes of another Sega classic, After Burner, and then after beating a level, the game will switch to a vertical shooter, being in control of an apache helicopter.  It’s quite cool to effectively have two genre shooters in one game and it’s even better when both would stand-up alone as decent shooters in their own right.  Finally we have Thunder Cross (1988), which is a game that I remember quite well.  Yes it’s another side-scrolling shooter in this collection, but out of all the ones included in this collection, Thunder Cross has the most refined gameplay, it looks the best and it sounds quite nifty too.

One final addition to the Konami Arcade Classics is the eBook which is included as a bonus.  This includes all the information you could ever want on all eight games featured, complete with the design process, concept art and general thoughts from the developers.  If you can get this in physical hardback form, it would make for a great coffee table book.  Please correct me if I am wrong, but if a code of some sort was made available from this collection, so that you could download this eBook on to a tablet, it would make for a great read to sit back and chill out too.

All in all, this collection may be a little to dominated with the side-scrolling shooter, but that’s not to say that it’s not a great trip down memory lane.  Sure I don’t remember all these games included in this collection, but it’s great either re-visiting or visiting a new, if only we had a beat em’ up thrown in to replace one of the shooters.  That said, for a launch price of £15.99/$19.99, this collection offers great value for new and veteran fans alike and if you want a taste of what arcade gaming was like in the 1980’s, then the Konami Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection is a great place to start.


Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake