Perfect Conversion

Terrible retro compilations

Ah yes, the good old Retro compilation. The idea is simple, rummage through the back library and find a selection of classic games that are either popular or easy to port, stuff them onto a disk with a menu and voila. For buyers the allure is obvious; a chance to play favourite games of days past, a chance to experience the games that defined an era of video gaming or to finally play the obscure foreign exclusives.
The last few years saw a surge in popularity of the 'retro compilation', and while there were plenty of great compilations that did a great service to classic gaming, there have also been some questionable, frustrating and just plain bad compilations. While no one ever feels good about purchasing a bad game, shoddy retro compilations leave us feeling ripped off, confused and even betrayed, as our judgment is often clouded by rose tinted glasses. The following is my list of the worst retro compilations I have come across so far.

Taito Legends Power Up (psp): Taito Legends 1 and 2 for the playstation 2 are both quite respectable collections that show off the quality of Taito's library. How on earth the PSP incarnation turned out so stinky is quite puzzling. Instead of bringing the best from both libraries, Power Up seems to be the worst; Rastan and The New Zealand Story being the only real stand-outs, unless you really really like Space Invaders. A handful of games come in original and remake versions, but the less said about the remakes the better.

Namco Museum (Dreamcast): The Dreamcast's discs offered a full 1gb of storage, but somehow Namco felt it was only worth putting 6 games on it. Not bad games by any stretch of the imagination but nothing we hadn't already seen many times before (Pac-man AGAIN) and an incredible waste of the Dreamcast's power and disc capacity. This is especially shameful coming from Namco, who are not exactly strangers to the retro compilation; the Playstation Namco Museum games are far better than this sorry cash grab.

Midway Arcade Treasures 3(various): Midway's first 2 Arcade Treasures were great, but by the third they were either out of games or just got lazy. Unlike the first 2 which had a good selection of games, Midway Arcade Treasures 3 has only 8 games, all of which are racing (the theme of the collection). If you don't like San Fransisco Rush (it sucks) then that leaves the only 2 decent games on the disc as Hydro Thunder and Off-Road Thunder, neither of which are exactly 'memorable' and can both be found quite easily and cheap on the Dreamcast. Had they included the Cruisin' USA games (the only really recognisable midway racing franchise next to Rush) this might have got a pass.

Atari Flashback (TV plug in): Atari's TV plug in console is a little bit iffy right from the start. The controllers are small and feel cheap, there are only 20 games (which may sound like a lot but for 2600 games its not) and many of them are a bit crap. Basically the Atari Flashback is lacking in all areas, which is compounded by the fact that its not just a single disc but a rather messy plug in system. Thankfully the Atari Flashback 2 does a much better job; pick that up and leave this one in the bargain bin.

That about does it. With the rise of Xbox Live arcade, Wii Virtual Console, etc, as well as the fact that most mainstream publishers libraries have already been retro compiled in one way or another, we wont see many real retro compilation discs for the new generation. While it is nice being able to buy only the games you like, a good retro compilation can be hard to beat.

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--Shaz-- DESIGN 2006