Sunday, 30 January 2011

Spectrum Compilations: - Korrupted Memory: Imagine's Konami Arcade Collection

Looking back at these compilations has revealed that some fond memories are best left at that. When I spotted the Imagine compilation Konami Arcade Collection on EBay and eagerly snapped it up, I remember thinking that was a great compilation and that I spent a lot of time playing its contents when it was first released.
Unlike the similarly themed Taito Coin op Hits, however, this one doesn't quite deserve those rose-tinted spectacles...

Shao-Lin's Road
I loved the arcade machine but avoided the Spectrum version first time round thanks to a mediocre review in Crash (think it was 68% from memory). It's a multi platform beat 'em up and is actually really good and I can't quite understand why it didn't get a better score - maybe it just got lost amongst the Kung-fu games doing the rounds then. The controls are responsive and the action frantic.
Hit/Miss: HIT

Jail Break
Things soon take a turn for the worse on this comp. Again, I greatly enjoyed the original, an entertaining twist on the common space shooter genre of the time. The Spectrum version, by Andrew Glaister was particularly poor on several levels chiefly the collision detection was awful and the main character, who moved far too sluggishly. It's a shame because the graphics were ok, leaving me to churlishly suppose what legendary programmer Joffa Smith would have done with this conversion...
Hit/Miss: MISS

Green Beret
I'm not going to go on about Bert again but suffice to say at this point his constant appearance on compilations was starting to prove a bit tiresome. Still a hit though!
Hit/Miss: HIT

Yie Ar Kung Fu
Another compilation staple, YAKFu (as I like to call it) saw you playing a character called Oolong, charged with defeating various baddies in one-on-one battles. It has its detractors, but I loved it, finding the variation of enemies entertaining, even though it lacked the complexity of, say, Way of the Exploding Fist - or WOTEF as I liked to call it....
Hit/Miss: HIT

Yie Ar Kung Fu II
Its sequel, however, was rubbish.
Hit/Miss: MISS

Ping Pong
Another great game, but one I'd played to death already thanks to another compilation. The key element with Ping Pong was changing the arcade gameplay - the bat now tracked the ball automatically. Great fun, if a little limited.
Hit/Miss: HIT

Joffa Smiff returns, in what many consider to be the finest multi-event sports game on the Speccy. It's certainly one of the best arcade conversions with a nice varied balance of events from timing and skill events such as Archery and Skeet Shooting, to keyboard mashers like
Weight Lifting and swimming.
Hit/Miss: HIT

Now I know I said I liked some of the other arcade games, but Nemesis I LOVED. This was my shooter of choice in the arcades and I wince when I recall how many 10p pieces I must have stuffed feverishly into its coin slot. As a result I bought the Spectrum version before reading the Crash review, a mistake I never made again. Programmed, like Jail Break, by Konami themselves, you'd have thought they'd prepare a loving conversion. Instead we get a bastardized version with only one extra weapon available at a time, smaller levels and that old favourite flaw, awful collision detection. The game moves at a sluggish pace as well, meaning Nemesis was a huge disappointment to me.
Hit/Miss: MISS

Another marmite game, Mikie was a Crash Smash and despite an in-built natural resistance to its charms (I wanted to shoot aliens, not collect hearts!) I found it a playable and entertaining conversion.
Hit/Miss: HIT

I never played the arcade game, but its pitch was clearly "Commando-in-a-jeep". The Spectrum version bears very little similarity to the arcade original in every major respect: the graphics, the
gameplay, the sound and the level design are all different, and worse, making this one of the poorest Speccy arcade conversions.
Hit/Miss: MISS

Hits: 6
Misses: 4

So, on the surface of it not bad value, but the real truth is somewhat hidden by the above statistic. If you take the hits, many of them - Hypersports, Mikie, Ping Pong, Green Bert and Yie Ar Kung Fu had been around for some time and already appeared on Imagine's previous Konami compilation, Konami's Coin op Hits. The newer games were all released on Konami's own label, and ironically this was when the quality disappeared down into the basement. We can only imagine wistfully what the talents of our dearly departed Joffa would have done with Nemesis, Jail Break and Jackal.


  1. I was always intrigued by this one but I never got it. Yie Ar Kung Fu rules though :P

  2. Woo i remember this one and still have it stacked away somewhere (c64 version though). Must dig it out now that you've reminded me.



  3. knock yourself out mate, not literally please :-)