Monday 29 March 2021

Blizzard Arcade Collection Review (Switch)

Back in the days of the 16-bit era Blizzard created a trio of very different games which went on to be much beloved. These three iconic titles have now returned with a ton of new content to try and prove they are worth more than a nostalgia fuelled ten minute visit. To this end, not only have two console versions of each game been included but also a remixed ‘enhanced’ version which has new features. 

The first of the three games is puzzle platformer The Lost Vikings. The SNES and Mega Drive versions of the game are here with the Mega Drive one having more levels. The enhanced version of the game mixes the two versions together to give you the best graphics and sound and also includes all the levels and a three player option. There’s also a save function which helps, though strangely the screen display settings and other options are restricted to the console versions only. 

The game itself has you controlling three different characters who each have unique abilities and you need to keep them all alive in order to progress through the stages. One of the Vikings can jump and knock down walls by running into them, another has a shield which can block attacks, be used as a platform or to glide across gaps. The final Viking has a bow for shooting enemies and switches. 

The pace is a little slow but the game holds up well no matter what version you are playing. It requires a considered and careful approach and the latter stages are incredibly tricky. However, it is a fun and rewarding game for those that stick with it and well worth checking out. 

The most obscure of the games is Blackthorne. Originally releasing on the Super Nintendo, it follows the same sort of style as Another World and Flashback. Blackthorne, is much grittier though and has players trying to free a world from subjugation by an evil overlord. It is perhaps most famous for the ability to shoot behind you with your shotgun which both looks cool and is extremely useful. 

The Super Nintendo and 32X versions of the game are available and perhaps provide the biggest difference between versions on the collection. The 32X version looks and handles drastically differently to the 16 bit version with the 32 bit visuals moving to a more polygon style. The definitive version takes it’s ques from the original though and is much the same apart from a map being added to aid exploration. 

The game requires some patience to get used to the controls but is still fun and compelling with a brooding atmosphere and lore that is far superior to many of the games of the time. It can be frustrating but remains well worth persevering with and it’s far cheaper to pick this version up than original console versions. 

The highlight of the collection for many will be Rock N’ Roll Racing. Again, we get the original SNES version and the later released Mega Drive game which has more tracks but doesn’t look or sound as good. The definitive version has had the most significant work done on it. There are more tracks, environmental effects have been added and amazingly the rock music soundtrack has been changed to include the original songs rather than chip tune representations. Unfortunately, we have lost Paranoid from the soundtrack but new tracks such as ‘Breaking the Law’ have been added. A four player version is also included. 

The game has you racing around a host of crazy planets against three other racers trying to win as much money as possible to upgrade your vehicle and make it to the next season. Its great fun and you can move from first to last in the blink of an eye as you get buffeted and blasted around the track. There’s also a host of cars such as tracked vehicles and hydrofoils to buy and upgrades to improve everything from ammunition to suspension. All this comes with commentary and some of the greatest rock tunes of all time blasting out which turns it into the embodiment of pure joy. 

The one downside to the definitive version of the game is that for some reason you are unable to save your progress. There are passwords but these don’t record all your information and will see you set back to the start of a race season when used. It’s a baffling oversight and one we can only assume will be patched at some point. You are also restricted again with regards to display settings and other features. 

Overall, it’s clear a lot of attention and care has been taken when bringing these games to a new audience. That said there are some weird quirks in here that take some of the shine off such as not being able to use screens settings and other options in the definitive versions. Not being able to save during Rock N’ Roll racing is also something that can’t be overlooked. That said, if you are a fan of any of these games this provides an excellent way of playing them for a reasonable price. It’s a must of retro game fans, though others may struggle to see the magic in the same way. 

Overall 8/10

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