Wednesday 13 December 2023

Irem Collection Volume 1 Review (Switch)

Irem have been one of the most notable companies to not fully exploit its back catalogue yet when it comes to retro collections and the exploitation of its classic franchises. The approach they have now taken is to release a selection of small volumes starting with this three-game collection of shoot’em ups. Here you get Image fight 1 and 2 and X Multiply, perhaps not the most well-known games from the company’s history but all of them are well worth playing. The big question is if these three games are worth the pricey sum of £19.99 when you compare them to other collections available.

One thing in the collections favour is that multiple versions of each game (Where available), are included. X Multiply has both the ‘World’ and Japanese arcade variants and Image Fight has all the Arcade, NES, Famicom and PC Engine versions available. The PC Engine CD version of Image Fight 2 rounds out the package. This means that while the package may seem a bit mean in terms of content and price it also means that it is far cheaper than trying to track down the original versions of the game to play on the original hardware.

In terms of options, they are deceptively extensive. You get multiple difficulty settings and the usual ability to create save states. There’s also a host of things to do in the arcade games such as calibrating how the sticks feel and various video options. There is also a section where you can enable cheats as well, so you are well served no matter how you want to play the games.

Image Fight is the most well-known game here and one that was an early pioneer in the world of the vertically scrolling shooter. It’s also crushingly difficult. It’s a game you’ll really need to memorise in order to make it through with the smallest of mistakes often leading to death. It’s a good thing those cheats are there for the more casual player. Of course, when you die you are stripped of your well-earned power ups as well which makes things even harder. T

he powerup system itself is complex with a mixture of pods that can be launched briefly before returning, and force like add-ons which bolt on to provide secondary weapons. Just make sure to pick the right ones or you will die. Often.

Just when you thought Image Fight was hard the sequel comes along and is perhaps even more difficult. Bigger bosses and more intense action coupled with players needing to build their powerups back up at the start of each stage mean this is really one for the hardcore gamers out there.

X Multiply is a horizontal scrolling shooter that initially recalls R Type. It is, perhaps, even more organically grotesque in its design. The concept is that you are making your way through a human body and need to rid it from a microscopic alien invasion. It’s a lot faster and more action intense than R Type for sure and a game that many have likely not encountered before so it’s great to see it get a spotlight here.

Overall, it’s difficult to judge where the first Irem Volume lands. The three games here are great and the emulation is rock solid. But there’s a lack of general finesse in terms of the presentation and the asking price for a collection of three games is steep. When you consider Irem has more volumes already lined up it’s obvious there could have been something put out that would have appealed to a much wider audience. In the end it’ll come down to just how much you want to play three great shoot’em ups.

Overall 7/10

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