Monday 18 December 2023

Visco Collection Review (Switch)

Retro collections are becoming more and more common on the Switch and it has now reached the point that more niche and obscure titles are getting their chance to shine. Pixelheart have previously acquired the license for a host of Visco products and have published sequels to a few of them such as Andro Dunos 2 and Ganryu 2 (which we have previously covered). This though is the first time they have selected original Neo-Geo titles and bundled them together.

There are seven games in total, and they range across genres. You get the original Andro Dunos and Ganryu games, Windjammers inspired Flipshot and its sequel Bang Bead, a vertical shooter called Captain Tomaday, Goal!, Goal! Goal! and rally game Neo Drift Out. It’s a varied bunch of somewhat lesser known and obscure Neo Geo titles. If we are honest, it’s also a little on the light side and a few more games to round out the package would have really pushed this to the next level. But what’s here shouldn’t be overlooked.

Neo Drift Out in particular is very welcome as it's the very rare, third game in the Drift Out franchise and means something that is going to cost you a small fortune is now easily available. It plays much the same as the others in that it’s a very arcade take on rally driving. The goal is to complete a course under a certain time limit and then move onto the next. It’s viewed from an isometric perspective and there are of course plenty of hazards and short cuts along the way to learn. It’s pretty difficult but also great fun and certainly one of the high points here.

More forgettable are Goal! Goal! Goal! and Captain Tomaday. There are a whole host of football games on the Neo-Geo and while Goal! Goal! Goal! Is good, arcade, fun in small bursts it doesn’t really do anything to stand out from the crowd. Captain Tomaday, certainly has the quirky element going for it as you are in control of a flying tomato taking on an evil eggplant who wants to take over the world. Its closet comparison would be something like Galaga as you scroll up then stop at arenas that fill with enemies. There’s a host power ups and some fun scoring mechanics but we struggled to stay with the game for too long.  

Flipshot and it’s follow up, Bang Bead, are two games based heavily around the Windjammers model. You must hit a ball back and forth to each other with the aim of breaking the wall behind your opponent. Precision deflections add power to the shots and once your opponents wall is down you can score. There’s a host of different characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s decent fun in small bursts. The games also have online play which helps their longevity massively. Bang Bead being super rare is yet another reason to be glad this collection exists as well as only a handful of physical copies are out there.

The two most high-profile games on the collection have already been mined for sequels. The first Andro Dunos is a great little game, even if it lacks some of the visual flair of other Neo-Geo shooters. It’s a horizontally scrolling shoot’em up where you start with all available weapons and power them up continually by collecting pods. Knowing what to use and when, along with the chargeable super attacks is the backbone of the title. It’s fast and clean looking and should keep you occupied for a fair while.

Ganryu, is the other high-profile game here and it’s quite different from its sequel. A ninja platformer sitting somewhere between Revenge of Shinobi and Legend of Kage it looks great, fusing a sort of feudal Japan setting with neo-industrial overtures. Its biggest problem is that it’s quite stiff to control and while players can leap around, throw out grappling hooks and use a host of weapons, you can’t dash which makes movement and avoiding certain attacks unnaturally difficult. It’s still fun, but you’ll be wishing it just controlled as good as it looked much of the time.

Overall, the Visco Collection does an excellent job of bringing some of the more obscure Neo-Geo titles to players attentions. The work that has gone into making pretty much all of them available to play online should also be applauded as it was always going to be somewhat of a niche release. It’s not perfect and it could do with a few more games but we are certainly glad it exists and it gives players a way of accessing some quite rare titles for very little money. We would be happy to see more of this in the future for sure.

Overall 7/10

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