All Together Then: Konami's Anniversary Trio

Three new retro compilations are coming to all formats from Konami.

A break from format this time, as I endeavour to take a look at the three Konami compilations that have just been formally announced (following my speculation) - Castlevania Anniversary Collection, Contra Anniversary Collection and Anniversary Collection Arcade Classics - eight games apiece, with only the Arcade Classics set having had its line-up fully revealed.

Thankfully, it's pretty good; they seem to be prioritising interesting games over slavish adherence to "historically significant" offerings. Oddly, the Arcade Classics compilation seems to be a collection of seven enjoyable shmups and the derisory addition of Haunted Castle, a truly terrible coin-op take on Castlevania. In my view it's totally out of place on the compilation - there's a Castlevania one right there - but this set has Gradius II on it, so the other seven games could be identical copies of Primal Rage and it would still be worth the money.

For posterity, the collection contains: Haunted Castle, Typhoon, Gradius, Gradius II, Life Force, Thunder Cross, Scramble and Twinbee.

Gradius II is my favourite shmup of all time.

Contra Anniversary Collection is, so far, a bit of an odd duck. Four games are yet to be revealed, but the four already shown don't include the iconic NES Contra among them. So far it boasts arcade titles Contra and Super Contra, NES sequel Super C and SNES classic Contra III: The Alien Wars. Now, in my experience, arcade Contra is fiercely inferior to the NES port - which is also the version I'd contend that most gamers are familiar with and fond of. I'd be surprised if they added it to the final four, but stranger things have happened. Personally, if they're not going to be doing that, I'd like to see the collection wrapped up with Contra Hard Corps (Genesis), Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2), Hard Corps Uprising (PS3/360) and Contra Rebirth (WiiWare). I wouldn't be surprised if I'm on the money with this call. If I turn out to be correct, start calling me Nos-Stu-damus (Absolutely not. - Everybody).

Super C is the standout of the revealed Contra Anniversary Collection games.

Lastly, and most excitingly, we have the afore-discussed Castlevania Anniversary Collection. Another with four games still slated for their big reveal, thus far we have Castlevania (NES), Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse(NES), Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge (Game Boy) and Super Castlevania IV (SNES). I speculated Castlevania: Bloodlines and Castlevania the Adventure Rebirth as potential inclusions, and I stand by them. In addition, I expect us to get Castlevania Chronicles (or simply the Sharp x68000 Akumajou Dracula it’s a port of) and the SNES version of Dracula X. I anticipate that none of the later “Metroidvanias” will be on this set – the exclusion of Simon’s Quest, their progenitor, suggests it’s being saved (along with the others) for a later, more extensive collection, possibly including the GBA or DS games.

Belmont's Revenge getting in over Simon's Quest suggests a welcome focus on quality rather than history.

At any rate, I’m excited about these announcements. They’re hitting all the major formats, so I can take Vic Viper on the go via my Switch. Hamster (of Arcade Archives) fame are the developers here, which suggests they’ll be solid versions. The series launches on your chosen system’s digital storefront with Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection on April 18th.