All Together Then: The Best Compilations of the Decade
An embarrassment of retro riches
It's been a bit of a gala decade for retro compilations, hasn't it? Well, maybe a gala half-decade. It seems time enough to take a squint back at the last ten bastard years of retrogaming and see what funderful delights have been offered to us by those benevolent game companies who hoover our money up like it's all just filthy, filthy cobwebs.
All Together Then! It's the best retro compilations of the last ten years! All of which were released in the last, er, two or three. Um. Sorry.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
This whole list could easily be Digital Eclipse's sterling efforts. From Mega Man to SNK to Street Fighter, they've done retro very proud by giving the games of the past the Smithsonian treatment, with plenty of beautifully high-res artwork and production info as well as copious modern quality-of-life features to make the gaming experience optionally more palatable for contemporary gamers. I've given the nod here to the superb Disney Afternoon Collection simply because it's something that seemed like such a pipe dream before. Both Duck Tales games, both Rescue Rangers games, the terrific Mega Man-alike Darkwing Duck tie-in and Talespin, too, because surely someone likes it! Add that to the aforementioned suite of extras and you're looking at a compilation to be reckoned with.
Super Nintendo Classic Mini
Seriously - are there any bad games on this thing? The NES Classic Mini was great, yes, but it was - say it in a small voice - largely a nostalgic blast above all else, with only a handful of the included games passing muster for any extended playtime. Its bigger brother, though, the SNES Classic Mini? Blinder after blinder. I've seen criticisms of Secret of Mana before, and we can bicker until the cows come home over games that may have been omitted from the machine (where's Chrono Trigger?), but overall it's a stunningly rich, genre-diverse and brilliantly fun package that it would be churlish to pick nits over. Of course, if it really sticks in your craw, you can always hack it and stick any old SNES game you want on the damn thing
Castlevania/Contra Anniversary Collection
Points for effort. After shonky initial releases, Konami and M2 managed to make these collections pretty much essential by patching in the Japanese variations of the included games a month or so after release. Grouping these together may seem a little cheeky, but I couldn't decide between the two. The Contra collection is about as good a set as one could reasonably hope for, only really excising the likes of Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra as far as actually worthwhile games are concerned. The 'Vania collection is even better, with the NES trilogy represented as well as the magnificent Super Castlevania IV and Bloodlines. Bonus content? There are slightly-unwieldy "Bonus Books" included with each comp, and the Castlevania set throws in the NES version of Kid Dracula, translated into English for the first time. Not bad!
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
Is this cheating? Is it cheating to pick this when it's not really a retro compilation at all? I mean, it is a bit. It's three games. Old games. But they're completely remade from the ground up, while stil retaining the original feel. And they're bloody brilliant, especially the original Spyro the Dragon. Later games in the series muddied the purity of the original by adding copious mini-games and collectables, but they have their fans and they're certainly not bad by any reasonable metric. Me, though? I'm here for Spyro 1, in a loving, faithful remake that looks like I imagined it looked when I was a kid. It's an un-fussy, downright therapeutic explore-'em-up and everyone should play it and agree with me because I am very tall. Thanks. Bye.