Every Christmas for at least the past decade, my brother Jeff and I have traded retro game collections for Christmas. It started in 1998 when I discovered MAME and Dave’s Video Game Classics. I collected a CD of ROMS and Emulators, printed a fancy CD label, and gifted it to Jeff as “The History Of Video Games”. It felt a bit dirty, but there was nothing else available so it seemed OK at the time. Jeff responded the next year by turning legit, and finding me CD copy of Stella Get’s New Brain, A CD collection of Starpath Supercharger games that work with 2600 emulators, while I found him a copy of Activision Classics for the Playstation. After that, we were hooked on legit compilations. For the next couple years we bought each other stuff like Atari Anniversary, Intellivision Classics and Konami Arcade Classics for the Playstation, and a few of the remade classics like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pong, Missile Command and Breakout.
When we both moved up to the PS2 in 2002, this practice continued unabated, and in fact, intensified. While the PS1 was capable of emulating old games, they played a bit on the sluggish side. The PS2 could do the job with no problems. That year, we bought each other Namco Museum and Activision Anthology, and thoroughly devoured them. For the first time in many years I could play faithful versions Galaga, River Raid and Demon Attack (some Imagic games were included with the Activision package). 2003 brought Midway Arcade Treasures, a title that started trend of companies shoveling 20+ games in one package (as opposed to the stingy 5-10 games on Namco collections). 2004 was another banner year with Atari Anthology (80+ games!), Sonic Mega Collection+, and Midway Arcade Treasures 2 released for the PS2. 2005 was probably the best “classics compilation” year on record as it saw the release of phenomenal Capcom Classics Collection Vol 1. and Taito Legends. Both were collections of numerous games that had ever been released in the emulated home format. 2006 was another great year, as we bought each other Capcom Classics Collection Vol.2 and Sega Genesis Collection.
After nearly a decade of great retro compilations, I fully expected that Jeff and I would exchange some retro gaming goodness this coming Christmas 2007. However, as far as the PS2 is concerned, it looks like the tidal wave of great compilations is over. Taito Legends 2 was released back in July, but we have both since picked it up. While it seems that Taito and Midway may have exhausted their back catalogs, other companies seem to have forgotten about us retro-gamers. 2007 will see no Capcom Classics Vol. 3 or Sega Genesis Collection Vol. 2 even though there seems to be a wealth of untapped material that could be utilized. As well, Konami never released a definitive compilation for the PS2, even though it seems that they have many more than 10 or so games they keep recycling on the GBA and DS. Furthermore, where are collections from M.I.A. companies like Tecmo (Rygar, Silkworm, etc.) (And No, your XBOX only title does not count) , Exidy (Bristles, Crossbox, Venture, Targ, Mouse Trap, etc.) , Centuri (Phoenix, Vanguard, Tunnel Hunt), Gremlin (Moon Cresta), Tehkan (Swimmer, Bombjack, etc.), Rock-Ola (Nibbler, Eyes), Stern (Berzerk, Frenzy, Armored Car etc.), Universal (Mr. Do, Ladybug, Space Panic, etc.), Cinematronics (Star Castle, Rip-Off, Armor Attack, etc.), or some of those licensed Bally/Midway games (Burgertime, Gorf, Blue Print, Wizard Of Wor, Tron, etc.), or a collection Nintendo’s actual coin-ops (not the NES versions)?
With Microsoft offering retro games as part of Xbox Live, and Nintendo selling them at $5-$10 each for the Wii, it might seem like these collections are thing of the past. While Namco have a Wii version of their collection this season, it is notable only for what is *not* included, Galaga, which honestly, is one of the only reasons to own a Namco collection in the first place. Namco has tons of games to pull from, and one wonders why they remain mostly untapped.
Beyond Coin-ops, why haven’t we seen a good retro collections for the Atari 8-bit, Atari 5200, or Atari 7800 or any of the 16-bit computers (ST, Amiga). What about a Vectrex Collection? A 3DO Collection. Heck, even an Atari Jaguar and Sega 32X/Saturn collections would be interesting at this point. I suppose my real question is this: in the era of downloadable content, are these type of pleasingly massive retro collections a thing of the past? I hope not, or Jeff and I are going to have to quickly find something else to give each other for Christmas this year. Hey Jeff, how about one of these?