The NeoGeo lives on in SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1. This new collection for the Nintendo Wii features 16 classic arcade games of uneven quality for an affordable price. If you spent any amount of time in arcades as a kid or a teen, this game will take you back. However, you might find that not all of your memories are good ones.
Even though the title says this is a collection of classics, some of these games are actually just old. Metal Slug is awesome, and Last Resort (a 2D side-scrolling space shooter) is pretty good, too. But these games won't take you very long to beat, considering that both are set to unlimited continues, and Metal Slug is already available elsewhere. The classic fighting games, including Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, King of Fighters '94, and Samurai Shodown, are also reasonable inclusions, even though the GameCube controller isn't suited to fighting games and the remote is outright allergic to them. If you want SNK Arcade Classics for the above fighting games, the classic controller is your best bet if the PlayStation 2 version isn't an option.
The rest of the offerings aren't nearly as much fun to play at home as they were in the arcades. Top Hunter, Super Sidekicks 3, King of the Monsters, Shock Troopers, Sengoku, Neo Turf Masters, Magician Lord, Burning Fight, and Baseball Stars 2 are generally not worth playing. Neo Turf Masters, Super Sidekicks 3, and Baseball Stars 2 are the easiest and most accessible games of the bunch; you could burn a pleasant hour and a half of your time between those three. The rest are entertaining only for the moments when you can tell that they are positively and intentionally killing you for your quarters. They contain regular and rhythmic moments of unavoidable death: Enemies close in from the top and bottom of the screen, and then they all shoot you at once. It is interesting to see the guts of the arcade coin-sucking machine laid so bare, but not much fun. If anything, it's anesthetic; you feel numb.
Burning Fight is exceptional for two reasons: It unabashedly rips off Final Fight, and it pits you against absurd obstacles. For instance, at one point you have to fight a guy who is standing in the bed of a pick-up truck, throwing molotov cocktails at you. You must punch the grill of the truck, until it explodes. It's funny, but not real fun. Shock Troopers and Top Hunter share some of the same style as Metal Slug, but neither one is nearly as good. Sengoku is the worst of all the games; it looks terrible and isn't any fun to play. Finally, King of the Monsters is a bad wrestling game, made worse by the fact that the monsters have to pin one another for a three count to win. Who is doing the counting?
Whichever game you decide to play, SNK Arcade Classics lets you use the Wii Remote, GameCube controller, or classic controller. Furthermore, there is a whole long list of achievements that you can accomplish within the games, which in turn unlock art, videos, World Heroes, and finally, move lists for all of the fighting games. Locking the moves lists is definitely an annoying choice on SNK's part, especially if you're getting the collection only for the fighting games.
The presentation is fine; the games all look and sound as good as they ever did. The only thing to nitpick is the fact that, when you're flipping through games in the main menu, you can see only one at a time. It would be better if you had an actual list to look at and move through.
So there you have it. SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 is a collection of NeoGeo arcade games. A couple of them are still good, a few others are all right, and the rest are pretty bad. If you aren't sure whether or not this trip down memory lane is worth your money, it probably isn't. But if you think a few bucks are worth a bunch of rounds with Final Fight, Samurai Shodown, and Metal Slug, then you will get your money's worth. Stale popcorn and blueberry Icees not included.