Konami Classic Series Arcade Hits Hands-On

We check out Konami's feature-rich classics compilation on the DS and discover new heights of nerdiness.

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Konami Classic Series Arcade Hits is a classics compilation from the Japanese developer that bundles together 15 of its old hits on the DS. However, rather than serving up a quick-and-dirty dump of Konami's greatest hits, the collection features a meaty array of extras and customization options that make the retro compilation a cut above your standard greatest-hits package. We had a chance to check out a work-in-progress version of the compilation at Konami's recent press event and were mightily pleased by the heights of anal-retentive detail it scaled.

The compilation will contain Contra, Gradius, Time Pilot, Scramble, Rush'N Attack, Horror Maze, Pooyan, Roc'N Rope, Track & Field, Circus Charlie, Basketball, Road Fighter, Yie Ar Kung Fu, Rainbow Bell, and Shao-lin's Road. Purists may notice that some of the titles have been altered from the arcade titles, namely Basketball, which loses its "Super" prefix; Rainbow Bell, which is the game formerly known as Twin Bee; and Horror Maze, which originally scared the masses as Tutankham. Shao-lin's Road is the one oddball of the bunch because it was also known as Kicker in some circles. Though the names have changed, the content is old-school arcade action.

Besides the original games, the compilation features a host of extras to enhance the experience, as well as a chunk of trivia, in some cases going so far as to include images of the arcade boards. You'll find simple and maniac menu options to navigate the wealth of extra content. Simple mode lets you pop in and out of a basic selection of options. Maniac is a supremely awesome mode that lets you toggle screen size and orientation, and, in some cases, it lets you interact with a static image of the original arcade board. The arcade board feature lets you toggle dipswitches to adjust settings like the arcade operators of old did.

Arcade Hits will also support several Wi-Fi features, including multiplayer, game sharing, replay sharing, and a dual DS mode. The multiplayer in the game will come in two flavors, depending on the title. For titles that originally supported two-player co-op, the game will let you play with a friend via Wi-Fi. For titles that supported turn-based co-op, you'll just have to wait your turn over Wi-Fi. The game-sharing function will let you share a full game with a friend, allowing you to engage in multiplayer sessions with just one copy of the game. The replay sharing is tied to the replay feature, which will let you save and send replays of your runs through any of the games with a friend. To keep you from feeling too good about yourself when rubbing a friend's face in your latest display of mad skills, the game comes with one replay of a near superhuman run-through for each game. The dual DS mode is a bit of a puzzler because it lets you display your game on one DS and control it from another.

Besides the gameplay content, the compilation has a jukebox feature that will let you listen to the audio and music in each game. A neat perk of the feature is that when you set the jukebox to loop or random, you'll be able to plug in your headphones and listen to tunes after you close the DS lid.

The visuals in the compilation are nicely done, albeit a little on the tiny side. The games appear to be faithful re-creations of their old-school predecessors. The audio follows suit and offers simple sounds and effects to match the onscreen action.

From what we saw, Konami Classic Series Arcade Hits is shaping up to be a tasty retro package for the DS. The game has a good assortment of titles, a great set of extras, and smart Wi-Fi support. If development continues in this positive direction, the game should be one to pick up when it hits stores this March.

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