Konami's history goes way back to the late '60s, but the company first started to attract real attention in the '80s with a healthy list of arcade games that seeded the ground for its eventual expansion into console game development. While plenty of those arcade hits have been released in various forms elsewhere, now the Nintendo DS is getting a stout compilation of 15 games from Konami's past. The games feel pretty accurate, though the screen size of the Nintendo DS leaves a lot of the games looking a little squashed.
Using a rotating wheel on the bottom screen, you can choose from Time Pilot, Roc'n Rope, Track & Field, Circus Charlie, Basketball, Road Fighter, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Rainbow Bell (perhaps better known as Twinbee), Shao-Lin's Road, Gradius, Rush'n Attack, Contra, Scramble, Horror Maze, and Pooyan. Obviously, some of those games are better known than others, and some of those games are better than others. Basketball, for example, is a dreadful arcade game that's not much fun to play at all. But games like Contra, Gradius, Time Pilot, and Yie Ar Kung-Fu are still reasonably exciting to play. By default, the games run on the top screen. You can pause the game at any time to access a few different options, including a few that change the orientation of the game screen. But most of the viable options squish the screen a bit and take out a few lines of resolution, making a lot of the text very hard to read. If you dig deep into the game options, you'll find pictures of the actual printed circuit boards of the arcade machines, complete with adjustable DIP switches that let you change the game's difficulty, the sound in attract mode, the number of lives, and so on. It's a cool way to handle these settings that gives the whole package a more authentic feel.
In addition to just playing the games by yourself, you can link up with another player for two-player games, and you can record yourself playing, then send those replays to other players so they can watch your performance. Since the package is light on two-player simultaneous games, the link up feature isn't supremely useful, but it's necessary where Contra is concerned.
While you probably won't spend too much time on games like Road Fighter or Circus Charlie, there are enough bona fide classics to give the collection a first look, and there's enough depth with some of the lesser-known arcade games to make it worth a second and third look, too.