The last two decades have seen the almost total collapse of the traditional American arcade. Sure, you'll still find places like Ground Kontrol that exist thanks to the two-pronged assault of nostalgia and the intoxicating power of alcohol, but the smoke-filled, neon-lit rooms of the '80s are as rare as unicorns, and not nearly as appealing to preteen girls.
With the death of the industry, so went traditional arcade games. While Capcom's Street Fighter series persists through fond memories, companies like SNK have been relegated to releasing collections of their older titles on today's hardware. Their newest collection, SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1, recently hit store shelves for the PlayStation 2 and more interestingly, the PlayStation Portable, bringing with it a number of classic titles. From Samurai Shodown and The King of Fighters to Metal Slug and Baseball Stars, all of SNK's popular series are here—albeit in whatever form they were last seen in, circa 1994.
The good news is that each game in the collection (16 in all) looks, sounds, and feels exactly as it did in the arcades more than a decade ago. The bad news, though, is that each game looks, sounds, and feels exactly as it did in the arcades more than a decade ago, flaws and all. Granted, SNK is kind enough to throw in some promotional artwork for those diehard fans who worship classic games like teen girls who fawn after Jonathan Taylor Thomas—but since all this art was already created for the games more than a decade ago, it feels more like SNK's just cleaning out their closets than actually putting effort into adding value to a group of games that can be had for free if you're familiar with the proper internet channels.
Fans of the original games, though, will be overjoyed to finally receive portable versions of these games, and the PSP is easily capable of running each game as well as any of the original arcade cabinets. But those who got their fill of these games years ago can easily find something better on the handheld system for this collection's $30 price tag.