Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits DS Review

Konami has always had good luck when it comes to turning back to its arcade roots. It's released a series of classic compilations over the years, with its Oretachi PS2 releases in Japan along with Konami Arcade Classics for the Sony PlayStation and Game Boy Advance. Now it visits yesteryear once more with its most lovingly packaged classic compilation to date, Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits. While not all the games are winners, most of them are, and that's pretty good news for us.

The collection features fifteen games in all -- the fighting game Yie Ar Kung Fu, the shooter Time Pilot, the action-filled Rush n' Attack, the space adventure Scramble, the NES classic Gradius, the decathlon-themed Track & Field, the over-the-top platformer Circus Charlie, the basketball game Basketball (um, duh), the arcade hit Contra, the cartoonish shooter Rainbow Bell (does the name Twinbee ring a bell?), the strategy action game Roc n' Rope, the pig-shooting epic Pooyan, the kicking-bad-guys classic Shaolin's Road (aka Kicker), the adventure game Horrormaze (aka Tutankham), and the overhead racing antics of Road Fighter.

Right off the bat, you could probably recognize a few of the games. Contra and Rush n' Attack are great as they've always been, restored right down to the last pixel. Track & Field has a weird new intro theme (probably because the producers of Chariots of Fire weren't happy with the mimicry), but the rest of the game is tap-tap-tapping fun; and Shaolin's Road is easily a sleeper in my book. I could kick Don Adams kung-fu look-alikes all day. However, some of the games completely suck. Circus Charlie, I'm sorry, isn't any fun whatsoever. Basketball should have been replaced by the far superior Double Dribble, as it's merely an offensive showcase here. And Road Fighter...ugh. These could have been replaced by better games, like Gyruss, Frogger and maybe even Super Contra. I would've killed for that.

Regardless, all of the games have been restored very nicely, and many options can be played around with in the touch-screen interface. Care to listen to a few classic tunes? Hop right in and choose your selections. You can also wheel through the selections with an interesting menu screen, rotating with ease. The graphics don't look amazing, but it is pretty cool for a classic compilation. The music's alright, too, even with the new Track & Field intro.

Best of all, Konami Classics supports multiplayer quite well. Players can download game movies and even multiplayer games to other systems with only one cartridge, or they can team up with a pal who has a pre-existing copy of the game. Not all games support two-player, nor should they (competitive Pooyan sounds downright boring). But the ones that do, namely Contra and Track & Field, kick a whole lot of ass. Players can also explore with different options in the game, although downloading extra games isn't possible. Ooh, and Konami NEARLY had it perfect!

Regardless, Arcade Hits should be picked up by nostalgic fans everywhere, whether you played these games in an arcade or on the NES. The shooting and sports action should be more than suitable to your needs, and with the label Konami Classics Series established before Arcade Hits, that can only mean that the company's just getting started. Right on -- I can't wait for chapter two. BRING GYRUSS!

What's Hot: Downloadable play and multiplayer rocks; some classic favorites have been wonderfully restored.

What's Not: Some terribly lame game choices just don't belong; where's Gyruss?