Nintendo’s decision not to bring a selection of their own classic titles to Virtual Console out of the gate for the Nintendo Switch is a confusing one. There’s a massive library of titles, from the 8-bit NES era through to the Wii U and everything in-between that could make all the difference. I’m still hoping that in won’t be too long before some rarer GameCube games can be made available to download onto the device, one way or another.
Luckily for those who don’t mind where their Virtual Console fix comes from, SNK have got you covered for the console’s launch. What’s nice to see is that it’s not just the staples of their library, but also includes some of their more obscure games as well.
All of these games contain a plethora of options menus, similar to those found hidden in arcade boards. This essentially increases/decreases the difficulty, as well as enables certain game features and continues. You also have the option to tinker with the display, though I personally did not touch this as putting the pixels at wide screen resolutions stretches the image.
Each game also comes complete with a choice of four options. You can either play the Japanese or English version of the game, play on one continue to reach a High Score leaderboard that’s shared globally, or the Caravan Mode which is similar to High Score, but with a five minute time limit imposed.
At launch, there are five games on offer with local multiplayer for two players available. All are compatible with using the Joy-Con horizontally – and since you’ve got two, why not get a few quick bouts of The King of Fighters ’98 in at lunch? – but you can also use them paired up in the Joy-Con Grip or use the Switch Pro Controller should you prefer. Surprisingly the left Joy-con’s split up arrow buttons still allow for a decent level of control over the fighting games included here.
Without further ado, here’s a brief paragraph on each one.
World Heroes Perfect
One of the oldest game on the list, time has not been all that kind to this knock-off franchise that taps into more clichés than is humanly comfortable. It’s not a terrible fighting game, and chaining together combos is possible and you can perform Supers – dubbed Hero Moves here – but it is certainly showing its age. It does also mark the last game in the franchise, so it’s probably the best of the bunch as a result.
Metal Slug 3
This run-and-gun shooter platformer is, rather confusingly, the fourth instalment of the Metal Slug franchise and it’s a damn good one. It marks the point where you could turn into a zombie and spew blood everywhere, get fat and cause heavier damage, and even fight aliens. It’s somewhat of a classic from the era and well worth playing for a few giggles.
Unfortunately, Shock Troopers feels like a more generic take on Metal Slug from a top-down perspective. There are some neat ideas, such as each of the eight playable characters having their own bomb variant, but the enemy design is as generic as they come. You also play through one of three five-level tracks, culminating in a final encounter that, thanks to the arcade emulation, is a breeze. I must admit I wasn’t overly impressed with this run-of-the-mill game.
Waku Waku 7
This isn’t the seventh instalment in a franchise nobody’s heard of, but rather the number of playable characters, Waku Waku 7 is the most obscure of the games found in this collection thus far. With its eclectic cast of characters, taking inspiration from the likes of Studio Ghibli to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, it’s a fun little romp that culminates in a gargantuan final boss. There’s nothing especially complex about the fighting either, but it’s enjoyable.
The King of Fighters ‘98
It would be silly not to include one of the King of Fighters games in this early wave of Neo Geo games, and it makes sense to include the one that’s regarded as perhaps the best of the franchise. Its default 3v3 fights can also be configured to standard 1v1 bouts in the options menu, making this the most flexible of the collection. If there’s one currently available fighting game that still holds up, this is the one.
Support for the Switch with Neo Geo games seems to be continuing for a while with NAM-1975 being released this week as well, meaning there could be other classics down the line. Are there any games for the Neo Geo that you feel should be included in the line-up for the Nintendo Switch? Sound off in the comments, where you can also bemoan the fact that you can’t play Mario Kart 64/Luigi’s Mansion/Super Mario Bros. 3 on the Switch just yet.