Diablo, Overwatch, StarCraft & World of Warcraft are all worldwide known titles which bring the name Blizzard to millions of gamers tongues, but where did they start? Glad you asked, let’s have a wander down the arcade and have a look shall we?.
Blizzard Arcade Collection, a title many people weren’t expecting and even more people were left scratching their heads at considering none of the titles on offer had an arcade cabinet, did the term Arcade score higher in product testing?.
So what is on offer in this collection? Well 3 rather iconic SNES/MD era games, Rock n Roll Racing, The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne, two of those titles I was already familiar with where as Blackthorne was a new one to me, are they worth bundling together and having the name of Blizzard? Let’s have a look individually.
ROCK N ROLL RACING.
Rock N Roll Racing is an isometric racing game with its feet firmly planted in the metal genre of music which pours out of every orifice of this title, the music, the car designs, the characters and even the commentators have that 90’s ‘tude, think Sonic the Hedgehog if he wore a Metallica hoodie!.
You start off on a gas planet with a small amount of money and a choice of car to drive, you then take this car through a tournament racking up enough wins and money to not only progress to another planet but upgrade your car and eventually buy a new one to get further and further up the ranks of international racing superstardom!.
You have various weapons at your disposal such as tacks, missiles and oil slicks as well as a turbo to really get the most out of your monster machine. A careful mix of defense and offense will see you to victory, take too much damage you’ll destroy your car and it could not only cost you the race but also cost you your ticket to the next planet.
Controls are smooth and once you get used to the isometric camera angles you’ll be winning races in no time!. The game is fast and frantic and the art direction certainly helps out where the stages are for want of a better word, a little barren.
Audio is fantastic with a wisecracking commentator much in the vein of NBA Jam and there are even familiar rock songs such as Born to be Wild and Breaking the Law, this goes along way to separating this title from the 16 bit racer pack.
On offer in this collection is the Super Nintendo version, the Mega Drive version and the “Definitive Version’. While the console versions differences are stuff like stronger audio on one and the Mega Drive version has different tracks, the Definitive is a brand new version just for this package. Here we have the extra tracks of the Mega Drive with the graphics of the SNES and CD QUALITY AUDIO, yes the licenced soundtrack has the actual songs here which is phenomenal, no Paranoid by Black Sabbath though sadly. The only downside of this “Definitive” version is the fact you can’t save state like you would the console versions, you have old school passwords to wrestle with that have a tendency not to record ALL of your progress.
Blackthorne is honestly the “black sheep” of this package for most being it’s a Cinematic Platform akin to Flashback, Prince of Persia and the like, as a child I was never a fan of these games but nowadays I find myself captivated by them, Blackthorne is no exception.
What Blizzard put together here is gritty and dark Sci-Fi Adventure which has you fighting an evil king and releasing slaves, it’s alot more in-depth than that but I feel you should experience the narrative more for yourself.
You play as Kyle who has the platforming abilities of the original Prince of Persia and the shotgun from Doom. He stinks of 90s ‘tude and the SNES cover for the game was drawn by Jim Lee. All of that should tell you boomer lot about whether this is for you or not.
Graphically it’s dark in tone and there are 5 different areas of the planet with drastically different themes, all beautifully drawn. The character animations are well done as you would expect from the genre and every action feels as weighty as they should.
The combat is the area that holds this title back a little. Alot of the time combat requires you to either get the drop on your foe or play a really awkward “Peak-a-boo” from door frames with your Orc like foes. There are also grenades and other items to ration through the story.
Again you have several versions here of the game, SNES, 32X and Definitive. SNES has sprite graphics, 32X has CG graphics and an extra area and the Definitive has a map alongside the previous visuals making it an ideal way to play the game.
The Lost Vikings.
The Lost Vikings was a game I was very aware of in my younger years, often seen in magazines but I never actually played until this compilation.
The game puts you in the horned helmets of 3 Vikings who have been kidnapped by Aliens, Erik the Swift, Olaf the Stout, and Baleog the Fierce are your three playable characters and you’ll need each ones unique abilities to get off the alien spaceship and back home.
Erik runs fast and can barge things out of the way. Olaf has a shield which allows for floating, defence and a portable platform and Baleog has his trusty sword and arrow. You can switch between all 3 at any time and the objective is to use each Viking to get all three to the exit and onto the next stage.
The Lost Vikings has a charmingly cartoon artsyle and a funky soundtrack which helps elevate this puzzle game above the rest, while usually not my cup of tea I spent a lot of time with the Vikings in this collection, scratching my head at the puzzles and having a genuinely fun time.
Once again you get a collection of ports of the game, Mega Drive, SNES and The Definitive. Here the Mega Drive has extra stages, better audio and a few small dialogue extras but naturally the Definitive marries them with the SNES visuals and controls to make it a buttery smooth experience.
So we’ve looked at the games but what about the collection that binds these together?.
Off the bat the presentation is outstanding and you can see great effort has been put in to how these games are presented and the extras accompanying them.
The soundtracks for The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne are available in a nifty little music player, naturally Rock n Roll Racing isn’t available for this but still very nice to have the option.
Other content in the package includes promotional artwork, concept art and facts, video interviews about the titles, Blizzard and the members of staff involved with the games.
The content here is fantastic for anyone interested in the history of this iconic company or indeed the history of video games in general, well worth a trip into this treasure trove and I LOVE it when collections go to such lengths with the “bonus” material.
End of Days.
Blizzard Arcade Collection is a fantastic celebration of one of the most iconic developers in western gaming & the era their style first started to shine through. The collection could have stood to have a few more titles, Lost Vikings 2, War/StarCraft & Diablo would have been amazing additions but what is on offer here is fantastic.
The extras here are a must for fans of the games and developers and more than justify the price and rather bloated file size (4.2GB!).
A fantastic example of how a collection of games should be done. Only 3 games available does hold this back a little.