A few of you may be surprised to learn that roughly 20 years before Tecmo was developing drop dead gorgeous games like Ninja Gaiden and their Dead or Alive series, they were in the arcade business making relatively average looking 2D style games. What is possibly more shocking is that none of these early Tecmo games featured scantily clad women with large chests playing beach volleyball. As disappointing as that may be to a few of you, let\'s move on and examine Tecmo Classic Arcade.
Tecmo was never known as a behemoth in the arcade industry. However, they managed to dig through their archives and slap together this compilation of 11 games that hit the arcades from 1981 to 1991. Those who didn\'t live in an arcade in the 1980\'s may only recognize a few of these games from their much better known NES versions - such as Tecmo Bowl, Rygar and Solomon\'s Key. What we\'re left with is a collection that is largely filled with lesser known games, and unfortunately, the bulk of these are not hidden gems.
I noticed a few really big disappointments before I even put the disc into the Xbox. First off, the price tag of $30 seems out of whack with other arcade compilations such as Midway Treasures and Namco Museum. Making matter worse, some of Tecmo\'s biggest and best arcade games such as Ninja Gaiden and Silk Worm are nowhere to be found. These omissions seem inexcusable, especially considering the higher price tag and the fact that Tecmo wasn\'t overflowing with arcade hits to begin with.
On the positive side, most of the better known games still hold their charm. Despite being nearly 20 years old, Tecmo Bowl remains a surprisingly fun football game and a fine trip down memory lane. While the single player game can get old after a few minutes (it\'s a tad on the easy side), the multiplayer - up to 4 players can join in - is as fun as it ever was. Other games that hold up well are Rygar (a challenging side scrolling action adventure game), Bomb Jack (a simple collect the bombs while avoiding the enemies game), and Solomon\'s Key (a fun and challenging puzzle solving game).
I found myself having trouble caring about the rest of the collection. Pleiads is a knockoff of Space Invaders and Galaga, but not as good as either. The same goes for Strato Fighter which plays very similar to Defender, but just is not in the same league. Tecmo Cup is a soccer game that simply did not hold up well with time. Pinball Action is a rather mundane pinball game that features changing playfields, but feels terribly outdated and offers very little entertainment value. Swimmer is a game in which you try to guide a guy swimming through a river while dodging obstacles and collecting fruit. I say \"try\" because the controls are frustrating and feel unresponsive. Senjyo is a very early 3D shooter. It is impressive considering it was made in 1983, but as with most of the games on this set it just won\'t spark any real interest from the casual player.
I was hoping to find some nifty extra features to redeem this package, but sadly I was also left disappointed in that regard. There are no unlockable games or extras to be found - nor are there any videos or documentaries. The only extra you will find is a gallery featuring a handful of old posters and original manuals from these games.
Technically speaking, these games are faithful recreations of their arcade counterpart. All the visuals and sounds appear to have made the trip to the Xbox intact. Many of the sound effects can get pretty annoying, such as a few of the high pitched tones you will hear in Pleiads, but that is to be expected when you are dealing with 25 year old games.
The bottom line is that I could only recommend this collection to the diehard fan that is already familiar with most of these games. Those looking for a Tecmo Bowl, Rygar, or Solomon\'s Key fix should simply dust off your old Nintendo and save the $30. Now that I think about it, you could probably buy an old NES and all those great Tecmo games for under 30 bucks, and you would still have enough left over to buy the Ninja Gaiden cartridge and complete the true ultimate Tecmo collection.
Lastly, I must say that this collection highlights just how far Tecmo has come in the last 20 years. I largely played these arcade games while taking breaks from Tecmo\'s newly released Ninja Gaiden Black. The contrast between the two was simply amazing. From makers of average 80\'s arcade fare to one of the best and technically advanced adventure games to date, Tecmo has come a long way indeed.