Worth Playing vol. 4: The Compilation Compendium

What can be better than owning a ton of video games?

Owning a one video game that has a TON of video games all packed in to one disc!

The game compilation is an ideal way for publishers to re-release games and have gamers pay for them all over again, but it is also a great way for gamers to experience titles they may have missed or otherwise skipped over from years past. While some packages are just thrown together without any thought, others are done well and are deserving of your dollar. Here is my list of video game compilations that are very much worth checking out.

Game: Capcom Classics Collection (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)
PS2, Xbox
$10 (Vol. 1); $12 (Vol. 2)

Capcom Classics Collection comes in two volumes (and a portable version on the PSP) and puts together a total of 42 Capcom arcade games on two discs. The fact that they are faithful arcade ports means if you played the game on the home consoles in years past then you’re in for a new experience for most of these games. Major highlights included are Street Fighter which is only available in the US in the second volume, every iteration of Street Fighter II, supremely awesome sidescrollers Final Fight, Captain Commando, Knights of the Round, and Magic Sword, as well as arcade staples 1942 and Mercs. Throw on added content like artwork, unlockable cheats, and game information and you’ve got a two games that are worth the price of admission for content alone.

Why you should play it
It’s the easiest way to play some of these games (Street Fighter, Captain Commando, Strider, etc.)
– Bonus content gives incentive to play each and every game
– Lots of multiplayer titles to play around with as well as single player romps
– It’s relatively cheap

Game: Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection
Genre: Fighting
System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Price: $10

Nothing can recreate the frenzy of Mortal Kombat in the arcades back in the 90’s. When the first game came out it drew countless people to it’s cabinet in hopes of seeing someone’s spine get pulled off, or better yet see someone impaled by a bed of spikes. Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection bundles up the first two arcade games (Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II) as well as the third game’s revision, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. These arcade ports run smoothly and feature online multiplayer for each title, emulating as best it can the excitement of playing in the arcades. Reliving each gory fatality has never been better, and if this is your first foray into the series, the $10 price tag is all too inviting to pass by.

Why you should play it
– Each game is an arcade-perfect port of the original
Added online multiplayer!
– Tight controls and a unique fighting experience

Game: Midway Arcade Treasures (1, 2, and 3)
Genre: Compilation
System: PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, PC, PSP
Price: $8 (Vol. 1); $10 (Vol. 2); $8 (Vol. 3); $10 (Extended Play – PSP)

Another compilation that gives you a hell of a lot of bang for your buck, the Midway Arcade Treasures series puts together a boatload of classic Midway games. My personal favorites are Mortal Kombat II and 3, NARC, Total Carnage, Hydro Thunder, Root Beer Tapper, Gauntlet, Rampage, and Primal Rage. Only problem with these is that they’re aren’t ported well, with frequent sound drops, frame skips, and sometimes improper loads. They do, however, go in a generational sort of sequence, with the first collecting older 8-Bit games, the second collecting more mature and action packed games, and the third containing solely racing games. With most all of these games supporting one or two players, it’s sure to please for a few restless nights of retro gaming.

Why you should play it
– Each volume contains a game you’re going to like, no matter what genre
A good selection of titles in the first two volumes represents a huge range of gameplay
– Midway itself is now no longer with us, so remember their one-time epicness with these gems

Game: Mega Man Anniversary Collection (Classic, X, and Zero collections)
Genre: Action/Platformer
System: Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, DS
Price: $12 (Classic); $14 (X); $30 (Zero)

Here’s the way to reintroduce gamers to a classic icon of games. The first Mega Man Anniversary Collection includes Mega Man I through VIII, Mega Man X Collection includes Mega Man X 1 through 6, and Mega Man Zero Collection has Mega Man Zero 1 through 4. That’s a huge number of games in just three compilations, and yet there’s more. Included in the first game are fully playable arcade ports of Mega Man: The Power Battle and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, the arcade fighting games, and in the X collection is Mega Man: Battle & Chase, the racing game previously released only in Japan. On top of THAT you’ve got unlockable content like remixed music, interviews with the series creator, bonus artwork, and even more Mega Man goodies. Fans of the Blue Bomber owe it to themselves to relive these ones, and newbies should see where gaming started to take its roots.

Why you should play it
Paying for each game otherwise will set you back hundreds of dollars
– The bonus games are worth it alone for fans
– It’s Mega Man at his peak, and that peak was awesome

Game: SNK Fighter Compilations (King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, World Heroes, Samurai Shodown)
Genre: Fighting
System: PS2, Wii, PSP
Price: ~$15 each

I couldn’t put just one of these on this list because, well, they aren’t that good to be here. But altogether they are decent. The SNK fighter compilations are packages that include many games from each series. They include The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga, Fatal Fury Battle Archives vol. 1 & 2, Art of Fighting Anthology, World Heroes Anthology, and Samurai Shodown Anthology (and to a lesser extent NeoGeo Battle Coliseum). Each title has the original game included as well as several sequels (with Battle Coliseum being a crossover brawler for the company much like Capcom’s Vs. series). The SNK fighters are all very unique in their concept, presentation, and artwork, but they never lived up to the hype brought on by the Street Fighter series and Capcom’s other fighters. But for a few bucks each, it’s worth checking out each of these titles to see what being second place in the fighting world was like. World Heroesis rather novel to me, because it collects combatants from across time to fight it out, including Joan of Arc and Jack the Ripper. Pretty sweet.

Why you should play them
– They offer a drastically different approach to the fighting genre made famous by Capcom
– The Fatal Fury series is actually not too bad and holds up the best
The King of Fighters Collection is a game that compiles games that compiles fighters from other games to fight it out in one game. It’s so meta...

Game: The Final Fantasy Collections (Anthology, Chronicles, Origins)
Genre: Role Playing Game
System: PS1
Price: $12 (Anthology); $14 (Chronicles); $10 (Origins)

The Final Fantasy series is no stranger to gamers. The RPG genre owes a lot to the Final Fantasy games, and many attribute the success of the series to runaway hits like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VI. But many haven’t even traversed the earlier non-PS1 titles. Anthology includes FFV and FFVI, Chronicles has FFIV and Chrono Trigger, and Origins includes FFI and FFII. These are good ports of classic RPGs and for some gamers are the first time they’ve experienced them. FFIV and FFVI are often considered to be the greatest in the entire series (I’ll stand by that claim for FFIV), and on top of that Chronicles‘ inclusion of RPG powerhouse Chrono Trigger makes these three PS1 games fantastic compilations. I do not know why Square Enix hasn’t re-released all these games on ONE disc yet on current generation systems, but time will tell. Maybe they’re working on that FFVII remake…

Why you should play them
– Playing them in order shows the progression and improvements the series has gone through
– FFIV and FFVI are included and are some of the best in the entire series/genre
– If you liked any Final Fantasy game then you’d enjoy seeing the games’ roots
Hundreds of hours of quality gameplay and epic stories

Game: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
Genre: Action
System: PSP
Price: $13

Not only does Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles give US gamers the Rondo of Blood remake we’ve so desperately wanted, but it also packs in a faithful Sega Saturn port of Symphony of the Night for good measure. Castlevania fans will eat up the two games that are here because they are some of the best in the entire franchise. Not only that but they also offer incredibly replay value, with unlockable characters, modes, and boss rushes that extend the life of the game further. If you’re not acquainted with the demon-slaying series and you’ve got a PSP collecting dust, I highly recommend picking up this one and start cracking that whip.

Why you should play it
– Two excellent games are put together for the first time (one is completely reworked)
Bonus content will ensure the longevity of the title
– Readily available to pick up today!

Game: Darkstalkers Chronicles: The Chaos Tower
Genre: Fighting
System: PSP
Price: $11

This is actually one of the very first PSP games I ever owned, and it’s a good one. Darkstalkers Chronicles isn’t exactly a compilation of previous Darkstalker games, but rather a mash-up of said earlier games. Players can choose to play as any character from the series thus far, and also select which version of the character they want to play as. So in a similar fashion to Hyper Street Fighter II, you can fight as Darkstalkers 3 Morrigan vs. Darkstalkers 1 Demitri. This PSP collection is the easiest (not to mention cheapest) way to get your hold on the series and is an excellent introduction to the series for newcomers. Now if only Capcom would make a Darkstalkers IV

Why you should play it
– It plays much like Street Fighter and features demons, vampires, and werewolves as combatants
– It’s the best port of the game out there
Support the title and encourage Capcom to make a damn sequel!

Game: Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection
Genre: Compilation
System: PS3, Xbox 360
Price: $17

Sega had some fantastic titles on the Genesis, not the least of which starred the fastest thing alive. Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection pulls together the first four Sonic titles, along with other “classics” like Comix Zone, Alex Kidd, Columns, all three Streets of Rage, all three Golden Axes, and both Vectorman games. And there’s more than tat on the disc as well: unlockable arcade games and special artwork/notes can be viewed for each title as well. Speaking just of quantity, this package is astounding, and better yet, there are plenty of quality games in this collection too. Well done Sonic, well done. Also worth mentioning here is Sonic’s solo compilation package, Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PS2 which collects all of Sonic’s adventures on the Genesis and Game Gear. Awesome!

Why you should play it
A dozen excellent games that hold up well today
– Plenty of unlockables and content to keep you going for weeks
– Ports are handled well, and include trophy/achievement support!

Game: Metal Slug Anthology
Genre: Shooter
System: PS2, Wii, PSP
Price: $15-20

The Metal Slug series has been consistently awesome and yet consistently overshadowed for years. The run-and-gun action combined with the fast gameplay and beautiful art make for a great gaming experience. Metal Slug Anthology brings together the first seven Metal Slug titles (1 through 6 and X), which are still fun today. The added bonus of unlimited continues helps out here, as the games are incredibly difficult to complete. Bonus artwork can be unlocked by completed each game with certain restrictions, adding extra incentive for players. And there really isn’t a two-player shooter experience quite as sweet as Metal Slug.

Why you should play it
– Each game is gorgeous to look and simply fun to play
If you’ve got a buddy to play with then you’re in for a real treat
– Unlockable content will challenge even the Metal Slug elite

That’s 22 games featuring over 207 titles to play through. Love them or hate them, compilations do offer games a lot of content for a lower value. And if they games are done well like the ones listed above, then I say bring on the collections, anniversary specials, and remakes! I’m game.



I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Eric

    Love this post, man. There are so many compilations out there that it’s overwhelming when you want to actually get one. I have the Castlevania, Sonic and Metal Slug anthologies that you mentioned, and all are indeed fantastic. I’m going to keep an eye out for the Mega Man one — it will be great to have all of them in one place.

    1. jsicktheslick

      Absolutely agree. I’d recommend the PS2 version over the others, just because it feels the most natural to control. Either way, all fantastic titles.

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