The Games of the Konami Anniversary Collection: Arcade Classics

A few of the games I got on sale recently are three collections of Konami classic games.  So today we’ll look at the collection with a bunch of Konami arcade titles.  I’ll go over the other collections in the coming weeks, don’t worry.  They should’ve called this the Shooter Collection, because with the exception of one game on here, they’re all shooters.  So let’s take a look at what’s on here!

Before we do, though, I would like to mention a couple of extras on here.  You can view a scanned booklet with history and art of all the games, and even sheet music!  It looks like something that was printed, and makes me wonder if they were planning a physical copy of this at some point.  I would’ve paid 20 or 30 bucks for a physical version of this, but not digital as it only has 8 games.  Konami made a better collection of arcade titles on the PSOne and had stuff like Time Pilot and Gyruss on it.  Wish this one had those.  You can also play the Japanese version of most of these games as well, but save for a couple of titles, there’s not a lot of difference in them.


This was a very early 80’s arcade shooter.  Sometimes Konami likes to call it the prequel to Gradius, but I don’t know about that.  They also sometimes like to call Rush’N Attack/Green Beret the prequel to Contra.  But anyway, it’s just a basic shooter where you can bomb rockets and fuel tanks on the ground, and if you bomb the fuel tanks, you refill your ship and can keep flying somehow.  I don’t ever remember seeing this in arcades, but even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have paid too much attention to it as it’s pretty generic and looks like every other space shooter out there at the time.


This was probably one of the first examples of the ‘cute ‘em up’ sub-genre of shooters, as you fly over colorful settings and shoot flying food.  You pilot cute little round mechs and if you take a hit on the side, you can lose one of your shooting arms but can still fly.  It’s really one of the more playable titles on here and I got pretty far in it on my first try.  I don’t remember ever seeing this in arcades, because I think it was Japan only, but I do remember hearing that the European version went under the name Bells and Whistles once.  The first time I remember seeing a TwinBee game was reading about one of the side scrolling spinoffs that came out in the US under the name Stinger.  For the TwinBee 10th Anniversary, Konami made an arcade game called TwinBee Yahoo and it’s really good!  I’ve played it on a TwinBee collection I imported for my PSP.  If you’re a fan of TwinBee, you should check it out!  Also, did you know that in Japan, there was a TwinBee anime?  I don’t think it got translated to English, but I know the Goemon one did because I have it on DVD!


I always thought Nemesis was the European name for Gradius, but yeah, this is the first Gradius game.  People call it the granddaddy of all shooters, but while it’s not the first one, it’s one that perfected it.  Fun fact: the first game I played on the SNES was NOT Super Mario World, but Gradius 3.  Anyway, I don’t remember ever seeing Gradius in arcades until MUCH later.  I had already played Gradius 3 when I first saw the original in an arcade.  So I mostly knew it from the NES version.  I like Gradius’ unique power-up system, but it has one flaw: if you die, you’re screwed as you lose all your parts and must start over at a checkpoint with no powers and a ship that’s slow as molasses.  But even though the games are stupid hard, I still like the Gradius series for some reason.  The stages are very imaginative (love the Easter Island heads) and I always feel like I can get a little farther each time I die.  It’s tough, but fair (sort of).  I actually got to play a super rare Gradius game in an arcade once.  It was called Solar Assault and was a cross between Gradius and Star Fox!

Life Force

I have a lot of good memories renting this game on the NES a bunch and playing it with my friend.  We beat it together, even though we did use the Konami code and I’m sure he got further than me.  I did see this in an arcade once at Six Flags, though.  Back then, Six Flags had a lot of good arcades and I even think game makers used those arcades to test out new machines.  That’s how I think I got to play the TMNT arcade game WAY early at Six Flags anyway.  Life Force is a Gradius spinoff and has more of an organic biological theme to it.  And some of the stages scroll vertically.  It may just be me, but this version seems to have wonky hit detection, though.  The power up system is slightly different, but one cool thing is that you can pick up your ‘options’ if you die.

Life Force went through three different interesting changes.  In Japan, the game was called Salamander, and when they brought it to the US, they changed the name to Life Force and altered some graphics and voices to make it look more organic.  For instance, the 2nd stage set in space in Salamander now has a background and the voice tells you the asteroids are kidney stones!  But then they brought Life Force BACK to Japan with even more changes!  Now the asteroids are a pink flesh color and the mechanical core ship boss of the second stage is now a brain with four green arms!  Anyway, you can play Salamander and US Life Force on this collection, but not the Japan Life Force.  I have a Salamander collection imported on my PSP and Salamander 2 is really cool.  The first stage is like the original level in Life Force, except the brain with arms taunts you the whole way, only to be eating by a giant worm at the end!  And then you have to beat that worm!


This shooter uses a lot of “Mode 7” scaling graphics, but not in a good way.  In the first level, it looks like you’re shooting straight down into the ocean, and you attack a giant aircraft carrier by flying towards it.  Doesn’t seem very logical to me.  And the second area you’re in a helicopter in a more generic vertically scrolling shooter.  But by then it gets crazy hard so I stopped playing it.  I think Namco did a better job using that “Mode 7” technology in their shooters like Ordyne, Assault, and Phelios.

Haunted Castle

It’s the arcade version of Castlevania.  I didn’t even know there was an arcade version of Castlevania until the Internet told me.  It’s the only game on here that’s not a shooter, and I don’t know why they didn’t put it on the Castlevania Collection (which I’ll go over in a future blog).  I’m not really a big Castlevania fan, and this game didn’t do anything to change that.  Too many cheap hits and knockbacks to be playable.  I will say the graphics look nice for the time.

Vulcan Venture

It’s just Gradius 2.  I never saw it in arcades but I do remember reading about it in magazines back then and I always thought it looked cool. Even the Famicom version looked neat and I wish we could’ve gotten it over here.  It’s still super hard, though.  By the way, you can put games in this collection on ‘Easy’ mode, but they don’t seem any easier to me!

Thunder Cross

And last is this shooter I never saw in arcades either.  I think they wanted it to be a Gradius game because a lot of the ships have the same formations, and the bosses remind me of Gradius ones as well.  You even get two options flying with you at the start of the game, and can pick up two more plus better rapid fire if you can stay alive long enough.  One thing this game has going for it is that you can continue right where you left off, so it’s the only one on this collection I actually beat!  Only bad thing is the graphics are very garish.  One level has you flying in sickly green clouds, and another had red clouds in a sunset, but the colors were so bright it almost gave me a headache!  But other than that it’s an all right shooter.

And those are all the games on this collection!  Let me know what you think, and tell me your favorite Konami arcade games!  Later!  –Cary

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