The Microsoft XBox Retro Compilation Library

 

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You can’t help but admit you like the benefits of newer consoles: wireless controllers, better video connections, faster load times. So is it so wrong to want to be able to play a bunch of old games on your new hardware? Of course not.

With classic game compilations you can easily get a solid collection of retro games without spending a lot of cash. In fact, picking up one of these retail packs will be much more cost effective than picking out just a few Virtual Console games on the Wii. Here is the original XBox’s compilation library.

Sonic Mega Collection Plus

Sonic Mega Collection CoverIf you are an old-school Sonic fan and want a way to play the collection on newer hardware, the Sonic Mega Collection Plus is the way to go. Unfortunately, this collection only includes the vanilla Genesis games as opposed to its successors on the Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn. However, most of the good stuff was on the Genesis, so there isn’t much to complain about. Sonic Mega Collection is a top-notch Sonic anthology with plenty to keep you busy. The only disappointment is the lackluster interface when compared to Sonic Jam on the Saturn. It does however, have a wealth of extras such as Sonic Comics, Illustrations, & various Video Clips. This “Plus” version includes the mid-game saving feature that was missing in the Gamecube’s original release.

The Games

Conversion Quality: Excellent
If you’ve experienced many of the commercial attempts at emulating Sega Genesis games in the past, you can appreciate some of the high-quality emulation demonstrated in this package, particularly in the sound department.

Price Point: $13

Capcom Classics Collection

Capcom Classics Collection CoverGiven my interest in 2D fighting and side-scrolling brawlers, it should come as no suprise that Capcom is one of my favorite arcade publishers. Their strong presence in the 1990s arcade scene brought us a number of solid titles that hold up quite well more than a decade later. Many of Capcom’s best titles have resurfaced in the Capcom Classics Collection. Volume One of the Classics Collection is actually an emulated reproduction of the games from the Capcom Generation series that were released on the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn plus a few additional titles. As with the Capcom Generations titles, all games contain extra features (but requires unlocking in CCC), which consists of gameplay tips, artwork, listenable music and cast profiles (in Volume 1 only), although the contents are not identical.

The Games


Conversion Quality: Above Average
Other than a few minor flicker issues, the games are pretty much perfect representations of the original arcade versions. For vertically oriented games, you can opt for an alternate display mode that shuffles the score information off to the side, giving you a larger view of the action. And some games have a “sound remix” option, which usually replaces the music with an arranged version of the soundtrack and cleans up the sound effects a bit by bringing them up to a higher, cleaner bit rate.

Overall, the games all control just fine, though some compromises have been made in Forgotten Worlds’ case. The game had a joystick that you could twist in order to rotate your firing direction. Here, the rotation has been replaced by two buttons, one for each direction.

The general consensus is that the ports of Street Fighter II on this compilation are pretty good, but are a few tweaks away from being arcade perfect. Some of the places this version comes up short is the brief load time before and after each fight, incorrect sound effects, speed discrepancies in Hyper Fighting w, and music cutting out as soon as a round ends, rather than continuing on and gradually fading out as your score is tabulated. None of these are deal-breakers, but seem like things that would typically be resolved in a modern compilation like this. I’m guessing this is a limitation due to it’s emulation of the Capcom Generations version.
Price Point: $9

Capcom Classics Collection 2

Capcom Classics Collection 2 CoverCapcom continued on their success by bringing another solid collection of arcade classics. This second installment doesn’t have as many blockbuster titles to boast, but none of them were previously on Capcom Generation releases and will round out a classic gamer’s collection quite well.

The Games


Conversion Quality: Excellent
Since this new installment is made up of fresh ports/emulations, everything runs at near perfection. Volume 2 retains the original look of its titles, down to the last pixel and there isn’t any noticeable slowdown, audio problems, or video hitches to speak of whatsoever. As for as audio goes, every bleep and track has been faithfully retained to add authenticity. Much like the first volume, remixed audio tracks are an optional addition for a modern twist.
Price Point: $18

Namco Museum

Namco Museum CoverI’ve always had a soft spot for the newer Namco Museum packages as the offer a number of my old favorites put together in a modern interface and usually include some enhanced modes to make it worth buying for fans of the originals. The game selection won’t blow anybody away, but the quality makes up for the lack of quantity.

The Games


Conversion Quality: Excellent
With the simple nature of the original games and Namco’s commitment to quality, you can rest assured that these games will play, look, and sound just like the originals. Nothing to worry about here

Price Point: $7
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Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection

Namco Museum 50th CoverIf you already own the original Namco Museum release, you probably won’t find much reason to pick this newer version up. This 50th Anniversary Edition drops the modernized “Arrangement” versions and adds a bunch of not as popular Namco classics in their place. Rolling Thunder is a common favorite, but most of the other may draw a yawn. If you only want the most arcade authentic games on one disc, this is your ticket, but if you like the “Arrangement” remakes, you will want to go with the original release.
Games

Conversion Quality: Excellent
With the simple nature of the original games and Namco’s commitment to quality, you can rest assured that these games will play, look, and sound just like the originals. Nothing to worry about here

Price Point: $13
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Midway Arcade Treasures

Midway Arcade Treasures Cover Midway Arcade Treasure gives retro fans a heaping spoonful of lots of great arcade classics. Unfortunately as a first effort, Midway didn’t seem to put in as much effort into creating an authentic experience as they could have considering the power of the XBox. If you can find it cheap enough, it isn’t a bad addition to a classic collection. Just be warned of it’s shortcomings (see below).

The Games

Conversion Quality: Below Average
Given that a large portion of the games in Midway Arcade Treasures feature some sort of nonstandard controller, be it a trackball for Marble Madness, a set of handlebars for Paperboy, a 49-position joystick (as opposed to the standard eight) for Sinistar, or the steering yoke for driving games like RoadBlasters or Spy Hunter, the developers had to make a few changes to make the games playable on a standard controller. For the most part, every game is laid out as logically as possible and can simply be picked up and played. However, games that feature analog input feel very loose and are hard to control, especially when compared to the original games. While you can expect that some sacrifices have to be made when adapting an existing game to play on an entirely different set of controls, it feels as if the developers paid very little attention when it came to making sure the games played accurately. In spite of that, almost every game in Midway Arcade Treasures is completely and totally enjoyable once you get a handle on how they play.

Furthermore, many of the games don’t produce the same sounds that they did in the arcade. With the sound, you would have to be very familiar with the original to notice, let alone care, but it is worth mentioning.

Price Point: $7
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Midway Arcade Treasures 2

Midway Arcade Treasures 2 CoverArcade Treasures 2 follows up with more of a fighting them in addition to some other arcade favorites. Unfortunately, much like it’s predecessor, Midway Arcade Treasures 2 isn’t perfect. It has its little glitches and problems here and there. However, the bonus material is nice and most of the games are nearly identical to the arcade originals that they’re trying to duplicate.

The Games

Conversion Quality: Below Average
Many of the games in Arcade Treasures 2 are emulated versions of the arcade games and not actually ports. As a result, some of the games (Mortal Kombat II, Mortal Kombat 3, Pit-Fighter and NARC in particular) have some obvious sound and graphical glitches. Every sound effect in that game plays at the wrong times (for example the original shooting sound effect has become the original “enemy defeated” sound effect, and vice versa), and the game has a very inconsistent framerate, slowing down at almost all times. luckily, the control schemes for most of these games are simpler than those found in the original Arcade Treasures, so there are not as significant issues in that area.

Price Point: $7
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Midway Arcade Treasures 3

Midway Arcade Treasures 3 CoverMidway decided to take a different approach with their third Arcade Treasures installment. This time around that stuck to an actual theme (in this case, racing games) and they brought in some more modern titles to round out the retro-ness. While most of the games in this collection are emulations or recreations of the arcade versions, Hydro Thunder and Rush 2049 are based on the console versions. Both games don’t run quite as well as their Dreamcast counterparts, but having these all on one affordable disc is a nice option.

The Games

Conversion Quality: Below Average
The XBox version of Treasures 3 (along with the PS2 version) suffers from a few minor and major emulation glitches in some of the games. The Gamecube version is the best port of this compilation.

Also, like I mentioned up top, if you want the best experience with Hydro Thunder and SF Rush 2049, you might want to go with the Dreamcast version if you have that console. However, this compilation does a respectible job and having them running off one disc on the XBox (with quicker loads and wireless controllers) is compelling. It’s all up to your priorities.

Price Point: $6
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Atari Anthology

Atari Anthology CoverIf you want to relive your Atari days , the Atari Anthology may be worth looking into. It reproduces both Atari arcade games and titles for the Atari 2600 games console. With 85 different games on one disc, it is a very good value and serves as an instant collection on one well-produced disc. As well as the games themselves, the collection includes extras such as original arcade artwork and scans of the instruction manuals for the Atari 2600 games, as well as video interviews with Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari.

The Games
Atari Anthology features a a ton of great games, so I won’t list them all here. But the complilation does include a number of Atari’s best games such as

Conversion Quality: Average
The 2600 games are emulated pretty well, but the arcade games can be a little spotty. Some of the vector-based arcade titles like Tempest, Battlezone, and Major Havoc have spotty and unfaithful and graphics that are frequently out of proportion. For the most part, the traditional raster-display games, such as Centipede, are reproduced the most accurately, with graphics and sounds that are very close to those of the originals. Since these games originally used special monitors that produced graphics with rays of light rather than pixels, the versions of these games in Atari Anthology are more of a simulation than anything else.

While Tempest, Battlezone, and Red Baron resemble what you might see in an arcade, Gravitar produces graphics so small that they are nearly impossible to see, regardless of what viewing mode you select. Across the board, the vector games also have the most inaccurate sound, at times sounding nothing like the real thing. If you grew up playing these games in arcades, you’ll be pretty disappointed by these re-creations.

Many games have features to play each title at varying speeds, time limits or with a shifting colour palette, depending on the game; some of these modes must be unlocked by reaching predetermined goals in other games.

Price Point: $11
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Taito Legends

Taito Legengs CoverTaito’s arcade library gives old-school gamers a different type of gameplay experience in comparison to Capcom, Namco, and Midway and the Taito Legends compilation offers both a large selection of games and a variety of genres. Some of my favorites such as Bubble Bobble and Elevator Action headline Legends, but there are many other great games for you to explore.

The Games

Conversion Quality: Above Average
The emulation of these game are top notch and will play just like the originals. The only exception are the light-gun games, Operation Wolf, Operation Thunderbolt, and Space Gun. Instead of being able to shoot with a gun, you have to move a cursor around with your controller. Not nearly as much fun that way. If you can get past this limitation, Everything is top notch.

Price Point: $8
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Taito Legends 2

Taito Legends 2 CoverThis Legends follow-up received a US release on the PS2, but for the XBox, it was only a PAL and Japan release. This is a real shame as there are some nice titles in there.

The Games

There are a ton of great games on this compilations with a variety of oldschool genres. Somewhat controversially, 8 of the 43 games were split across the platforms due to porting issues, forcing players to buy more than one version to get every game available. The XBox got Bubble Symphony, Cadash , Pop’n Pop, and RayForce as a console exclusive, but if you want Balloon Bomber, G-Darius, RayStorm, or Syvalion, you’ll have to get the PS2 version.

Conversion Quality: Average
For the most part, the emulation of the games is pretty good, but there are some noted issues with the compilation.

This compilation has no screen options other than resize, so you’ll have to play them with bug black bars on the side or  stretched out.  However, I would assume this is how most people play vertical shmups on a console anyway.

Also, on the screen resize option there is no indication of the texture mapping resolution. You can’t choose what hardware filter to use or disable filtering and the games are forced to run on flicker filter level 5 just like any Xbox game dispite this being old 2D games that benefict from disabled flicker filter.

The sound of the games and menus aren’t normalized, the menu chimes are very lound while the game sound emulation volume is quite low (Darius Gaiden being a perfect example of this)

To make things worse there is a emulation problem on Elevator Action Returns that indicates without doubt this compilation is running possibly unlicensed) MAME code (even the filenames of the ROMs are exactly the same as MAME ROMset).  (Thanks to Timerever for this info)

Price Point: $20
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Tecmo Classic Arcade

Tecmo Classic Arcade Cover

Many classic gamers consider Tecmo Bowl to be the best football video game of all time. That sporting classic is the headlining title of this modest compilation. But other favorites such as Rygare and Solomon’s Key are also included.
The Games
There isn’t a huge selection here, but fans of Tecmo’s old games might find it a worthwhile venture.

  • Pinball Action
  • Strato Fighter
  • Swimmer
  • Bomb Jack
  • Tecmo Cup

Conversion Quality: Excellent
Tecmo’s older games aren’t very complex, so everything has translated pretty well.

Price Point: $6
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Intellivision Lives!

Intellivision Lives! Cover

The Intellivision is pretty old, even by my standards and many of its games have a hard time holding up to modern standards (even in the “retro” world). However, there are still a few people out there that get a kick out of some of the Intellivision’s better games. Intellivision Lives! offers a wealth of titles that will keep Intellivision enthusiasts busy for a while. Unfortunately, there are no licensed titles or any third party software lurking within the 60 included titles. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Burgertime, Microsurgeon, Masters of the Univerese, Zaxxon, Tron are all missing.

The Games
Intellivision Lives! features a rather large number of titles, so I won’t list them all here. But the complilation does include a number of the best Intellivision games such as

Conversion Quality: Excellent
The emulation runs wonderfully on the XBox hardware, offering the same graphics and sound of the more than sixty games from the Intellivision library. Unfortunately, regardless if the gameplay can or cannot hold up to today’s standards, the XBox’s controller absolutely cannot represent the complex Intellivision controller, and many games in this compilation are absolutely unplayable because the shortcuts for keypad presses on the controller are no substitute for the real thing.

Price Point: $6
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Smaller Retro Compilations

17 Comments

  1. jeffx says:

    I have most of these for the PS2, with Taito Legends 2 being my favorite (so many SHMUPs!) Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Sonic Mega Collection Plus (on the PS2 at least) requires an AWFUL lot of steps to unlock the extra games. For example, playing all the games 50 times EACH to unlock Comix Zone. I think you should at least mention that!

  2. Timerever says:

    “Taito Legends 2:

    [blah, blah, blah]

    Conversion Quality: Excellent”

    I have this compilation for Xbox, and you saying the quality conversion is excelent just bogs my mind. This compilation has no screen options other than resize, you can’t Tate the vertical shmups so you’re foreced to play them with these huge side blackbars, the only option to ‘fix’ this is stretch the screen to fit the TV leaving you with a completely distorted game. This makes every vertical shmup on this compilation unplayble.
    Still on the screen resize option there is no indication of the texture mapping resolution.

    You can’t choose what hardware filter to use or disable filtering and the games are forced to run on flicker filter level 5 just like any Xbox game dispite this being old 2D games that benefict from disabled flicker filter.

    The sound of the games and menus aren’t normalized, the menu chimes are very lound while the game sound emulation volume is quite low (Darius Gaiden being a perfect example of this)

    To make things worse there is a emulation problem on Elevator Action Returns that indicates without doubt this compilation is nothing more than stolen MAME code (even the filenames of the ROMs are exactly the same as MAME ROMset), this because there is no source code of this compilation anyhere and the GPL license (MAME is GPLed) requires it. So not only this is a crappy nearly useless compilation it’s also illegal, unless Taito made a deal with the countless coders that contributed to the MAME code tree………. yeah right.

    Therefor if you say this compilation is somehow excellent I can’t only assume that every other compilation mentioned is as ‘excelent’ as this one.

    Moral of the story? Never buy any compilation whatsoever unless there are no PC emulators already doing the job, these are nothing more than crappy badly coded emulators that game companies create to do a quick buck.

  3. racketboy says:

    Well, if you read my comment, you would have seen that I was only going by what reviews I read of it. I’ll change the rating accordingly based on your comments.

    Thanks!

  4. NioZero says:

    you almost forgot games for another console… like Gamecube,

    examples:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_Gems_Collection

    Games:
    ======
    * Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega CD, port of the PC version, ported by Sonic Team)
    * Sonic the Fighters (Arcade, ported by Sega-AM2)
    * Sonic R (Sega Saturn, port of the PC version, ported by Traveller’s Tales)

    The collection also includes the six Game Gear games that were absent in Sonic Mega Collection Plus, which are:

    * Sonic the Hedgehog 2
    * Sonic Spinball
    * Sonic Triple Trouble
    * Sonic Drift 2
    * Tails’ Skypatrol
    * Tails Adventure

    The two only unlockable games in all 3 regions are:

    * Vectorman
    * Vectorman 2

    The other four unlockable games are only in the Japanese version are:

    * Bonanza Bros.
    * Streets of Rage
    * Streets of Rage 2
    * Streets of Rage 3

  5. claudio says:

    he didnt forget other consoles, he just wanted to focus on the xbox

  6. racketboy says:

    Correct — I did a piece on the Gamecube a little while back:
    http://www.racketboy.com/retro/2007/05/best-gamecube-compilations.html

  7. Laner says:

    RE: Namco 50th Anniversary – this version has *much* more accurate emulation than the older Namco Museum. Yeah, the arrangement modes are nice to have, but the classic ports are very shoddily done in comparison to the 50th Anniversary versions.

  8. d says:

    Another great article. Do one for ps2 please. I think this is the only site that does articles like this. Awesome. Did you ever contribute for a magazine?
    Probably only the Sega compilations ever had progressive modes (non flicker and no filters)

  9. racketboy says:

    Laner, what in particular was superior in the 50th pack?

    d, a PS2 version will be in store. And no, I haven’t written for a magazine or anything. This is it 🙂

  10. Great article although you should have talked about SFA Anthology as its such a wicked compilation. Loving it to death on the PS2.

    I’m looking forward to a PS2 article as well. Keep them coming.

  11. racketboy says:

    I don’t believe the SFA Anthology was released on the XBox – PS2 only…

  12. bob says:

    Just FYI, I have Taito Legends 2 PAL, and it plays fine on my American Xbox.

  13. bob says:

    oops, I meant _unmodded_ American Xbox

  14. Pac-Man Addict says:

    Namco Museum Anniversary is wonderful for emulation quality.

    I did a test of Ms. Pac-Man and found sound and graphics glitches intact.

    On Ms. Pac-Man strawberry stage, you can go through the blue ghost (inky), this is a way I’ve been able to judge the ‘authenticity’ of the emulation.

    There is no vertical orientation option like playstation 1’s namco museum (I wish there was). These vertical games look very nice when you can rotate the screen/crt television.