When the Japanese videogame developer Shin Nihon Kikaku was formed in 1978, few could have anticipated the huge impact it would have. With its name abbreviated to the much pithier SNK, the arrival of its Neo-Geo console and arcade system in 1990 ensured legendary status for both the company and its range of iconic characters and games. For lucky Antstream subscribers, we have a mind-blowing selection of classic SNK games, and today we take a look at five of our favourites that you can play right now on Antstream.
Metal Slug X
First up, we have the upgraded sequel to an old Antstream Arcade favourite. Metal Slug 2, released two years after the successful debut of Metal Slug, did the usual thing of adding more to its predecessor: more weapons, more vehicles and an increasingly bizarre array of devious baddies to tackle. Unfortunately, it all meant the technology often struggled to keep up with the action, causing SNK to release Metal Slug X the following year. Encased within a new engine, Metal Slug X plays smoother, quicker and throws even more weapons into the mix, all with the trademark wacky sense of humour.
Ant-Fact: New weapons include a homing missile called enemy chaser, super grenade and drop shot, in addition to more powerful versions of the normal weapons.
Ant-Tactic: After mission two, the player can collect food, making their character become a little on the portly side. This has the pleasant side-effect of making some of the heavier weapons even more powerful!
Also this week we have a slightly more realistic take on war with Nam-1975, a shoot-‘em-up set within the death throes of the Vietnam conflict. One of the launch titles for the Neo-Geo system back in 1990, Nam-1975 thrusts the player deep into enemy territory as they attempt to rescue an important scientist, the strangely-named Dr. R. Muckly. In a style popularised in video games such as Cabal, the Special Forces soldiers travel along the bottom of the screen as a legion of enemies assault them from above. Fortunately these are athletic chaps, and there are also grenades and more powerful weapons to pick up, making Nam-1975 a sure-fire hit for fans of furious – and rock-hard – retro shooting games.
Ant-Fact: Nam-1975’s final boss resembles a certain Sonic The Hedgehog villain, and is a notoriously difficult final enemy to defeat. You’ll need to pull all your gaming skills together to triumph here.
Ant-Tactic: Pulling diagonally while running makes your soldier perform a very helpful barrel roll, great for when the bullets are flying thick and fast.
Art Of Fighting 2
Here’s another sequel, this time the 1994 follow up to SNK’s marvellous Art Of Fighting. Set a year after the events of the first game, Art Of Fighting 2 begins with head bad guy Geese Howard (a notable criminal underworld boss) calling fighters together for yet another violent martial arts tournament. There's a bigger roster of characters and moves this time around, as well as a new ‘rage gauge’ that powers up each move and provides the energy for special psychic attacks. One of the finest fighting games around, Art Of Fighting 2 is brutal, gorgeous and fun, against the CPU or a friend.
Ant-Fact: Star of many of SNK’s King Of Fighters games, Yuri Sakazaki, is a playable character in Art Of Fighting 2.
Ant-Tactic: Quickly pressing towards your enemy twice will perform a dash attack; doing the same in the opposite direction will have them leap away from danger.
Here at Antstream Arcade we love a good brawler, so we couldn’t resist highlighting this fine example debuting this week. We are catapulted forward to the 2050s as two young fighters, Ricky Jones and Johnny Hart, take to the streets to clean up the wave of horrible mutants that have invaded their city. It’s all the work of a mad scientist and his egregious genetic virus, but there’s no time to worry about that – get out there and kick some mutie butt!
Ant-Fact: Fans of famous series such as Streets Of Rage and Final Fight will find much to admire here. In an alternate universe, maybe Mutation Nation would be just as well-known, but that doesn’t detract from the sheer enjoyment it offers.
Ant-Tactic: Special spheres can be collected and they engender a special attack on the player that picks them up. The most effective is the red ‘B’ sphere which allows you to unleash a deadly fireball.
King Of The Monsters
We conclude our first round-up of SNK games with this glorious beat-‘em-up from 1991. Taking its cue from the classic Godzilla monster movies of old, King Of The Monsters pitches various oversized fantastical creatures against each other, with a poor innocent city the back drop to their carefree destruction. While it’s not exactly the deepest of gaming experiences, the complete range of absurd characters on show (ranging from the Godzilla-esque Geon to a giant ape called Woo and Rocky, a golem made from boulders) cannot fail to entertain, coupled with the casual obliteration of the featured Japanese cities, all accompanied by some delightfully crunching sound effects.
Ant-Fact: King Of The Monsters was one of the most popular arcade games to feature on the Nickelodeon gaming show, Nick Arcade.
Ant-Tactic: Beware the environment around you, as some parts of it can electrocute the monsters.