Review: Irem Collection vol. 1 is a no frills compilation of overlooked classics 

irem collection vol 1

Honestly, I can’t call myself a shoot ‘em up aficionado in any way, but I do enjoy them from time to time. When I first heard about the Irem Collection being brought out by Inin Games and Tozai Games, it certainly drew a blank as I have never heard of any of the titles included in it.

Then again, I was glad to try them out. The three games in this compilation are 1988’s Image Fight, its 1992 sequel (this one for the first time outside of Japan), and a spin-off released in 1989 called X Multiply

All of them come packed with extra features such as dip switches, cheats and a bevy of graphical tweaks, as we’re all used to seeing in other collections. Image Fight includes a few different versions of the game, with the arcade variation and two home console ports, both on the NES/Famicom and PC Engine, while the other two are strictly arcade affairs. 

What’s most fascinating about getting to see all its iterations is the chance to witness how the different developers treated the transition between platforms, taking into account their limitations and strengths. I was particularly shocked to see how well Image Fight plays on the NES, for as much simpler as it looks when compared to others, but at the same time leaving the core feel of the game intact.

irem collection vol 1

Both Image Fight 1 and 2 are incredibly approachable shooters with an expectedly overblown arsenal of weapons at your disposal. What I liked most about them is their sheer number of power-ups the player’s ship can carry at once, and how wide the coverage is for them simultaneously.

As overhead shooters, they play pretty much as you’d expect, offering around 40 to 50 minutes gameplay time total from start to end, although that total can be multiplied exponentially, of course, by your skills in beating them. With that in mind, I found them to be way more manageable than your usual shoot ‘em up, especially due to the aforementioned amount of power-ups that can activate at once.

X Multiply, though, is another beast entirely. For starters, it plays as a sidescroller instead of overhead, much like Taito’s Defender. It brings a similar sense of style and design as the other games in the collection, but somehow manages to be its own thing, and for that I’m glad that it was included in this compilation.

Outside of the games, however, there is very little to see in Irem Collection vol. 1, since it does not include any form of historical archive or museum feature, which is a shame. I would’ve loved to see more details about the history of these games, which up to now I had no idea existed.

irem collection vol 1
The NES version of Image Fight is impressively faithful!

Other collections such as the now legendary SNK 40th Anniversary Collection shone brighter than the rest because it was one of the first to include a comprehensive list of features that included lots of design files, rough sketches, and promotional material for the games that it was composed of, adding a whole bunch of value to it.

Sadly, Irem Collection Vol. 1 is decidedly no frills about how it delivers its games, a lot like, say, the Turrican compilations from last year, also handled by Ini Games. Surely, they all deliver something on the game front, but some extra love would’ve come a long way in making it a definite purchase. 

For what it is, this is a good pick-up for shooter enthusiasts looking to add more games to their collections, but for anyone looking to have more for their buck in terms of historical content will find themselves drifting in the silence of deep space.

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