Say what you will about the Neo Geo and how unapproachable it was for the majority of people, it had some kick ass games. And while most people will instantly recognize the big names like Namco, Taito, and SNK, Visco was also one of the most prolific developers for that platform, with a number of admittedly derivative but nonetheless great games.
Published by Brazil-based Qubyte, the Visco Collection houses seven of their best releases under a single package, one that lacks a bit in terms of historical material, much like some other compilations I checked out recently, but packs a punch when it comes to the variety and overall quality of the titles included.
Before diving into specifics, I’ll list the games that are in this collection. Ganryu, a very Shinobi-like action platformer, the decent side-scrolling shoot ‘em up Andro Dunos, Flip Shot and Bang Bead, both playing a whole lot like the excellent Windjammers but with half the personality, the Twinbee-like Captain Tomaday, the overhead isometric rally game Neo Drift Out, and of course, following up on the soccer spell that the Neo Geo seemed to be under, rounding up the cast is Goal! Goal! Goal!.
All of the games come in their original arcade forms and can be run either in their original aspect ratio or blown up to fill the screen. In terms of filter, there’s the option to turn on a CRT simulation that comes with moving scanlines, which honestly looks really cool. Outside of these options, there’s not much else to speak of since there’s only one themed border per game and you can’t turn those off, unfortunately.
On the other hand, a lot of the games include online play and if you can manage to grab a friend to play along with, they can be a lot of fun, as I was able to attest playing Goal! Goal! Goal!, Andro Dunos and the duo Flip Shot and Bang Bead locally. Sadly, for the purposes of reviewing the stability of multiplayer over the web, I was not able to find a single game going, nor did anyone join my lobbies. Bummer.
Now, the games that are included really are just about something for everyone that I alluded in the opening to this review. Your mileage may vary with them, but I can safely say there’s bound to be one that you’d like to stick to, like I did with a few of them. Neo Drift Out in particular is really neat in the way it plays due to the camera angle the devs decided to go with, making it a joy to tear through corners and make my way through a bunch of different courses around the world, driving off brand but totally recognizable cars.
Ganryu is another one I liked due to how close it is in gameplay to the Shinobi games, with a slight hint of Strider and Ninja Gaiden. In it you play as Musashi and his partner and slice through waves of green-blooded ninjas. It’s simple and straight to the point, making it a very easy to pick up and play action game.
I’m a fan of Windjammers and was happy to see its sequel off last year, and getting to see not only one but two games that are obviously based on SNK’s air hockey franchise really made me happy. Even though they are nowhere near as charming as their inspiration, the gameplay is tight, speedy and fun in Flip Shot and its sequel, Bang Bead.
It wouldn’t be a retro compilation without a shooter of some kind, and Visco Collection comes packed with not only one, but two, and they’re quite different from one another. Andro Dunos operates from left to right and you can use a whole bunch of power-ups. The gist to this one is that you can freely switch from three different attack styles and in order to fire special shots, you have to charge them up first, making them way more tactical than your usual shoot ‘em up.
Captain Tomaday looks and feels like a Twinbee game, wherein you fly from the bottom to the top of the screen while fending off all sorts of vegetable-based enemies. As a tomato yourself, you punch your way forward and are able to pick up power-ups that can be hit in order to grow stronger, which is where its derivation comes from, along with the overall colorful design of the game.
Then comes Goal! Goal! Goal!. Now, if you aren’t from a soccer-loving country like me, you probably were not aware of just how big the sport was during the Neo Geo days as it permeated its library like no other sport. This one plays a whole lot like the others, which is to say surprisingly well. It’s very intuitive and easy to play – just don’t come into this expecting the same amount of depth seen in modern sims like EA and Konami’s offerings as you won’t find it in this two-button footie game.
While not as known and loved as the competition in the arcade space, there’s much to be said about the quality and fun factor of Visco’s releases during the latter half of the arcade golden days. The handful of inclusions in this collection highlight the company’s efforts in trying to bring their own spin to established genres, and even though they pale somewhat in comparison in terms of personality, they are very well put together and are definitely worth having in your retro collection.