People who follow SNK likely know the name Athena. The heroine has appeared so often, she could practically be considered a mascot. A precursor to the modern Athena Asamiya appeared in Athena, and Psycho Soldier brings in the pop star who has found a place for herself in many games, like The King of Fighters series. This action game gives us a chance to see her roots, enjoy a style of play that holds up well and has some modern conveniences packed in, and savor its notable soundtrack.
Psycho Soldier follows Athena Asamiya and Sie Kensou as they use their psychic abilities to defeat monsters rising from deep within the Earth. Each one has innate powers, which can change and vary depending on how many orbs they have around them and their energy levels. They even have transformations that can be triggered, turning Athena into a phoenix and Kensou into a dragon. It is very much much about bashing your way through and attempting to collect power-ups, while occasionally catching clips of the soundtrack that actually has vocals. I had actually never played Psycho Soldier outside of this compilation, and I was astonished to hear the music and how it differed between the Japanese and English versions of the game. (Both regions’ versions are present here.)
The basic options SNK 40th Anniversary Collection offers for Psycho Soldier are pretty great. People can choose a difficulty level from Easy to Hardest. You can choose three or five lives and determine at what point levels additional lives are earned. You can turn continues on and off, and controls can be adjusted. You know, all the basic niceties you would expect from a version of this game in this sort of compilations. You can generally make it look a little better. Since it can help alleviate some worries, it allows you to focus on enjoying everything Psycho Soldier.
The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection convenience features really help make Psycho Soldier even easier to learn. If you kick off the adventure, you can use the rewind feature at any time. This is a game where it is very easy to avoid a misstep with a press of a button, since enemy projectiles remain the same and you can quickly see where you should have gone. With the Watch feature, someone can watch a playthrough of the game and jump in when they would like, playing from that point. It is a good way to appreciate the music, which is generally good, and the character designs.
As to be expected from SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, it has plenty of Museum features people might appreciate. The original guidebook is in there. There are plenty of production notes and details, going over how Sie Kensou is the Japanese spelling of “Sequence.” It notes that Athena came with a cassette of the “Psycho Soldier Theme.” It is just full of interesting tidbits people might enjoy. Especially since the soundtrack, with the notable song, is there.
Going through Psycho Soldier is just this heartening experience, even now years later with the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. It was the first time we got to see Athena, the one who isn’t a goddess, and Kensou. It had a theme song with vocals, the first arcade game to do so. It has gameplay mechanics that still hold up, what with energy levels determining attacks and if the characters can transform. It is still this great game that Nintendo Switch owners can now have an easer time enjoying.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is immediately available on the Nintendo Switch in North America. It will come to Europe on November 16, 2018.