Final Fantasy Anthology — Issue 42

Reach­ing a new audience

Chances are, if you’re think­ing about buy­ing this retro pack­age of Final Fan­ta­sy, you’ve already played at least one of the two games includ­ed. So, why buy this? Because the pack­ag­ing is the draw, and it’s a must-own if you like the Final Fan­ta­sy series.
Let’s start with the obvi­ous: Final Fan­ta­sy Anthol­o­gy does not have a lot of Final Fan­ta­sy games includ­ed. Two clas­sics with inter­est­ing and sto­ried back­grounds are here: Final Fan­ta­sy V and Final Fan­ta­sy VI. Until this release, Final Fan­ta­sy V had nev­er been trans­lat­ed and released in the U.S because it was deemed too hard for the mar­ket. Final Fan­ta­sy VI was released in the U.S. as Final Fan­ta­sy III. It was a crit­i­cal dar­ling in both mar­kets and is wide­ly regard­ed as one of the best retro-era Final Fan­ta­sy games and role-play­ing games ever. So, Square Enix putting these two games togeth­er in a pack­age would kill two birds with one stone: Good sales — near­ly a mil­lion copies sold — and intro­duc­tion of a “lost” game to the bare­ly tapped mar­ket. Square Enix suc­ceed­ed on both fronts.
Released in the U.S. and PAL regions, FF Anthol­o­gy fea­tures FFV and FFVI in full with new CG intro­duc­tion movies for both games. Although we have reviewed FFV pre­vi­ous­ly (see 2Q2010 issue), we have nev­er reviewed FFVI. Just know, how­ev­er, that both games are fan­tas­tic, with FFV as our choice to play in the pack­age. Both games have a deep sto­ry with mem­o­rable char­ac­ters that you come to know and love by the end of your adven­ture, and beau­ti­ful graph­ics and stun­ning sound­tracks. It’s a tes­ta­ment to the strong sto­ry­telling found in the retro FF era, and the pack­age is bet­ter for includ­ing these two games particularly.
Round­ing out the pack­age is the oth­er high­light: The includ­ed bonus sound­track CD. The sound­track fea­tures 22 of the best tracks from both games, with our favorites com­ing from the FFV por­tion. FFVI does have some bangers, also, so the sound­track is great addi­tion all around. 
What you should care about — and why you should buy this pack­age — is the fact that you’re get­ting the best of the 2D Final Fan­ta­sy games. Add in that sound­track CD, which is like a gate­way to FF music, and you have a good deal with in-depth game­play to boot. This is Square Enix at its best before it embraced the 3D era for its flag­ship role-play­ing series.

Samurai Shodown Anthology — 2Q2015 issue

A com­plete clas­sic collection

The fight­ing game indus­try has always thrived on the very con­cept that makes a title in the genre: com­pe­ti­tion. There have been fabled rivals through­out the entire lifes­pan of the genre, with quite a few pre­tenders to throne. How­ev­er, SNK Play­more was one of the orig­i­na­tors and the pack­age of games with­in Samu­rai Shodown Anthol­o­gy shows they weren’t play­ing around in the ’90s in the slightest.

It’s pret­ty safe to say that Samu­rai Shodown was nev­er a pre­tender. It’s got all the mark­ings of a mar­quee series, some­thing that could car­ry a com­pa­ny far in the worst of times and keep eyes on the prod­uct. At its core, it’s a game about samu­rai and oth­er war­riors fight­ing to the death. What sets it apart from the com­pe­ti­tion — even from with­in its own sta­ble with brethren King of Fight­ers — is its pro­duc­tion val­ues. The games have always been gor­geous and there’s a lev­el of detail that has­n’t been seen in oth­er series except for the likes of Tekken. With­in the col­lec­tion of that is Anthol­o­gy, all of the nat­u­ral­ly gor­geous art­work and lev­el of detail is on dis­play. It’s impor­tant that this be empha­sized because that’s what Samu­rai Shodown is about at the end of the day: Samu­rai fight­ing to the death while look­ing fantastic.

The lev­el of detail extends to the sound­track as well. In all games in the pack­age, the sound­track is an excel­lent con­cer­to of Japan­ese bam­boo flute and shamisen. This may not float your boat, but for a pack­age that focus­es on samu­rai, this is an excel­lent choice to make up the back­ing soundtrack.

Samu­rai Shodown Anthol­o­gy is per­fect col­lec­tion of fight­ing games, most­ly because it’s good to have the entire set of games on one disc with­out hav­ing to own infe­ri­or ver­sions of noto­ri­ous­ly arcade-per­fect games. These are exact­ly what you fell in love with in the arcade and they’re all in one place, lov­ing­ly includ­ed at the orig­i­nal def­i­n­i­tion. If you’ve nev­er expe­ri­enced the hype that was Samu­rai Shodown, now’s an excel­lent chance to do so. Pre­pared to be wowed.

2UP EVALUATION

Final­ly, a clas­sic game that start­ed the weapon-based fight­ing genre is back on the PlaySta­tion 2. For decades, SNK Play­more con­tin­ued this series with not one but six titles, empha­siz­ing Japan’s adap­tion of duels. Uti­liz­ing var­i­ous char­ac­ters and locales, Samu­rai Shodown gives gamers a break from the Tekken/Street Fight­er clones on the mar­ket, and shows a brief slice of life in medieval Japan dur­ing which samu­rai fought under the code of Bushido.

I was allowed for a brief moment to not only act out a samu­rai fan­ta­sy, but also to release any anger in a healthy way. While the mechan­ics take some prac­tice to become famil­iar with, the music, char­ac­ters and graph­ics are top-notch and the sto­ry is sim­ple. My only com­plaint is that there’s one cheap-shot char­ac­ter that loves to pounce. For all of the Soul­Cal­ibur clones flood­ing the mar­ket these days, I proud­ly say Samu­rai Shodown Anthol­o­gy has great replay val­ue, and it DEMANDS a space in any gamer’s library. I’m glad that SNK Play­more had the wis­dom to keep this series alive from the begin­ning, instead of a com­pa­ny that relies on milk­ing their cash cow to the bone. Well done, SNK Play­more. Well done.