Title  : Konami Collector'S Series: Arcade Advanced
Platforms  : Game Boy Advance
Publisher  : Konami
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 8.0
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Though the titular adjective may be "Advance", the new Game Boy is proving popular for reissues of older, classic titles. Konami throws their hat into the ring with Arcade Advanced, a collection of six legacy games. 

Unlike other collector editions which hide a gem or two among otherwise unheard-of games, Arcade Advanced compiles six relatively well-known games into one package: Frogger, Rush'n Attack, Gyruss, Time Pilot, Scramble, and Yie Ar Kung-Fu. 

Frogger answers the age-old question, "Why did the frog cross the road?" The screen scrolls vertically as players impel an amphibian to a safe haven across a busy freeway and danger-filled river. 

Rush'n Attack, an artifact of the Cold War, pits a lone solider against rushing armies. This game is similar to another Konami classic, Contra, except the heroes are armed with only hand-to-hand knives. Limited-use special weapons can be procured from enemy soldiers. 

Gyruss is a space shooter that doesn't restrict the player to the bottom of the screen, a la Space Invaders, but gives free range around all 360 degrees of the perimeter. The controls to spin from one compass position to another are not immediately intuitive, but players learn quickly. 

Time Pilot gives similar freedom of movement, but with the player locked into the middle of the screen. The not-very-futuristic fighter ship roams the endless skies in search of enemy aircraft, filling its quota of downed planes. 

Scramble, also known as Super Cobra, is a side-scrolling shooter with plenty of land-based enemies to bomb. Squeezing through tight corridors at the game's relentless pace can be the greatest challenge. 

Finally, Yie Ar Kung-Fu is a simple and forgettable 2D fighting game — a distant ancestor to Street Fighter and its kin — in which you punch and kick your way through a dozen opponents to claim ultimate victory. 

These games are essentially identical with their original appearances two decades ago. Konami has added a few bonus levels and additional features, but these extras do not affect the games' cores. 

One of the best new features is the ready availability of two-player modes. Four of the six games can be played with a friend by connecting two Game Boy Advance units. Only one game cartridge is necessary to access most of what these modes offer. Though the competition is sometimes as simplistic as aiming for a high score, it's still a fun way to share classic gameplay with a friend. 

Presentation has changed as little as the gameplay. Due to the dimensions of the handheld screen, the right portion is often distinct from the gameplay and is occupied with scores and other statistics, lending a more arcade-like feel to the presentation. 

Though the title themes may be familiar, several games have no background music, leaving the simple sound effects to fill the void. 

Games such as these six are ideal for quick gaming sessions. Though it's a sin to not be able to save each player's high scores and initials (this being a driving force for many gamers of the Eighties), the games themselves are easily renewed in round after round. If Konami had tried to bundle fewer or lesser games into this package, it may not have worked, but Arcade Advanced proves to be a satisfying step back.


This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 06-May-02