Depending on your opinions about older video games, the abundance of arcade anthologies currently available is either a shameless excuse to make money by putting old crap on new discs or a brilliant way to play piles and piles of out of print or rare games on a budget. Since I’m strictly a member of the second category, I was very excited to play Sega’s new compilation, Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack. However, the fact that the game’s title takes longer to say than it takes to see all of the content in the two included on-rails shooters does serious harm to its standing in comparison to many of the other arcade anthologies on the market.
The most prominent reason as to why Arcade Hits Pack can be beaten so quickly is its gameplay. In both Gunblade NY and LA Machineguns, all you do is shoot stuff. You don’t move your character, you don’t reload your ammunition, and you certainly don’t worry about any obstacles or subtle story elements. This is more evident in Gunblade NY, where there isn’t even any technique required as you shoot everything you can place your crosshairs over. As the newer of the two titles, L.A. Machineguns adds a score-boosting combo system and civilians that you have to avoid as you go on your cyborg killing spree, though it doesn’t make as much of a difference in execution as it does on paper. Luckily, all of the shooting works perfectly, especially when using the Wii Zapper, so the ease of enacting the mayhem required by these games can’t be faulted. It would just be nice to a bit more variety in regards to the ability to explode everything.
Since this is a compilation of arcade games that date back over a decade, your tolerance for the graphics and sound will vary by your ability to put up with dated standards of presentation. Gunblade NY, which was made in 1995, definitely suffers from its age. The ultra-blocky and nearly texture free 3D graphics, which suffer from mild pop-up and the occasional foggy landscape, would have looked awesome on a PS1. On the Wii, however, they don’t hold up very well. LA Machineguns, however, is much prettier, with improved graphics and an abundance of flying mechs that make it look like a really extreme version of the Dreamcast Virtual On. It still doesn’t compete with modern graphical standards, but the way it looks won’t send gamers running by any means.
Though the graphical differences between the two games are very noticeable, their sound is nearly identical. Both games feature loud, synthesizer heavy music, the constant sound of explosions, the occasional screaming civilian, and, just in case you‘re unable to see missiles or explosions, the soothing sound of a woman informing you that your armed vehicle has just been damaged. It’s not by any means subtle, and after a while, it could all get very grating. Since the game is suited for short bursts of play, however, you likely won’t have to listen to it for long enough to get sick of it, meaning that for most gamers, it’ll just remind them of the sounds of whatever they were playing in 1997, which, at least for me, is sort of a plus.
With all of that said, one might think that Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack is the perfect title for trigger happy gamers with fond memories of playing shooting games at their local arcades. However, the fact that it’s possible to finish every mode in both games in far less time than it takes to complete Link‘s Crossbow Training prevents this from being true. It isn’t as if Sega hasn’t attempted to up the disc’s replay value. Aside from the inclusion of the co-op mode present in each arcade original, the Wi-Fi leader boards are a nice touch, adding a sense of arcade-style competition to the play-at-home title, and a survival-esque Score Attack mode on Gunblade NY is actually quite fun. Unlockable weapons and the chance to improve your in-game ranking also don’t hurt matters any. Still, even at thirty dollars, the price of the game is a bit steep for the hour of gaming you get, especially considering that similarly priced and cheaper arcade anthologies offer much more gameplay and variety. Since the games are fun to play and well preserved, Gunblade NY & L.A. Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack is well-worth a one-night rental, but only devoted fans of the originals or arcade enthusiasts should consider a full-price purchase.