Looking back at these compilations has revealed some fond memories that are sometimes best left at that. When I spotted the Imagine compilation, Konami's Arcade Collection on eBay and eagerly snapped it up, I remember thinking that it was a great compilation that I spent a lot of time playing it was first released. Unlike the similarly themed Taito Coin op Hits, however, this one doesn't quite deserve those rose-tinted spectacles...
I loved the arcade machine but avoided the Spectrum version first time round thanks to a mediocre review in Crash (think it was 68% from memory). It's a multi-platform beat 'em up and is actually really good and I can't quite understand why it didn't get a better score - maybe it just got lost amongst the Kung-fu games doing the rounds then. The controls are responsive and the action frantic.
Things soon take a turn for the worse on this compilation. Again, I greatly enjoyed the original, an entertaining twist on the common space shooter genre of the time. The Spectrum version, by Andrew Glaister was particularly poor on several levels; chiefly the collision detection was awful and the main character moved far too sluggishly. It's a shame because the graphics were ok, leaving me to churlishly suppose what legendary programmer Joffa Smith would have done with this conversion...
Everyone knows about Green Beret, but suffice to say at this point its constant appearance on compilations was starting to prove a bit tiresome. Still a hit though!
Yie Ar Kung Fu
Another compilation staple, YAKFu (as I liked to call it) saw you playing a character called Oolong, charged with defeating various baddies in one-on-one battles. It has its detractors, but I loved it, finding the variation of enemies entertaining, even though it lacked the complexity of, say, Way of the Exploding Fist - or WOTEF as I liked to call it....
Yie Ar Kung Fu II
Its sequel, however, was rubbish.
Another great game, but one I'd played to death already thanks to another compilation. The key element with Ping Pong was changing the arcade gameplay - the bat now tracked the ball automatically. Great fun, if a little limited by its very nature.
Joffa Smiff returns, in what many consider to be the finest multi-event sports game on the Speccy. It's certainly one of the best arcade conversions with a nice varied balance of events from timing and skill events such as Archery and Skeet Shooting, to keyboard mashers like weight lifting and swimming.
Now I know I said I liked some of the above arcade games, but Nemesis I LOVED. This was my shooter of choice in the arcades and I wince when I recall how many 10p pieces I must have stuffed feverishly into its coin slot. As a result I bought the Spectrum version before reading the Crash review, a mistake I never made again. Programmed, like Jail Break, by Konami themselves, you'd have thought they'd prepare a loving conversion. Instead we get a bastardized version with only one extra weapon available at a time, smaller levels and that old favourite flaw, awful collision detection. The game moves at a sluggish pace as well, meaning Nemesis was a huge disappointment to me. Sinclair User got in a lot of hot water over their review when it was subsequently revealed its screenshots had been, ahem, doctored.
Another marmite game, Mikie was a Crash Smash and despite an in-built natural resistance to its charms (I wanted to shoot aliens, not collect hearts!) I found it a playable and entertaining conversion.
I had never played the arcade game, but its pitch was clearly "Commando-in-a-jeep". The Spectrum version bears very little similarity to the arcade original in every major respect: the graphics, the gameplay, the sound and the level design are all different in varying degrees, making this one of the poorer Speccy arcade conversions.
So, on the surface of it not bad value, but the real truth is somewhat hidden by the above statistic. If you take the hits, many of them - Hypersports, Mikie, Ping Pong, Green Bert and Yie Ar Kung Fu had all been around for some time and already appeared on Imagine's previous Konami compilation, Konami's Coin op Hits. The newer games were all released on Konami's own label, and ironically this was when the quality disappeared down into the basement. We can only imagine wistfully what the talents of the legendary Jonathan 'Joffa' Smith would have done with Nemesis, Jail Break and Jackal.