Konami Arcade Collection

Authentic right down to the printed circuitboard

Japan Import: Three words: Track & Field. The pat-pat-pat of pixelated feet, the tyres-on-gravel 'roar' of the crowd, the throaty rasp of that robotic ladyvoice ("The time: eleven point sheroshero shecondsh")... there's something quite magical about this rarely-rereleased seaside arcade mainstay blurping and bleeping from the DS screen.

And seeing it - and Shaolin Road, and Twin Bee, and Circus Charlie - is a happy sign that Konami have ditched whichever marketing exec it was who slapped his palms down on the table at every meeting and barked, "JUST KEEP REISSUING FROGGER!" at the terrified programmers through his boiling red face. That's not to say this is a particularly filling cheeseboard of mature cheddars - you only get 15 games, with some frankly upsetting omissions.2 But, notwithstanding the NES and MSX titles that they're probably saving for Wii's Virtual Console, this isn't a bad roundup of the hulking machines with the old curly-K Konami logo you'd have found in '80s chipshops.

And it's got a 'Maniac' button on the touch screen. What this does is switch to a screenful of options that proves the team behind Arcade Collection really loves its retro. Record, save and Wi-Fi-transfer replays? Sublime. Alter gameplay features by actually flipping circuitboard switches with the stylus? Ridiculous. Screen ratios can be changed. High scores are saved. Buttons can - hallelujah! - be remapped, and even set to varying rates of autofire. Game runthroughs can be loaded and watched, showing exactly which buttons to press when. The cart's practically wet with nostalgic love and care from the Konami team.

You'll probably know already if the full list of dusty gems - which includes timeless space-'em-up Scramble; cutsie-pie shooter Pooyan; mazey snake-dodger Tutankham and a few other less memorable titles - are enough to make your wallet flip open under the sheer force of nostalgia. But - £15 for a quality chunk of how-things-used-to-be (eBay in the US version, because it'll work on a UK DS)?

Single-cart co-op that makes for one of DS's best multiplayer experiences? We can't help but recommend it to all. Plus: seeing these games anew on the blazing bright DS Lite screen is like watching your first ever sunset. Sniffle.

The verdict

Has more love in its bones than Konami's usual dead-horse-floggers - and it's great value at the current dollar-pound exchange rate.

Nintendo DS