It’s easy to forget that Blizzard was cranking out 16-bit games before becoming a household name with the Diablo series. Not content to let those classics sit in a vault until the end of time, the Blizzard Arcade Collection brings a trio of beloved games to modern platforms. It promises a hefty amount of options and bonus content, so what could go wrong? From my time with the collection, the answer is “a lot.” But the question stands: is it worth it?
You have three bundle options when it comes to purchasing the Blizzard Arcade Collection on PC. The Collection is only available for purchase on Battle.net and the base $20 version includes the game plus some Blizzard bonuses. The other two versions have an even greater myriad of goodies you can obtain for other Blizzard games, such as Overwatch, Diablo III, and World of Warcraft. The most expensive of these is $60. Which you’ll prefer depends on how much you want the extra bits, if you want any of it at all.
Once you start up the Blizzard Arcade Collection, you’re greeted with four immediate choices. You can choose between bonus features such as artwork or interviews related to each game, or the games themselves. The three titles included here are Rock ‘n Roll Racing, The Lost Vikings, and Blackthorne. Each of the three games supposedly has three versions included. All three were also free on PC prior to the collection taking shape. Swell.
The first two games have definitive editions with extra features, plus their SNES and Genesis versions. For instance, The Lost Vikings definitive version has all of the extra levels and content that you could only get from playing both console versions. Rock ‘n Roll Racing also has CD-quality music in its definitive version. Blackthorne is similar, but it includes the 16 and 32-bit versions of the game. The definitive edition also has an auto-map feature included.
You’ll notice I said “supposedly” in regard to the three versions, though. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I couldn’t get anything other than the definitive versions to work. Attempting to play the other two simply resulted in a glitchy video that I couldn’t interact with. Similarly, trying to watch the included playthroughs of the games did the same thing. This continues with the bonus content, as I wasn’t able to watch any of the interviews either. I’m not sure how to fix any of this and will add an update if I figure out how.
That enormous issue wasn’t my only problem, however. The controls for Blizzard Arcade Collection are kind of broken on a DualShock 4. Using DS4Windows made no difference either. Buttons are all swapped around, making everything more cumbersome than need be. Thankfully, you can remap the controls, save for the start button, which immediately cancels the remap. Oops. The PC version, so far, needs a lot of work. I can’t find any information regards to other people experiencing these issues, though. It might just be me, but I doubt that.
Lost in the 90s
Since I could only play the definitive versions of the game, that’s all I’ll be able to talk about here. Rock ‘n Roll Racing is obviously the most unnecessary of the collection’s inclusions. It’s an isometric 2D racer where you drive around in circles. You pick a racer, buy a car with some starting funds, and then drive around in circles until you complete laps. Honestly, I don’t see much reason for this game to be here outside of purely nostalgic purposes and the fact that they already had it on the platform. It’s functional and as playable as it ever was, but it’s so utterly simple that I find it unlikely that any new players will get much enjoyment out of it.
The other two fare much better. The Lost Vikings is, of course, a puzzle game with action and platforming elements where you take control of three Vikings who are stuck in space. One can jump and dash into breakable walls, another uses a shield to blocks shots and provide a platform for the jumpy one. The last Viking has a sword and bow that’s used in fights and to hit switches. This game has multiplayer that took me back to simpler times when I was too young to understand how it worked. The Lost Vikings’ held up rather well, all things considered, with clever gameplay and solid controls. It’s probably the most innately playable of the three. There are also items to collect and you can swap between the three characters at will. Although they can die fairly easily.
My favorite game, however, is Blackthorne. It’s a cinematic platformer similar in feel to Prince of Persia or Flashback. The controls of all of those games have aged like cheese, sure. The inputs are highly rigid and borderline obnoxious. Even the slightest mistakes are punished horribly, but this one was always a standout to me. Your character, a prince attempting to return to his home after 20 years, can run, jump, and climb ledges. He also has a shotgun with infinite ammo that can be pulled out of nowhere, allowing him to shoot in front of and behind him in classic nonchalant ’90s fashion.
Much like The Lost Vikings, there are items to pick up, although they’re used more intuitively here. You can throw bombs to blow open doors and use potions. One of my favorite features is that you can press up while holding the shotgun to take cover, which makes you immune to all forms of damage. It’s a great game and I’d really like to play the 32-bit version if anyone can ever be bothered to fix the Blizzard Arcade Collection.
The Blizzard Arcade Collection probably should have chosen a different game instead of Rock ‘n Roll Racing, but at least the other two are great. The Lost Vikings II might have been a better bet, but that ship has sailed. Pun very much intended. Each game includes save states, which is especially nice for the two games that aren‘t about driving in circles. Plus having the definitive versions of The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne is undoubtedly a great reason to make the purchase. But since I (and probably you) can’t use the vast majority of the content, then it’s not worth it. That and the fact that Blizzard had been giving away these three games for free since 2013, so them selling them all of a sudden is a little insulting. Okay, a little insulting.