Double Dragon and Kunio Kun Collection (Sniper)
Genre: Compilation
Developer: Million Co., Ltd.
Publisher: Arc System Works

To this reviewer's eye, Famicom games have always looked a bit like EGA DOS titles, with fancy scrolling capabilities bolted on. The Kunio games' garish NES purples and greens are put to good use, and all of the titles feature-- oftentimes large-- scrolling playing fields. They won't blow anyone away technically, but their strongest point is just how much personality is infused into the big-headed sprites of Kunio and the fellow inhabitants of his fictitious universe: the art style is absolutely iconic. This collection even cleans up sprite flickering, and wraps the whole experience in a Famicom-color themed user interface.

In working through the titles in this collection, it becomes obvious that the Technos games universally have silky smooth, catchy melodies, no matter which composer was involved with any specific release. Who can forget the title screen theme for "Double Dragon"? What about the ethnic motifs in "Super Dodge Ball"? Or the shop song in "River City Ransom"? Just like with the graphics, there is no Tim Follin technical wizardry with the compositions: just good, solid, memorable melodies, which make good use of the sound chip's channels. Ditto for the sound effects: they get the job done, and add charm beside.

Old games are extremely sensitive to latency, and this collection does a phenomenal job of making the controls feel very responsive. Being a descendant of the Famicom controller, the Switch control scheme translates perfectly, with "Y" and "X" being used for "Select" and "Start", respectively. Multiple slots are available for save states for each game. There is no "rewind" feature, but it's not any kind of crucial absence. There is a well-done TV scanline option with strength and "softness" adjustments. Playing these games with up to four people in local multiplayer is just as fun now as it was in the late 80s: this collection is the perfect way to experience these titles.

Technos was like the Japanese equivalent of The Oliver Twins: both cranked out huge volumes of games; both had an immediately recognizable aesthetic style; both put their distinct touch on a huge number of different genres; both relied on outside help to port their games to a wide variety of platforms; both continued working on aging 8-bit hardware, even when much of the rest of the world had moved on. As for this collection itself, it does a fantastic job of providing the overall Technos flavor, being both broad and focused in just the right ways.

Sniper's verdict: