Irem Collection Volume 1 (PS4) Review with stream

ININ, Tozai Games, and Ratalaika Games have released the Irem Collection Volume 1 on Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox. Composed of three classic shooters and retailing for $25, this product-of-its-time compilation will kick your behind with its fun but brutal difficulty.

The compilation is composted of Image Fight (NES, FC, PCE, Arcade), Image Fight II (PCE-CD), and X Multiply. Personally, I only had limited experience with the NES version of Image Fight so I was curious to learn about this series. While I am thankful for this gaming history lesson, as it easily bundles all these forgotten shmups into one package, it sorely lacks options and detail seen in other historical compilations like the Making Of Karataka. It is interesting to see how each version has been converted from the arcade original though. The NES version of Image Fight, for example, carries an easier difficulty with is chunkier sprite work in comparison to the quarter munching nature of the arcade version while retaining the enemy behaviors, overall level design, and boss battles. It is rather impressive to see how each version compensated to the strengths and weaknesses of each console but still kept the overall feel the same.

To quickly summarize, Image Fight and its sequel are vertical shooters that utilize accompanying pods to boost fire power. These symbiotes can launch more bullets at the enemy or can be told to propel forward, leaving you more prone to attack. X Multiply essentially carries similar gameplay but with a side-scrolling perspective and those pods are placed on wacky wavy arms. It is easy to see the R-Type influence as the gross, organic matter found in many stages looks like your tiny ship is navigating intestines mixed with some occasional plant material.

This Collection carries the same exact overall interface, feature set, and style as previously released Ratalaika tiles. Meaning, the easy-to-use menu system is the same and the included extras are virtually identical from their other retro re-releases. While it gets the job done, I was hoping for a little more in this package, mostly due to the insane difficulty factor of each shooter.

For example, save states are included but only in the mode that doesn’t unlock Achievements (or Trophies if playing the PS version). The border options are limited and there is no historical context included, meaning, there are no instruction manual scans, no viewable box art, or no design documents. These are just essentially just the roms dumped into one package, glued together with one main menu interface. The emulation is good, with no flicker or slow down, but the included invincibility mode, a most welcomed feature, again, can only be activated when playing the casual “no Achievements” mode. Also, there is no option to decrease the volume in-game. Like so many games these days, the default volume setting is so loud, making it difficult for streamers.

However, there is a rewind feature (thank God) which is available during the main mode – the mode that unlocks Achievements. Make no mistake, even with rewind, these games are still impossibly hard. In fact, I still couldn’t beat a couple games milking the rewind feature to death. The one-hit kills are a product of its time and I personally hate when you take damage when bumping into parts of the environment. In other words, everything is out to kill you and kill you it will. It was more tolerable nearly three decades ago but will test some patience when compared against the modern gaming landscape.

The three shooters in this compilation are fun, but there is no understating their difficulty. Honestly, if the rewind feature was not implemented, these shmups would probably go ignored. While I wish there were more features and historical documentation included, a collection like this still comes recommended especially if you are a fan of the genre or are interested in experiencing neglected shooters of the past.

An Irem Collection Volume 3 has already been announced so keep your eye out for these future compilations. Also, can’t help but feel a little short changed that these historical shooters are split between multiple compilations instead of one complete package.

SCORE: 6/10

Also Play: Ray’z Arcade Chronology

For More Punishment Play: Turrican Anthology

Don’t Forget About: Rolling Gunner  

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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