Also On: PS4, PS5
Publisher: ININ Games
IREM is a company that had a nice legacy in the arcade. They made some truly great games in their day, which is why I was excited that they were releasing a five volume collection of many of their classic games. This one, IREM Collection Vol. 1, is small collection of the “Image Fight” shooters which came in many different forms, and all of them are included here.
For those unfamiliar with Image Fight / X Multiply, they are vertical/horizontal shooters designed to bring challenge as well as some hardcore frustration. You control a single ship and are up against an entire army of invading aliens. You move from level to level with everything on the screen trying to kill you. You can collect power ups like new weapons and speed ups to help you along, but they are few and far between. It will take a lot of skill and practice to get good at every game presented in this collection, but there are some interesting options included here that can help you out if your skills aren’t quite up to the challenge.
This collection begins with the first game, “Image Fight” and it’s many different versions that were released. You can play the Japanese or US versions of the Arcade Rom, The HuCard release for the PC Engine, and both the NES and Famicom Versions. All of them retain the same basic gameplay elements, but added features like rewind, infinite lives, and even straight up invincibility are all available to you for each of the games. The Arcade versions are exact right down to the difficulty while The NES and Famicom versions have very annoying sound effects and slower gameplay, but I do believe that this is accurate to the original releases. The PC Engine version is closer to the arcade original in terms of looks and gameplay, but seems to be the easiest of the different versions. All versions do play great, and offer a hardcore challenge if you don’t use any of the helper perks.
The next game is the PC Engine CD release “Image Fight 2”. This was never in the Arcade or any other platform. It still retains everything from the original CD release right down to the fantastic soundtrack. The game is completely in Japanese however, so the story and the animated cutscenes that play occasionally are left untranslated. Still, it’s a great game with simple yet absolutely challenging gameplay.
The final game included is “X-Multiply”. While still in the same family as Image Fight, it’s a sort of unofficial sequel to the first arcade release. This time the action is on a Horizontal plane with a unique powerup system. Your firepower is upgraded through the use of two extended arms that drag themselves around your ship and destroy enemies. You can control their movement by rotating the right analog stick but can’t really position them in a steady position without some skill. I spent a lot of time dying due to trying to control the arms and not watching where I was going. Both the US and Japanese Arcade ROMs are included here, but there isn’t much of a difference between the two.
Everything from the original games are carried over perfectly with this collection. All of the music and sound effects are exactly like their original counterparts and they play exactly the same. The inclusion of the helper modes are a nice touch, but they do take away from the original feel of the games slightly. Thankfully, you don’t have to use any of them unless you are curious. Personally, I used the Invincibility helper just to see some of the later levels, as the standard gameplay in all of these games can be absolutely unforgivable.
IREM is off to a great start with this five volume collection. If they continue in this fashion, we might be in for some really great classic games for the modern consoles. While the games included aren’t ground breaking or super flashy, they will bring the fun factor as well as that classic shooter frustration that makes you want to keep trying no matter how many times you die. Definitely a good collection.
Note: ININ provided us with a IREM Collection Vol. 1 code for review purposes.