Irem Collection Volume 1 (Switch) Review

Three great shmups but very little else.

I love retro collections. Not just for the sake of preservation, but because it means I can play some of my favourite older games on modern machines without the hassle. And if I can play them on the go, then even more power to them. Publisher Inin Games has been releasing quite a few classics repackaged as modern collections. Turrican, Cotton, and Pocky & Rocky are just some recent examples that have been given a new lease on life. Inin’s latest collection – Irem Collection Volume 1 – bundles together some more classics and even obscure titles from developer.

Irem are most prominently known for their R-Type series, which is still going strong today. But their catalogue of titles has far more gems – some of which you may know and others you probably won’t. The Irem Collection Volume 1 seeks to ratify that.

Irem Collection Volume 1 Games Included

Contained in this first volume are: Image Fight, Image Fight 2, and X Multiply. Admittedly, this first volume is a little low on content. Even with Image Fight offering both home and arcade versions, there are far fewer games here than Inin could have fit in.

Image Fight comes with the “World” and Japanese arcade versions, while NES, Famicon, and PC Engine versions round it out. Image Fight 2 was a Japanese-only release on the PC Engine Super CD-ROM, while X Multiply has only two flavours: the “Japanese” and “World” arcade editions. So while that is, technically, eight games, it’s still far fewer than we’ve seen in their other collections.

Image Fight and Image Fight 2 are top-down arcade shooters that require old-school memorisation and great reflexes to get through. Both are quite tactical to play and incredibly challenging, with the use of a very familiar pod weapon system bringing a lot of options to the table.

What felt most significant with this Image Fight re-release was the massive difference between each version, showcasing just how many cuts had to be done for the console port given the arcade board’s power at the time. Each version comes with noticeable changes as it heads up the console line, with the PC Engine version faring the best in the visual changes department. The core gameplay remains the same, but the visual differences are stunning. The arcade versions of Image Fight are by far the best on offer and still showcase some gorgeous 2D art today.

Image Fight 2 features the same basic mechanics and high difficulty as the first game. You fly up and down, left and right across the screen, avoiding waves of enemies and missiles, while grabbing power-ups that float into view – including those iconic pods to surround your ship with. In both games, you can control the pods shooting direction with the right stick or leave it at its default setting. The biggest addition to the formula in Image Fight 2 is an actual story and animated cut scenes which, unfortunately, weren’t given any English subtitles for this release.

X Multiply is my favourite game in this collection – probably because it’s the one closest to R-Type in design. It’s a side-scrolling shooter that plops you into a ship injected into the body of a colonist who has been infected by microscopic alien invaders. So there’s a lot of gooey body horror and creature design at play here. The most interesting mechanic is that your fighter’s major upgrade is a pair of tentacles on either side of your ship that shoot more projectiles while absorbing enemy fire. Unlike Image Fight or R-Type, X Multiply is much easier to get into and play.

Irem Collection Volume X Multiply

All three games benefit from the now standard quality-of-life additions. You’re looking at save and rewind states; original arcade and modern modes; quick switches to change difficulty and add more lives; invincibility and more continues – you know, the usual. Of course, there are also screen ratio changes from original to widescreen, along with wallpapers and CRT filters. New to this collection is the “Arcade Glow” CRT filter that emulates the glow and scan line look from arcade screens and it’s pretty damn awesome. If this doesn’t become a standard for arcade retro ports, I’ll cry havoc.

What is missing from this collection is the now de facto background material of behind-the-scenes documents, design plans, and artwork. Now while there’s nothing that says they have to be here, many retro collections include them as standard makes their absence here all the more disappointing.

Despite having relatively slim pickings and a lack of background material, the Irem Collection Volume 1 still packages three great games together, two of which offer a stiff challenge for shmup fans. It’s a great way to experience Irem’s older and less popular titles, but I do wish there was a little more meat on its bones.

Irem Collection Volume 1 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox One/Series S|X and PS4/PS5.

Irem Collection Volume 1 (Switch) Review

Irem Collection Volume 1 (Switch) Review
7 10 0 1
7/10
Total Score

The Good

  • The three shooters included are great
  • Awesome "Arcade Glow" filter
  • Impressively customisable

The Bad

  • No additional background material
  • Only three games makes this "collection" feel a little threadbare
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