Japanese company Sunsoft was a pretty big deal back in the 8 and 16-bit days, publishing many popular titles across the NES, SNES, Game Boy and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive. However, it was one of those firms that struggled to transition into the world of 32- and 64-bit gaming, a misstep that forced it to shutter its Western offices and focus on the Japanese market.
However, Sunsoft has managed to endure and remains in business today – and one of the ways it's keeping the lights on is by leveraging its enviable library of classic games via licenced products, such as Sunsoft Collection 1 on the Evercade. This pack includes six games: Mr. Gimmick (NES), Blaster Master (NES), Blaster Master Boy (Game Boy), Aero the Acro-Bat (SNES), Journey To Silius (NES) and Arabian (NES).
Blaster Master will need no introduction – it's one of Sunsoft's most beloved titles and is one of the earliest examples of a non-linear action platformer that encourages the player to return to previous levels. This is one of the best games on the NES – and, therefore, a very welcome addition to this pack. Sticking with Blaster Master, you also get the handheld spin-off Blaster Master Boy (AKA Blaster Master Jr. / Bomber King: Scenario 2). Despite the name, this is actually a sequel to Bomberman spin-off RoboWarrior, and has simply had the Blaster Master name slapped on top. It's fun enough, but hardly essential.
Mr. Gimmick's inclusion is neat simply because the game is so hard to purchase in physical form on the NES – its only release outside of Japan was in Scandinavia. It's brutally difficult in places but boasts amazing visuals and some absolutely wonderful music.
Journey to Silius was supposed to be a Terminator video game, but Sunsoft's licencing deal fell through. It's a workmanlike run-and-gun blaster with some excellent music and is ripe for rediscovery as part of this pack. The Iguana Entertainment-developed mascot platformer Aero the Acro-Bat is another title that many might not be familiar with and was Sunsoft's attempt to muscle in on Mario and Sonic's territory. Despite some nice ideas, it never comes close to matching the games of those two characters.
That leaves Arabian, which is, in fact, Super Arabian, a Japan-only Famicom release. It's a single-screen platform game where the player has to collect magic pots in the correct order while avoiding enemies. It's fun in short bursts but is hardly likely to inspire many people to pick up this collection on its own – despite the fact that this marks its Western debut in physical form.
While it's a shame that Sunsoft's Batman games don't make the cut (the license has long since expired on those) – and we'd have liked to see a few more games included – Sunsoft Collection 1 has just enough quality to make it a worthwhile investment, and we hope to see many more Evercade packs from the company.