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There seems to be a law of diminishing returns operating in the world of retrogaming.

As publishers realise the lucrative nature of the market - in Japan at least - releases are getting less and less generous. After Namco's six-games-at-a-time Museum discs full of classics, both the quality and quantity of new retro packages is downsizing dramatically. Irem Arcade Classics is a perfect example.

Edge reckons that if you were to stop anything up to 25,000 game players in the street and ask them to name an Irem arcade classic, the first (and quite possibly only) name you'd hear from every single one would be R-Type. The ground-breaking shoot-'em-up, however, doesn't feature on this collection, making way for Spartan X, 10-Yard Fight and Zippy Race, all three of which were often known to make gamers exclaim, "What? Zippy who? Eh?"

Spartan X is the only game which most UK gamers are likely to recall, albeit under a different title (Kung Fu Master). The grandfather of the scrolling beat-'em-up genre which became popular with the likes of Final Fight, Spartan X is a fast-moving and very tough reaction-tester of which very little is said when it's revealed to be the best game here.

10-Yard Fight was the first real coin-op American Football game and the combination of a first attempt, the restrictions of arcade controllers and the outrageous dullness of the sport itself makes the game every bit as forgettable as you might imagine.

Zippy Race is a strange motorbike road racer, viewed from overhead until an entirely gratuitous and rather tatty-looking into-the-screen section at the end of each stage. Later things get a bit more interesting on dirt tracks strewn with rubble, obstacles, jumps and tempting bonuses, but it's sluggish and superficial.

All the games come with all the coin-op dipswitch options and so on (rather more elegantly implemented than the Namco titles), but there's no background, no history and very little to set Irem Arcade Classics out as anything other than a curio, for collectors only.

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