Almost every major publisher has at least one retro compilation to its name, and unfortunately most either completely misrepresent the games they attempt to reproduce or succeed in replicating perfect clones of the originals, only to remind you of how badly time has treated the classics of yesteryear.
Sadly EA Replay falls into the latter, but if any of the titles included from EA's early nineties golden era hold a special place in your heart, and you squint hard enough through your rose-tinted glasses, there is certainly something to be gained from the release.
Every port from 16-Bit era to the PSP is pixel perfect, especially if you switch the screen from 16:9 to 4:3, and is joined by a host of well-produced but essentially pointless DVD-style extras. The addition of a mid-game save option might be enough to tempt some back to a particular title, but unless you are an avid fan of a certain release, there are more comprehensive retro compilations with better games on the market.
The best of the antiquated titles on offer is the duo of helicopter action games Desert Strike and Jungle Strike. Both charge you with piloting a heavily armoured military helicopter in a series of missions to defeat stereotypical terrorist madmen and save the world.
From the isometric perspective you must cruise above the ground dodging terrain, destroying enemy vehicles and buildings, and protecting American strongholds. The need to replenish fuel and ammunitions and rescue allied foot soldiers brings a simple strategy element to the game, which gently hints at a very early GTA, and both releases are undeniably addictive and playable.
The Roadrash trilogy are the other titles most likely to attract PSP owners looking to escape to their past, but despite being fantastic at the time, playing any of the combat superbike racing games now is thoroughly disappointing. You can't help but imagine that it was only the technological impact that was so impressive at the time. 15 years later all three Roadrash games are laughably bad, and one race on each will wipe the warm grin right of your face.
In terms of their role in the history of gaming, Wing Commander and sequel Wing Commander: Secret Missions are certainly noteworthy inclusions in EA Replay. The 3D space combat game was groundbreaking at the time, but just like Roadrash, Wing Commander simply loses its appeal when you take away the excitement its primitive wire-frame graphics caused at the time. It also looses a great deal on the small screen, and while it is still worth owning on the PC as a footnote from the history of the video game, it is just too fiddly and uncomfortable to be worth struggling with on the PSP.
Another release that many readers will remember well is Virtual Pinball. In a valiant attempt to reinvent the classic table game, Virtual Pinball completely changes the pinball layout, adding in plenty of extra flippers, doubling the width of the play area and throwing in Breakout-style destructible blocks. While the Geiger inspired artwork still holds its own today, the game is nowhere near responsive enough, and frankly, pinball isn't broken and doesn't need fixing or reinventing. The level design tool may have been impressive in the early nineties, but by today's standard the tool is far too primitive to be of interest and can only ever really be used to create aesthetically different versions of the fairly awful tables already on offer.
Next up is Syndicate. The dark, sci-fi noir thriller, was overshadowed upon its release by the more casual point 'n' click shooter, Cannon Fodder, despite critical acclaim and reasonable commercial success. Nevertheless, it is a great little strategy shooter to return to if you enjoyed it at the time. Again, it feels a little clunky and ancient by today's standards but, though taken alone it is not reason enough to invest in EA Replay, it could be the deal breaker if you are already tempted by the Strike games.
B.O.B is the only other game out of the 14 included that will be worth playing again for those who remember it fondly. It is a fairly standard 2D platformer that only really stands out thanks to some charming animation and boisterous character. It is a reasonably typical game from the period, and you will likely have experienced all it has to offer a dozen times before, but its run, jump and shoot recipe marks a definitive style and era for the platform game.
Martial arts beat-'em-up Budokan is an odd choice for the compilation as it felt fairly dated and slow at the time, and Haunting Starring Polterguy is ass ill-conceived as the game's title. Mutant league Football hides a distinctly average American football game behind a grotesque horror film theme, and Ultima: The Black Gate is a general disappointment, despite the continued success of the series.
If you really are keen to revisit any of the better games available on this compilation because you remember them so fondly, EA Replay may be worth the risk, but be prepared for potential disappointment. That said, everything on offer was a great game at the time, and many still hold some historical status today, but for the same money and with a bit of luck, you could probably pick up one original cartridge and the console to play it on for the same price as this well meant compilation.