Retro Round-up for April 18th

Retro Round-up for April 18th

Written by Cyril Lachel on 4/18/2008 for PS3   Wii   360  

Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games. This week we're given yet another Sega Master System game, only this time around it's actually one worth owning. On top of that we have another entry in the Turrican universe; this time around it's the Genesis version of Turrican 3. Over on the Xbox Live Arcade we're given an updated version of Battlezone, the less we say about that the better. All this can be yours when you read this week's episode of This Week in Defunct Games!

Fantasy Zone
What Is It?
Finally, a Sega Master System game that isn't already available on the Virtual Console. This is Fantasy Zone, the colorful 2D shooter that combines the fun of Defender with Timothy Leary's daily dose of acid. In Fantasy Zone you play a small egg-shaped spaceship that flies left and right shooting plants, bugs, trees and other psychedelic creatures. It starts out simple enough, but before long you're fighting off dozens of characters all trying to take you down, all while dealing with backgrounds that are full of contrasting colors and strange shapes. Believe it or not, Fantasy Zone is still a lot of fun. The graphics, while simple, have held up remarkably well and the game is still exciting. Best of all, this colorful title doesn't feel like any of the 2D shoot-em-ups currently available on the Virtual Console, which is really saying something considering colossal amount of shooters on the console. Some may complain about the bright (and often annoying) colors, but Fantasy Zone is definitely the first must-buy Sega Master System game on the Virtual Console.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Fantasy Zone is a strange, strange game. After playing dozens and dozens of me-too shooters on the Virtual Console, it's genuinely shocking to find one that is so radically different. It's not just the graphic scheme (which often reminds me of that Beatles cartoon, Yellow Submarine), but just the way the game plays. At its core this is nothing more than a fancy version of Defender, but that's not one of those games that has been beamed up to the Virtual Console. But even if you're sick of William's 1980 arcade game, Fantasy Zone more than holds up on its merits.

Is It Worth The Money?
This may not be the big Master System game everybody has been waiting for, but it's certainly a fun action game that is worth five dollars. You'll be surprised how well this action game has held up, especially when compared to all of the other shooters on the Virtual Console. The graphics aren't great, but this one is definitely worth the money.

Mega Turrican
What Is It?
Just in case you missed Super Turrican when it was uploaded a few weeks ago, Nintendo has decided to offer Mega Turrican. This Genesis game is essentially a port of Turrican 3 for the Amiga, a European masterpiece that is still regarded as one of the best action games of the early 1990s. While not wildly different from Super Turrican, Mega Turrican is still a fantastic game full of well designed levels, cool power-ups and plenty of balls-to-the-wall action. Some will argue that this game isn't different enough from its Super NES counterpart, but if you liked that game then you're bound to enjoy this one. At eight dollars it's hard to complain about another batch of levels, especially when the game is this much fun. It's also nice to see more old school Factor 5 games ported to the Virtual Console. These days most gamers know Factor 5 for their work on Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Lair, but there was once a time when the company was more interested in making exciting 2D games.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The action is fast-paced, the power-ups are fun to play with, the game controls well, the bosses are cool, the explosions are large ... what more could you want from a 2D shooter? Sure, the graphics look a little dated and the story isn't quite there, but it's hard to look past the exciting action and cool level designs. Mega Turrican definitely holds up.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you liked Super Turrican a few weeks ago then you're going to be just as impressed with this Genesis title. The problem is the timing, I'm of the mind that Nintendo should have waited a few more weeks (maybe a couple of months) before uploading this game, I have a hunch that there are still a lot of people trying to caught up with Super Turrican. Hopefully Nintendo will have learned their lesson this time around; I would hate to be talking about Super Turrican 2 three weeks from now. Mega Turrican is worth the money; just don't expect anything revolutionary from this 2D action game.

Battlezone
What Is It?
What a difference a week makes. Last week Microsoft offered us Ikaruga, arguably the best action game currently on the Xbox Live Arcade. Unfortunately this week we're reduced to Atari's limp Battlezone remake. In case you're too young to remember, Battlezone was a futuristic tank game set in a wireframe vector-style world. The gimmick of the original arcade game was that you had to put your entire face into a fake plastic periscope, something that (at the time) really aided in giving you that immersive feeling you weren't getting from other arcade games. As you might have already guessed, this Battlezone remake lacks this unique gimmick, instead replacing the immersive world with high def graphics and surround sound. Like all of the recent Atari "updates", Battlezone fails to capture what was great about the original 1980 arcade game. All of the controls are mapped two one analog stick, which fails to feel anything like a tank and makes maneuvering extremely slow. Worse yet, the online modes are a joke and there's little to no variety in the objectives. Battlezone is one of those games that just doesn't work 28 years later, it has been surpassed by everything from Twisted Metal to Cybersled.

Does It Still Hold Up?
I'm not sure if it's the port/update found here or Battlezone itself, but whatever it is this game just doesn't work in 2008. Looking back at the game now it's easy to see how slow and sluggish it really was, whereas the new "evolved" version feels needlessly pointless. The fun of the original game was shoving your face into the small plastic periscope. It didn't matter how slow the game played, there was something fresh and exciting about getting sucked into this wireframe world. But that feeling is missing here.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you really want to relive your memories of Battlezone, then perhaps you should hunt down the original arcade game, because this game just doesn't work without the visual gimmick. Even at five dollars, this game just isn't exciting enough to warrant a Microsoft Points transaction. Don't worry vehicular combat fans; Vigilante 8 is right around the corner

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.
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