Retro Round-up for August 10

Retro Round-up for August 10

Written by Cyril Lachel on 8/10/2007 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!  In this week's episode we look at three great games ... and Track & Field.  Find out what's good and bad when you check out this newest episode of Retro Round-Up ...

Adventures of Lolo
What Is It?
While most people are introduced to new games by reading magazines or renting random titles, I came across the Adventures of Lolo in a very unorthodox manner.  It all started when I needed to buy a brand new TV to get the most out of my recently purchased Sega Genesis, the peak of video game performance back in 1989.  I searched every nook and cranny looking for the perfect TV to play Altered Beast on, walking through every store in my area at least once.  After hours of backbreaking shopping I found myself walking into the local Video Only to see what I could find.  But it wasn't a TV that I found; it was a completely empty store with one middle-aged employee playing Adventures of Lolo on a gigantic television set.  I don't know if it was the fact that this guy was playing games at work or the enormous size of the TV, but there was something about that moment that stuck with me.  The creepy old dude spoke so passionately about this one game, a puzzle game that really made him use his head to get from the beginning of the level to the end.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, a cute adventure game that had these crazy (yet engrossing) puzzles.  I was so jealous that this guy was able to spend his day playing this one video game, and after I left his store (with my brand new TV in hand) I knew that I needed to run out to the local game store and buy this game.  Of course, looking back at this situation I actually feel sorry for the guy.  Here's a man who clearly worked at the world's worst Video Only location, a tired old store where nothing gets done and nobody comes in to shop.  He wasn't making money while playing games at all, the truth is he was probably broke from working on commission.  What a crummy, crummy job he had.  But no matter how depressing his life was, at least he had good taste in Nintendo games, because Adventures of Lolo is an exciting puzzle game that everybody should own.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Not only does Adventures of Lolo hold up, but it also paved the way for some of this year's best puzzle games.  Where would titles like Crush and PQ2: Practical Quotient 2 be without those bizarre adventures Lolo got into?  While this appears to be a simple game, there's actually a lot of planning involved in going from level to level.  Best of all, this game is insanely difficult ... it will even have those brainiacs that whizzed through Crush and other recent puzzlers scratching their heads (and searching for clues in the FAQ).  While some of the Lolo sequels improved on the theme, it's hard to deny the brilliance that is Adventures of Lolo.

Is It Worth the Money?
With 50 brain-busting levels, Adventures of Lolo is a great value.  The problem with a lot of old 8-bit games is that they are all pretty short, when it comes right down to it most of the NES games on the Virtual Console can be completed in no more than an hour or two.  But Adventures of Lolo is long; you'll definitely get your $5 worth.  While the graphics and sound are obviously outdated, Lolo proves to be one of those puzzles games that is both challenging and endearing at the exact same time.  That's a hard tightrope to walk, but Lolo manages to make it from one side to the other thanks to its great character and amazing puzzle designs.  It may not have the name Mario in the title, but Adventures of Lolo is definitely one of those games you need to pick up this week.

adventureoflolo


Galaga '90
What Is It?
In the thirty years of modern video games there are only so many worthwhile remakes/updates to classic games.  The only games that jump to mind are titles like Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar and Pac-Man Championship Edition on the Xbox Live Arcade, the rest of the games either miss the charm of the original game or feel so archaic that it's hard to believe they were ever popular.  Thankfully Galaga '90 fits into the first category, it's an amazing update to one of the best 2D shooters ever made.  Like all early 2D shooters, Galaga '90 puts you in the cockpit of a small spaceship that is locked to the bottom of the screen.  You move your ship left and right shooting at all of the crazy enemy types that litter the screen.  To many Galaga will remind them of Space Invader, the landmark arcade game released three years earlier.  But don't be fooled, there's enough to Galaga to set it apart from all of those similar games.  Better yet, Galaga '90 manages to add a lot of new elements to the already amazing original game.  Get ready for some fun (albeit simple) boss battles, some new enemies to fight and a whole bunch of crazy backgrounds to fight over.  There's something funny about talking about a classic game that is nothing more than an update to another classic game, but that's exactly what Galaga '90 is ... and by golly, this game does it right.

Does It Still Hold Up?
While Space Invaders and other early overhead shooters tend to feel a bit rough by today's standards, Galaga '90 manages to feel fresh and original ... even nearly twenty years after it first came out!  What sets this game apart is how different it is from all of those other 2D shooters currently populating the Virtual Console.  The graphics may not look very good, but the gameplay is spot on and it will keep you interested long after you've memorized the patterns of all those other shooters.

Is It Worth the Money?
At six dollars it's hard to say no to a game like this, especially if you're a collector of classic 2D shooters.  There are a lot of reasons to pick this game up; chief among them is the fact that this is one of the only great remakes/updates of an early generation arcade game.  If that's not enough of a reason for you, then why not pick this up because it clearly loves the classic original and deserves to be played by as many people as possible.  Even if you're sick and tired of all these 2D shooters on the Virtual Console, Galaga '90 is definitely worth a look.

Galaga
Wave Race 64
What Is It?
Wave Race 64 was released at a time when 3D racing games were just starting to get their footing.  Thanks to games like Daytona USA on the Saturn and Ridge Racer on the PlayStation, the polygonal racing genre was off to a great start and quickly becoming one of the best loved types of games around the globe.  Wave Race 64 sent waves across the genre when it managed to not only be one of the best racing games on the market, but also gave us some of the most realistic water physics we had seen up to that time.  Ten years later it's hard to recommend a game because of its great water effects, so thankfully Wave Race 64 stands on its own as a stellar racing game with enough content to keep you (and three of your friends) busy for weeks to come.  What sets Wave Race apart from most of the other racing games of the time (and any time, for that matter) are the evolving courses, which change as you go from one lap to another.  Even today's best arcade racers (like Burnout) have you essentially going over the same set course three or four times before the race ends.  But in Wave Race you can memorize the ins and outs of one lap only to find that the very next lap is completely different.  Why aren't other companies pinching this brilliant idea from Wave Race?  I certainly wouldn't complain if the next Need for Speed did this.  Alas, Wave Race 64 was way ahead of its time, and easily one of the best racing games on the Virtual Console.

Does It Still Hold Up?

Even if you look past the evolving levels (which you shouldn't do, since those evolving levels are one of the best things about Wave Race) you still have a solid racing game full of amazing level designs and fast arcade-style action.  It's also worth mentioning that we don't get a lot of racing games where you actually have to fight the environment, but the water in Wave Race is just as much a character as the blocky man riding that wave runner.  While it's hard to go back and enjoy Ridge Racer or Daytona USA these days, Wave Race 64 still manages to be one of the best racing games of all time and a must-own for anybody who owns a Wii and loves racing games.

Is It Worth the Money?
While some could argue that $10 is a bit much for a ten year old game, the fact that there's nothing else like it on the market makes this a very attractive download.  Don't even think about buying that crummy GameCube sequel over this Nintendo 64 version, the original Wave Race is where it's at.  Chances are you won't even need to trick people into coming over and playing this game with you, Wave Race 64 is just that much fun.

Wave Race 64


Track & Field
What Is It?
Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I have never been a fan of the Track & Field style of video game.  I can appreciate what this 1983 arcade game tried to do, but I have never been a fan of mashing buttons as fast as I can to recreate running, throwing and other outdoor sports.  The problem with this game is that it's not the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Track & Field, a cartridge that actually offered a lot more depth and excitement to the overall experience.  Instead this is the short and shallow arcade game, where you have to slam your fingers as fast as you can and hope for the best.  The good news is that this version offers online support, leader boards, and slightly upgraded (read: smoothed out) graphics.  Even with all that going for it Track & Field remains a terribly short experience that is only fun for a few minutes ... if that.  If you're a fan of these kinds of games then you're better off just waiting for Track & Field II on the Virtual Console, at least with that game you get canoeing, taekwondo and skeet shooting.

Does It Still Hold Up?
What was fun in the arcade 24 years ago is definitely not fun on your Xbox 360 control.  This is the kind of game where they expect you to hurt your hand mashing buttons trying to make your little guy go as fast as he possibly can.  The good news is that this version of the game offers you a slightly remixed control scheme, which involves you waggling the left analog stick back and forth.  While that's a good idea, I can't help but notice that it makes it hard to use that set up and jump/throw at the same time.  There are far too many events (hurdles, javelin, etc.) that require you to not only run fast but push that action button at a moment's notice.   At the end of the day your two control options are to choose something that hurts your hand or something that makes it hard to throw and jump.

Is It Worth the Money?
Even though this game is only five dollars (and gives you Xbox Live support), Track & Field is just one of those games that is impossible to recommend.  I'm sure there are people out there that love this game, but I couldn't get into it then and I can't get into it now.  If you like hurting your hand while playing a devilishly short game then by all means buy Track & Field, I'm certainly not going to be the one that stops you.  At least the game is cheap; unfortunately it's also five dollars too expensive.

Track and Field

* 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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