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
. Although there are only two games to review this week, there's no denying that this is one of the best weeks ever! Not only do we get two of the very best Virtual Console games, but we also get a strong Xbox Live Arcade title. Oh, and we get American McGee's Grimm, too. But more about the good games, tune in this week to hear the word about Samurai Shodown II and Y's Book I & II, two amazing games that couldn't be more different. Is this the best week ever for classic games? Find out now when you read another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
Samurai Shodown II
What Is It?
Samurai Shodown II is not just the sequel to SNK's weapon-based fighting game, it's also one of the best fighting games SNK ever made. In case you missed the first game, Samurai Shodown takes everything you liked about SNK's other fighting games, but adds in memorable characters, exciting sword battles and so much more. What's more, it's also one of the best looking games on the Neo-Geo, a game with so much style that you'll completely forget about Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury. Unfortunately this port is missing the one thing that would have made it a true 21st century release - online play. With 16 crazy characters, hidden bosses and some of the best backgrounds on the Neo-Geo, Samurai Shodown II stands well above most of the fighting games of that era.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Some could argue that the controls are a little sluggish and aren't always consistent, especially when you compare this to other recent weapon-based fighting games (I'm looking at you SoulCalibur IV). It's easy to get over this, however, because of the game's amazing style, great characters and fun fighting engine. The game excels because it's different from all of the other fighters on the market, and that's why the game still holds up.
Is It Worth The Money?
Usually this is the part of the review where I tell you that you're better holding off and buying the upcoming Samurai Shodown Anthology for $30. But, I'm not going to do that this time. While it doesn't have online play, Samurai Shodown II is perfect in almost every way. In fact, it's so good that you'll never need to play any other Samurai Shodown game again. The sad truth is, SNK has never been able to make a Samurai Shodown game that is as good as this one, so it makes sense that you would buy this $9 title and be set. Even if you spend the extra twenty bucks for the full compilation, you'll still end up only playing this game. So why not just ignore the disappointing sequels and just get this, one of the greatest 2D fighting games of all time.
Y's Book I & II
What Is It?
While Y's Book I & II may not have been as popular or good looking as Final Fantasy VII, this TurboGrafx-CD role-playing game was widely considered to be the first great adventure game of the 16-bit era. Developed by a company known for their amazing adventure chops, Y's Book I & II was the first American-released RPG to not only look good, but have amazing cinemas and an epic soundtrack. And did I mention that there's actual voice acting in this game? Unfortunately this was released at a time when people didn't quite understand the power of voice acting (so a lot of it is, at best, laughably bad ), but it's clear that this game was trying to do something new and amazing. It was rewarded by the game critics of the time, earning Electronic Gaming Monthly's first ever perfect 10 score. These days it's hard to argue that this game would be a triple-A title, however the adventure is still interesting, the gameplay is unique (even if it is a bit antiquated) and the music is phenomenal. Heck, even the voice acting is fun to laugh at. The Y's name may not mean much in the U.S. anymore, but that shouldn't keep you from checking out one of the best role-playing games to ever grace the TurboGrafx-16!
Does It Still Hold Up?
Okay, so the first thing you should know about Y's Book I & II is that it is not a turn-based role-playing game. Heck, it's not even the type of adventure game where you get to swing your sword. In fact, Y's Book I & II has more in common with Madden NFL than Final Fantasy. To attack you have to hit your enemy when they aren't looking, either by running into their side or back. You can attack them head on, however that's not only more difficult, but also more dangerous. Is this set-up perfect? Not even a little, and it will frustrate you to no end when dealing with bosses. However, the game runs surprisingly fast so there's actually a joy in this combat system, even if it lacks precision. Also, the cinemas and graphics aren't quite as impressive as they once were ... but then again, you probably expected that from a twenty year old adventure game.
Is It Worth The Money?
Unlike the Final Fantasy games and other role-playing titles of the era, there haven't been that many re-releases of Y's Book I & II. In fact, there haven't been ANY re-releases until now, which automatically makes this game worth your $8. Sure the gameplay is a little wonky, however I have a hunch that a lot of people who despise the tried and true turn-based RPG will probably end up enjoying this game's emphasis on action. Y's Book I & II may not be the perfect role-playing game anymore, but that shouldn't keep you from having a fantastic time battling through both volumes of this game.This Week in Xbox Live Arcade
This week Microsoft finishes up their "Summer of XBLA" by offering up one of the most anticipated games of the summer, Castle Crashers. While not a retro title per se, there's no denying that the basic premise is grounded in the past. In case you haven't been paying attention read the preview I wrote two years ago
), Castle Crashers is a game rooted in the classic 2D brawler genre, comparable to something like Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Guardian Heroes. This is the next game from The Behemoth, a company who is best known for releasing Alien Hominid, one of the best Contra clones of the last few years. Given their pedigree, it certainly stands to reason that Castle Crashers will be another must-buy. I certainly look forward to a time when I can review more "classic" games on the Xbox Live Arcade, but it's hard to complain when you're playing games as strong as Castle Crashers, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 and Braid.
This Week in GameTap
Still not satisfied with what you're getting on the Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade? Then maybe you should head on over to GameTap
! With more than 100 free games currently available, GameTap
is one of the best places to play classic games! And every week they are adding brand new titles to the service, including old school games for the Genesis, Neo Geo, Commodore 64 and much, much more. Won't you join us as we take a look at what's going on this week over at GameTap!
I'm not trying to shock you, but this week GameTap offers yet another episode of American McGee's Grimm. If you've been reading this weekly article then you already know my thoughts on this episodic action game. Unfortunately I'm not a huge fan, but that doesn't mean that some people may enjoy these well-intended fairy tale parodies. As usual, you can play this week's episode, The Girl Without Hands, for free for the first 24 hours. So, if you really want to see what happens this week, then I suggest you head on over to GameTap immediately (after you finish reading this article, of course).
Thankfully paying subscribers get a better game to choose from this week. After long wait, D3's stunning puzzle/adventure game, Puzzle Quest, has been unleashed on the GameTap server. As far as I'm concerned Puzzle Quest was the best game of 2007, which certainly makes this GameTap release a welcome surprise. I'm not as big of a fan of this PC port, I still say that the game works best in the portable format. But at the same time I can't deny how addicting this game is, no matter how it comes packaged. This week I would skip American McGee's Grimm and head right towards Puzzle Quest!