Retro Round-up for August 30th

Retro Round-up for August 30th

Written by Cyril Lachel on 8/31/2007 for PS3   Wii   360  

This Week in Defunct Games 25
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 have a packed show full of ghouls, ghosts, RPGs, exploding blocks, street fighters, and army men. We have three games for the Virtual Console and two for the Xbox Live Arcade. So instead of listening to me babble on about what we have in store, maybe you should go and see what we think of this week's retro titles ...
 
Breath of Fire II (Virtual Console)
 What Is It?
Capcom's follow-up to the modestly successful Breath of Fire is larger and more involved than its predecessor, but unfortunately also much less interesting. While some parts are very clever (you are able to build your home town, populating it with stray homeless folks you run across), it suffers from too little direction, a purely mechanical storyline and the clunkiest dialog since Night Trap. The good news is that this is a by-the-numbers Japanese role-playing game; something the Virtual Console doesn't have a lot of at the moment. When it comes right down to it most RPGs aren't going to mind that the dialog is poor and the story is utter rubbish, if anything they'll write it off as being part of the charm of Breath of Fire II. I would have preferred Capcom release one of the other games in the series (perhaps the first or third installment), but Breath of Fire II will no doubt find a small following of RPG nuts that are excited just to have a game like this on the Wii.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
I would like to say that crummy stories and bad dialog in role-playing games is a thing of the past, but that is just not the case. To this day we have to put up with poorly translated Japanese RPGs with the most generic stories you will ever seen. Breath of Fire II almost gets away with it because it's one of the few RPGs on the Wii, so most people will forgive the game's shortcomings. The adventure is long and there are plenty of characters available to play, but the game is not without its problems. The gameplay manages to hold up even if the story can't.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
This is a tough call, if you're a casual RPG fan then maybe you should stick with Sega's offerings, such as Shining in the Darkness, Shining Force and Legend of Thor. But if you're dying for a brand new RPG from Japan, then Breath of Fire II may hold your attention for awhile. $8 is a bit much for what you end up getting here, so be warned that this is a mediocre substitute for the much better RPGs that have yet to hit the Virtual Console. If anything Breath of Fire II just demonstrates how in need the Virtual Console community is for great role-playing games from Japan.
 
 
Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Anybody that knows me already knows that I'm a huge fan of Capcom's Ghosts 'N Goblins series. I loved the original 8-bit game as a kid, bought the Sega Genesis specifically for Ghouls 'N Ghosts, enjoyed it on the Super NES, and even bought both of the Maximo games the day they came out. There's just something about that boxer-wearing knight that I can't get enough of. That's why it's so easy to recommend Ghouls 'N Ghosts this week, as far as I'm concerned it's one of the greatest 16-bit 2D games of all time. Ghouls 'N Ghosts manages to retain everything you loved about the original game, it's hard as hell (requiring you to play through it twice in order to beat it), full of crazy weapons and cool boss battles. This sequel takes all that to a brand new level thanks to special magic attacks, brand new armor, and levels that are ready to fight back. Perhaps the best part of this game is the level designs, now you aren't just battling bats, zombies and other ghoulies, you are also dealing with earthquakes, fire popping up all around you, and even the wind. While it doesn't look as good as the third installment, Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts on the Super NES, at least this Sega Genesis game runs without the rampant slowdowns. Some may complain that having to play through it twice is an artificial way of adding length, but Ghouls 'N Ghosts is already a lengthy game in its own right. While most people will probably just want to download Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts out of hand (seeing as it's slightly newer and a Super NES game), it's well worth your time to check out this 1989 Genesis game.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
While the graphics aren't nearly as impressive as they were two decades ago, Ghouls 'N Ghosts still holds up as one of the greatest action games of the 16-bit era. If you're a fan of crazy levels filled with some of the coolest monsters around, then this Capcom classic is well worth checking out. Best of all, the level designs and boss battles are so good that you won't forget them until you're stuck in bed suffering from Alzheimer's disease. While the controls aren't especially deep, they are spot on and not plagued by constant slowdowns.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
The Ghosts 'N Goblins loving side of me wants to scream it from the rooftops that this sequel is one of the greatest games ever. But there's a part of me that isn't convinced that $8 is a good value for a game this old. You can just as easily go pick up one of the Capcom Classics Collection discs (for either the PSP or PlayStation 2) for $20 and get all three games, not to mention a bunch of other cool Capcom arcade games. Still, if the Wii is the only system you own then make sure you pick up Ghouls 'N Ghosts, it's simply one of the best games currently available on the Virtual Console.
Super C (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Not to be outdone by the Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo decided to upload Konami's Contra sequel to the Virtual Console. If the game sounds familiar that's because it is, just a few weeks ago I spent three paragraphs talking about the pros and cons of this classic arcade game. If you're one of those people who only owns a Wii and not an Xbox 360 then you're in luck this week (and you'll need it, because we're just now getting out of a six month long drought of good Wii games). As the sequel to Contra you can expect a few things; you already know it's going to be insanely hard (even harder than the arcade original), you know it's going to be action-packed, and you know it's going to be fun for two players. The good news is that it's all three of those things. Unfortunately it's not nearly as much fun as the original Contra, and some could even argue that it's nothing more than the same thing rehashed with new levels. My biggest concern with this game is that when compared to the original and the brilliant third installment on the Super NES, Super C just doesn't live up to the Contra name. Since you can already buy the Contra III on the Virtual Console the only reason most people would want to own this game is for the complete set. Konami (and Nintendo) would have been better off uploading Contra: Hard Corpse, the long-forgotten Genesis Contra game (that blows Super C out of the water). Hopefully that will come out soon, but in the mean time you can pass the time with this fun, but instantly forgettable installment of Super C.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
Not much has changed since the original Contra hit the scene, and that's the biggest problem with Super C. This really is just more of the same; it's you versus everybody else in this unfairly difficult action game. As with most 8-bit games in this genre, Super C rewards you for memorizing enemy locations, but it's to the point where in order to beat the game you have to have a photographic memory. Unlike the original arcade version, when you continue in Super C you end up restarting the level, something that can make this already difficult game downright frustrating. Couple this extreme difficulty with so-so controls and you have a game that is enjoyable at first, but never as good as it should have been.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
If you're one of those people who wants to own everything Contra then this is an easy $5 to spend. But then again, if you're that kind of person then chances are that you're going to be putting yourself through unneeded pain when visiting the 32-bit Contra era. Super C is still a fun game, but if you don't already own the original or Contra III then make sure and play those first.
 
 
Streets of Rage 2 (Xbox Live Arcade)
What Is It?
Forget Final Fight, Streets of Rage 2 is the only 16-bit brawler you'll ever need. Streets of Rage 2 does more than offer new characters and locations, nearly every aspect of this 1993 beat-em-up has been completely redone. All it takes is one look at the brand new graphics (that still look good, I might add) and you'll see that a lot of time and energy went into making this one of the best looking Genesis games of all time. There are also more ways of hurting your opponents, which is always a plus in this kind of game. Along with the improved gameplay and graphics, Streets of Rage 2 also offers brand new heroes, better bosses, and a ton of weird locations. In fact, the crazy locations are one of the reasons this game is so memorable. Streets of Rage 2 is more than happy to take you off of the regular beaten path in order to make you fight in all kinds of over-the-top areas. I'm talking about everything from and amusement park, a sports stadium, and even a large boat. This brand new Xbox 360 version features slightly smoothed out graphics, online gameplay and achievement points. This may just be the most definitive version of Streets of Rage 2 yet, a welcome addition to the Xbox Live Arcade library.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
As is always the case when we review classic brawlers, Streets of Rage 2 suffers from somewhat repetitious gameplay. So much of this game is about mashing buttons and dodging other people's attacks, and you'll be doing that from beginning to end without much of a break. Still, this is one of those games that is insanely fun to go through with other people. I would argue that the only way Sega could have made this any better was if they added a four-player mode, but alas this is just a two-player experience.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
Not only is this Xbox Live Arcade port of Streets of Rage 2 cheaper than its Virtual Console counterpart, but it's also a much better deal thanks to the online play and achievement points. I'm disappointed that Backbone didn't go back and alter the game so three or four people could play at the same time, but the addition of two-player online is enough to make me forget what I was bummed about. Like some of the other Backbone-produced Genesis games on the Xbox Live Arcade, Streets of Rage 2 suffers from some emulation problems, but you are saving $3 by buying it on Microsoft's system and you're getting a lot more for your money. 
 
 
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (Xbox Live Arcade) 
What Is It?
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is Capcom's brilliant puzzle game that uses super deformed Street Fighter and Darkstalker characters. While it never reached the heights of Tetris or got the hype of Lumines, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is certainly more than a novelty act. In this game you have to deal with pairs of colored blocks falling from the sky, the object is to match up as many colors as you can before a round glowing orb falls from the sky and destroys what you've made. Since this is a one-on-one puzzle game (even when you're playing by yourself) you will have to deal with enemy blocks coming over and screwing up your patterns. The trick to this game is that when your opponent deletes blocks from his/her side you will receive them in the way of countdown blocks, colored blocks that count down as you take your turn. As these blocks are counting down you won't be able to get rid of them, but once they've become real blocks (after the countdown has expired) you can use them in your strategy, ultimately giving you room for a combo of biblical proportions. Thanks to the countdown blocks a game can go either way, even when it looks completely one-sided. This Xbox 360 version of the game comes with several modes of play, online multiplayer, achievement points and a leader board. You can also expect some brand new high res graphics, making this the prettiest version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo on the market.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
Like most puzzle games (except Sega's Columns), Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo holds up remarkably well. While it is no doubt cliché, Capcom's classic puzzler is easy to learn and hard to master. The one-on-one nature of the action turns this into more of a puzzle fighting game, which is a lot different from what you see on other Xbox Live Arcade puzzlers. Best of all, each of the characters has their own patterns and animations. My one major gripe with the game is that the characters themselves aren't as good looking as the rest of the action; this may be due to the fact that Backbone didn't bother to redraw the characters. Instead Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Felicia and the rest of the gang are using the same sprites that we've seen in every other version of this game. This makes the game looks a bit uneven when stacked up against the high res puzzle blocks. Thankfully this is a minor complaint, but it's definitely disappointing that Backbone couldn't do something about the inconsistent graphics.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
While $10 is a bit steep, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is definitely worth the money. What makes this version of the game so compelling is the online mode, which is something American gamers have lacked since day one. If you don't intend to play online then you might as well keep your PlayStation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance or PSP version of the game, but if you've never owned Capcom's puzzler then there's no reason not to buy Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.

* 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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