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
. If you believed Capcom and SNK then this week we should be reviewing the original Mega Man and the seminal Samurai Shodown II. But something strange happened between those announcements and the moment that Nintendo pushed the upload button, because this week we are actually looking at Splatterhouse 2 and the Sega Master System port of Sonic the Hedgehog. Okay, so it's not exactly Samurai Shodown II, but maybe we can actually use this time to talk about something important. Find out how that goes in yet another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
Sonic the Hedgehog
What Is It?
Seeing how popular Sonic the Hedgehog was on the Genesis, Sega decided to release this 8-bit port of the game. Perhaps port is the wrong word, I'm sure Sega would have talked about how this is an 8-bit "reimagining" of the Sonic the Hedgehog game. Either way, the basic look and gameplay of the 16-bit game are all here, only shrunk down to fit on the Sega Master System. While the game follows roughly the same path as the original game, there are some striking differences between the 8- and 16-bit versions of the game. New levels and bosses were added, some of scoring details are different and the level maps have been completely changed. Is this a big enough change to warrant a second purchase? Probably not, especially since this Sonic the Hedgehog game suffers from some weird control choices.
Does It Still Hold Up?
While the graphics and animation are surprisingly solid for an 8-bit game, Sonic the Hedgehog is plagued by some control issues and slow gameplay. Worse yet, the game just doesn't feel right. When you jump it feels like you float in the air for far too long. Running from one part of the level to the next also feels weird, due in large part to the slower gameplay. After playing more than a decade of Sonic the Hedgehog games I know how Sonic should feel, and this is definitely NOT how he is supposed to control.
Is It Worth The Money?
I suppose it's better this than Sonic the Hedgehog on the Game Gear. Actually, I'm not so sure about that. The truth is, there's really no reason for this game to exist on the Virtual Console. It's not like the far superior 16-bit version is unavailable on Nintendo's console, the Genesis game has been available from the start. Yes, there are some new levels and the layouts aren't exactly the same, but it also has this weird floaty feel and it doesn't play very fast. The only reason you would buy this is if you are a Sonic the Hedgehog completist, and even then you should probably go out and pick up one of those Sega Mega Collection discs that has all of Sonic's 8-bit outings. Sonic the Hedgehog isn't a terrible game, but it's also not the kind of Master System game they should be releasing.
What Is It?
Looking back at it now it's nearly impossible to believe that Namco's Splatterhouse was once the most controversial game on the block. Unleashed in the arcades and later ported to the TurboGrafx-16, Splatterhouse took the over-the-top gore of a Friday the 13th movie and turned you into a hero bashing the stuffing out of dozens of ghoulish characters. This 1992 game is the sequel to that horribly violent (yet insanely cheesy) arcade game, and in a lot of ways it's exactly what you expect. Splatterhouse 2 (much Splatterhouse 3) was only released on the Genesis, which was just about the only viable location for a gruesome game like this in the early 1990s. If you've played the first game then you know what to expect here. The graphics are better, the control feels a little tighter and the levels are a little cooler, but at the end of the day all you're doing is walking from left to right punching baddies and picking up all sorts of powerful weapons. Thankfully the level designs are good enough to keep you playing for at least one play-through. But that's the problem, after you've seen everything there is to see there's really no reason to come back and go through it again. The gameplay isn't compelling enough and the story is extremely weak. Splatterhouse 2 is a fun relic of the past, but it's probably not the kind of game you'll want to load up more than once or twice.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Although the game looks surprisingly good, Splatterhouse 2 feels like it's a hundred years old. The first game wasn't exactly known for its amazing gameplay and this game is very much the same thing. The first problem is that your character doesn't really do anything, he can punch and pick up weapons, but that's about it. He also doesn't animate well, so you're basically just watching him do two of three animations over and over. Worse yet, the whole game is littered with unfair cheap hits and bosses that don't seem to play by the rules. The game sure does look nice and the bosses are creative, but in the gameplay department this game does not hold up well.
Is It Worth The Money?
Like Friday the 13th, Halloween and all of the other slasher-horror flicks this game is based, Splatterhouse didn't need to spin the game out into sequels. This game has some cool bosses and levels, but there are no new ideas this time around. Splatterhouse 2 is like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 - completely unnecessary. If you really want to remember the controversial games of the past then pick up the first installment, there's really no reason you need to revisit this series after that.
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!
Last week GameTap announced that they would be debuting their newest show, American McGee's Grimm, for free for the first 24 hours. Apparently the same thing applies to today's entry, Little Red Riding Hood. While I haven't had a chance to check out today's episode, I did go through last week's pilot and was ... well ... a little disappointed. There are things to like about American McGee's Grimm, but I'm not sure there's enough to keep me going for another few weeks. I am willing to give this new episode a try, if only because the concept of Little Red Riding Hood sounds more promising than what we got last week. I'll be back soon with full reviews of the first two episodes, so stay tuned.
Unfortunately that's all there is from GameTap. This week they decided against uploading any older games, including nothing for the paid service and nothing for the free service. That means that if you weren't a fan of American McGee's Grimm then you probably have no reason to check out GameTap this week. It's sad, really. Hopefully GameTap will have something juicy to show us next week.