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
It's the day after Christmas and chances are you're busy playing all your new games and having a jolly old time. Well stop that, because we have an episode of the Retro Round-Up to get through. This week Nintendo saved the best for last, finally giving us a 16-bit role-playing game worth talking about. GameTap also has a couple surprises up its sleeve this week. Find out what is what when you check out the final episode of the Retro Round-Up for 2008!
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
What Is It?
It's the final Phantasy Star sequel. Not just the final one on the Genesis, but the final one of all time (at least so far). Longtime Phantasy Star vets had a hunch this was going to be the last going in, so they opted to resolve just about every story line and throw in everything they could think of. This is a huge game, a massive adventure that was certainly expensive when it was first released. If you were to buy this game back in 1995 it would have run you close to $100 (about $135 in today's dollar), but it was worth it. At least, it was worth it to the people that wanted to know how this story ended. Critics complain that this game has too many continuity errors and some questionable design decisions. To an extent they have a point, but you can't argue with the game's epic adventure, fantastic graphics and amazing music. While there are definitely a few hiccups, Phantasy Star IV is considered by many to be the ultimate game in the series, the best of the best. Whether that's true or not is irrelevant, for only $8 you can have one of the greatest 16-bit role-playing games of all time. With its amazing story and memorable characters, you would be insane not to spend Christmas week going through Phantasy Star IV.
Does It Still Hold Up?
As far as 16-bit role-playing games go, Phantasy Star IV holds up remarkably well. The graphics, while certainly not up to today's standards, are quite strong. The enemies look cool, especially the bosses. Also impressive is the music. The gameplay is classic RPG fair and the game is a bit easier than either Phantasy Star II or III, so don't go into this expecting a revolutionary (or super hard) adventure. However, anybody that does go into this will experience a fantastic role-playing adventure that has withstood the test of time.
Is It Worth the Money?
Considering the original game was around $100, I would say paying a mere eight bucks for this is a steal. Then again, you can get Phantasy Star II, III and III on the Sega Genesis Collection discs, which was released on the PlayStation 2 and PSP. Plus, all three of those 16-bit games are coming to Sega's next compilation, scheduled to hit the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. If you don't plan on buying either of those compilations (or simply don't own the systems they are for), then this 16-bit adventure game is a must-buy. Without a doubt, Phantasy Star IV is the best Virtual Console game to be released in some time.
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!
Can you believe it? This is the first week in several months that I haven't had to talk about American McGee's Grimm. But sadly, since there's very little else happening on GameTap this week, I'm left to talk about the game I could care less about. Bah humbug! In case you missed last week's mega episode, the final episode of American McGee's Grimm, A Christmas Carol, is free from now until the end of the year. So if you're looking for a free game that is Christmas related, then you should check this out. Or don't. I don't care.
Thankfully there is another free game this week, though it's certainly not Christmas related. That game is Overlord, the PC (and Xbox 360) game that combines medieval combat with Pikmin. No, I'm not kidding. The game is a blast, even if it does feel a bit shallow at times. If you haven't had a chance to check Overlord out, then now is the perfect time.
Thankfully paying subscribers aren't left out in the cold this week. If you have a subscription to GameTap then you will be able to play Stronghold Crusader Extreme. You got to love that name, it's not good enough to just be Stronghold Crusaders, but people wouldn't know you're serious if you didn't add the EXTREME to the end. Maybe I should try that. This Week in GameTap Extreme. Okay, maybe not. Anyway, you can also try out Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine. Yeah. Or you could just do what everybody else is doing, and play Overlord for free. The choice is yours.