Retro Round-Up (February 13)
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 I'm scratching my head over Capcom's decision to rename their classic shooter, MERCS. Name change or not, this was a solid week for retro releases. We have a classic shooter on the Virtual Consoleand a brand new very special Xbox Live Arcade review. But no GameTap, I guess nothing is happening at the 'Tap this week. You won't want to miss it. All this can be yours when you scroll down and read another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
Wolf of the Battlefield: MERCS
What Is It?
Wait ... WHAT? Wolf of the Battlefield: MERCS? Apparently somebody has decided that with this re-release they are also going to go in and change the name. See, MERCS has always been the successor to Commando, which, in Japan, was known as Wolf of the Battlefield. Recently, when Capcom decided to release the third installment, they decided to call it Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, a nice throwback to anybody that knows the history of this action-packed franchise. But going back and renaming MERCS seems a bit much. Is it really necessary that people know that these two games are connected, especially when Commando 3 failed to hit the Wii last year?
But I digress; MERCS is an overhead 2D shooter that you've probably seen in the arcade before. And if not there, then you've likely seen it on one of Capcom's multiple compilation discs. It's one of their best-loved shooters, and for good reason. You take control of a soldier who is off to blow stuff up. Along the way he'll have to deal with plenty of enemy soldiers, cool powered-up guns and some big, bad bosses. This certainly isn't the most original game on the Virtual Console, but it's also a slightly different take on the standard 16-bit action game. Sadly this Genesis version has been stripped down. While the graphics and sound are near-perfect, this version lacks the all-important multiplayer mode. I'm not asking for three people to join in on the fun, but couldn't they have done a simple two-player co-op mode? The good news is that it does feature a couple of new levels to make up for it, so at the end of the day I'm giving this a slightly muted recommendation.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Even without a two-player mode, MERCS is the kind of fast and fun action game that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. The bosses are all really cool (and often imitated) and the weapons are all really effective. Best of all, it has enough variety to stay interesting. Just when you are sick of shooting people down, you jump in a car and literally drive over them. Good deal.
Is It Worth the Money?
I won't lie; it hurts not having the multiplayer modes. These days you can get the PS2 and PSP versions of Capcom Arcade Classics for dirt cheap, and both of those feature the multiplayer modes. But at the same time you don't get the cool bonus content found in this Genesis version. Eight dollars isn't bad for this kind of game, especially if you plan on playing through it more than once. I still say it should support two-players, but there's enough to like in this version to warrant a purchase.
This Week in Xbox Live Arcade
More like LAST Week in Xbox Live Arcade. Some people noticed that last week I missed one of the better retro releases, R-Type Dimensions. This was a much-awaited Xbox Live Arcade game that just flew under my radar. This week I would like to make up to all of those R-Type fans by unveiling my newest section, the This Week in Xbox Live Arcade Point/Counterpoint! Every week we'll take a look at the Xbox Live Arcade game and offer two completely different opinions. It will literally be the least informative review you've ever read. Read reviews of R-Type Dimensions and 3 on 3 NHL Arcade and you'll see what I mean.
(Xbox Live Arcade/$15)
Oh my god, I can't believe it's finally here. I've been on pins and needles waiting for this game since Irem first announced it; it's about time it shows up. And it couldn't be better, the new graphics are amazing and you can switch between the new and old graphics on the fly, just from the push of a button. The game is just as fast and exciting as the old school arcade games, and it largely takes its levels from the first two titles. R-Type Dimensions is definitely worth picking up.
Whoa, whoa, whoa little cowboy, let's not get ahead of ourselves. While the games graphics are nice and the gameplay is solid, you can't argue with the fact that this is one of the hardest games of all time. This isn't a game about shooting aliens so much as it's a game about dying a whole lot. And dying in unfair ways. That's all you do. Die, die, die. Oh, and what's with the $15 price tag? It's not like you had to create these complicated levels by scratch, it's a twenty year old game. $15 seems a bit steep.
3 on 3 NHL Arcade
(Xbox Live Arcade/$10)
3 on 3 NHL Arcade wasn't good on the PlayStation 3 and it certainly isn't good here on the Xbox Live Arcade. There is really nothing to this sports game, it's almost insulting that EA expect people to shell out $10 for what amounts to next to nothing. Throw in the terrible sound effects and the jerky speed and you have one of the worst Xbox Live Arcade games of the year.
You act like those are bad things. Maybe I like having my hockey game be totally out of control and over before I know it. Maybe I'm a big fan of really annoying sound effects. I mean, I've heard the music you listen to, I would consider some of that to be noise! Besides, as a hockey fan I'm used to being the butt of the joke, so why shouldn't EA add insult to injury with this Xbox Live Arcade game?