Retro Round-up for February 29th

Retro Round-up for February 29th

Written by Cyril Lachel on 2/29/2008 for Wii   360  

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. After a few weeks of worthwhile classic games, Nintendo has decided to upload a couple of games that are hardly worth talking about. On the Virtual Console side we have Kirby 64 and Psychosis, neither of which is worth your hard earned money. Sadly this week's GameTap releases aren't much better. Find out where we come down on these games when you read this week's exciting installment of Retro Round-Up!

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
What Is It?
Unlike Super Mario 64, Conker's Bad Fur Day and countless other Nintendo 64 platformers, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is not a 3D game. Oh sure, the characters and backgrounds are all displayed using polygonal designs, but you control this game no differently than you would the old Kirby game on the NES. In fact, the game is so familiar that even the basic gameplay remains the same. In this 2D outing you solve puzzles and beat levels by sucking your enemies up and using their unique powers. In practice this gameplay mechanic is a lot of fun, but it's no more fun here in 64-bits than it was on older Nintendo consoles. What's more, the overall adventure is entirely too short, leaving some Kirby fans a little perplexed as to why they had to spend $10 on such a short and shallow experience. That's not to say that you can't have some fun with this Kirby game, but there's a reason why this Kirby game isn't regarded in the same light as Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie. This is a fun game that is over far too quickly.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Like a lot of old school 2D games, Kirby 64 tends to feel a bit short. The controls are good and the graphics (which are presented as 3D, even if they are done from a 2D point of view) also work in the game's favor. But the game is marred by the fact that it's over far too quickly, you'll be able to blaze through this game in only a few hours, which isn't a very good return on your investment. If that's all you want out of your games then you may enjoy this title, for the most part there isn't anything broken or outdated about this ten year old title.

Is It Worth the Money?
That ten dollars could definitely be going towards a better Nintendo 64 game (or two really good Nintendo Entertainment System games). Kirby's sucking gameplay mechanic fails to get boring, but there's really no reason to play this half-assed action game when you can pick up that Nintendo DS Kirby title instead. If you've never played this adventure than it may be worth a look, but be warned that the actual game will only take a few hours to beat.

Psychosis
What Is It?
Of course I remember Psychosis; they were the company that originally gave us wipEout, Shadow of the Beast and Colony Wars. Oh wait, that's Psygnosis. Oh, I remember, Psychosis is the three hundredth TurboGrafx-16 shooter I've had to talk about since starting this weekly feature. Developed by Naxat, this TurboGrafx shooter is best known as the completely average 2D shooter that could have been a pinball game. In this game you fly around the screen shooting enemies in front of you. And when you're not doing that you are collecting new power-ups, add-ons to your ships and other items worth extra points. If this all sounds familiar then it should, because Psychosis plays like just about every other shoot-em-up on the planet. The graphics are nice and colorful and there are a few noteworthy power-ups, but there's just not enough personality in this game to recommend it.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The shooting portions of the game hold up just fine, the controls are easy to use and rarely feel sluggish. But the game is hurt by the fact that you've done all this before, many, many times already. The graphics and sound hold up nicely, but it's hard to get past the been there/done that feeling this game conjures up. The one thing this game does have going for it is the theme, I definitely enjoy the nightmare levels, all of which seems to be based on different things people are afraid of. I'm not saying that's enough to recommend this game, but that aspect of Psychosis holds up remarkably well.

Is It Worth the Money?
I understand that not everybody has played as many 2D shooters as I have, but there are definitely better places to start than Psychosis. This game is just very average, from beginning to end. You're shooting down familiar character, racing through familiar backgrounds and picking up familiar power-ups. There's no way of getting around that this game feels very, well, familiar. And that's a shame, if this was the only shoot-em-up on the Virtual Console, but as it is we're forced to compare this to Air Zonk, Gradius III, R-Type, Lords of Thunder and dozens of other strong shooters. Pass on Psychosis, there are clearly better shooters already on the market.

This Week in GameTap
Every week I plan on taking a look at the classic games being uploaded on the GameTap service. Regardless of whether it's part of their free or premium service, GameTap offers a wide variety of old school games that is worth checking out. Here are the most recent games uploaded to their server, keep in mind that all of these games are free to play unless otherwise stated:

1st Division Manager (Commodore 64) -
This incredibly complex Commodore 64 game allows you to customize every aspect of soccer, from the way the characters look, to where they play to who they play against. If you're the kind of person who really enjoys managing a sports team then this game might be up your alley, but the endless menus and steep learning curve put me right to sleep. Even if this is your cup of tea I wouldn't be surprised to see this very same thing done better on a newer console (for roughly the same price).

Lazer Force (Commodore 64) -
In a lot of ways Lazer Force suffers from the same problems that plagued Psychosis. Neither of these two games are all that original and there's a strange feeling that we've already been here and done that. However, this game is free, so I'm a little more forgiving when it comes to Lazer Force. This game is also noteworthy for being one of the hardest shooters of all time, the kind of game where it's hard to go even a minute without dying.

Olli & Lissa 3 (Commodore 64) -
In a lot of ways Olli & Lissa 3 is no different from a lot of old Commodore 64 games, it involves you walking around a dark world picking up items and using them to solve puzzles. The good news is that Olli & Lissa 3 manages to get this formula right. The controls are spot-on, the graphics are about as good as you could hope for from this machine, and the puzzles are both challenging and fair. Olli & Lissa 3 is a fun action game that is worth checking out.
Poltergeist (Commodore 64) -
When I first saw the name I was kind of hoping it would be an early movie adaptation of the 1982 movie of the same name. But it's not; instead it's a crazy 2D side scrolling shoot-em-up, similar to the classic game Defender. To its credit, Poltergeist is a fast-paced game that has a few good ideas; the only problem is that it's far too frustrating and hard to control. Not to mention that it doesn't have anything to do with ghosts trying to suck you into the TV screen. Lame.

Return of the Invaders (Arcade) -
"Return" is the exciting third installment of the popular Space Invaders series. Released in 1985 (seven full years after the release of the first game), Return of the Invaders is a nice playing game with sharp graphics. Unfortunately by the time this game was released we had already moved on from the boring old gameplay of Space Invaders, but this is worth checking out, if only so that you can see what Taito tried to do to revive their once-strong franchise.

* 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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