Retro Round-up for January 11th

Retro Round-up for January 11th

Written by Cyril Lachel on 1/11/2008 for PS3   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. This week Nintendo surprised us all by only uploading two games, as opposed to their usual three. The good news is that we get The King of Fighters '94, the best Neo Geo fighter on the Virtual Console. Unfortunately we also have to talk about StarTropics and Tron.

The King of Fighters '94 (SNK)
What Is It?
After several months of waiting, there is finally a Neo Geo fighting game worth owning on the Virtual Console. While The King of Fighters '94 is definitely the best 2D fighter made by SNK on the Nintendo Wii, that's only because so far they've taken games from the bottom of the barrel (including such stinkers as <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-31" target="blank_"><b>Art of Fighting</b></a>, <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-31" target="blank_"><b>World Heroes</b></a> and <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-31" target="blank_"><b>Fatal Fury</b></a>). But The King of Fighters is different; it's actually a competent fighting game that is worth owning. There's just one problem, this probably won't be the only game in the franchise SNK will release on the Virtual Console. You see, The King of Fighters '94 is actually the first game in a series that continues to see annual updates. Simply put, there's a 100% chance that the Virtual Console is going to see some of the newer (and much improved) entries in the sequel, which will make this fighter obsolete. Of course, nobody knows when this will happen. SNK could wait a full year before giving us another King of Fighters game on the Virtual Console, or The King of Fighters '95 could come next month. We just don't know. It comes down to you choosing whether you want to wait for a better version of this series or finally pick up a good Neo Geo fighter on the Virtual Console. It's a tough chose, one that you will ultimately need to make for yourself.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Not only is The King of Fighters '94 a good playing fighting game, it also offers a few innovative (for the time) gameplay mechanics that are still being seen in today's games. For one thing, this game combines some of SNK's best known characters, including fighters from Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury and even Ikari Warriors (which isn't a fighting game, but just bear with me here). It also allowed you to assemble a team of fighters to fight with, which is pretty novel. Of course, later games would actually allow you to pick and choose what characters you wanted, but this game still gives you the ability to choose a team of fighters. All of this holds up well, the only problem is that the decade worth of sequels have improved on all of these innovative concepts.

Is It Worth The Money?
I hate to do this to you, but you're on your own when it comes to The King of Fighters '94. On one hand this is the first Neo Geo fighting game worth owning on the Nintendo Wii. After a disappointing debut in 2007, SNK is welcoming the New Year with a great game. But The King of Fighters '95, '96, 97 and other sequels are expected to follow. Nobody knows when these game will hit the Virtual Console, but you have to figure that they will at some point. When these games hit the Wii this '94 edition will be completely useless, so it's up to you to decide whether this is worth the cash. I personally would wait, but it's definitely tempting to have a good fighter on the Virtual Console. Oh those terrible choices!

StarTropics (Nintendo)
What Is It?
See, that's the problem with StarTropics ... it doesn't know what it is. While I'm sure there are a lot of Nintendo loyalists that will disagree with me, I am personally not much of a fan of Star Tropics (or its unfortunate sequel). What is StarTropics? It's a little bit of everything. On the surface the game is a lot like another old school Nintendo franchise, The Legend of Zelda. However, quickly enough it starts to feel like Dragon Warrior, then Crystalis and then, oddly enough, Ultima. The game is a mess, it picks and pulls elements from at least a half dozen better games. To make this all worse, the whole thing is just a little too generic for my tastes. The story is laughably bad, too. Of course, if you played this game when you were 8 then chances are you remember this as a masterpiece, but I promise you that you won't feel the same way 18 years later. You know you're in for a bad time when your weapon of choice is a Yo Yo. It may look like The Legend of Zelda, but StarTropics is not worth your time or money.

Does It Still Hold Up?
With its laughably bad story, the archaic controls and ugly graphics, there's really nothing here to be satisfied with. Even when the game was released it was lacking. Magazine after magazine gave it low scores and called it a half-ass Zelda clone. Looking back at it now it's clear that the game had more than just one problem, it also didn't have soul. Every element of this game has been done better in dozens (if not hundreds) of games. This game wasn't good then, and it definitely does not hold up all these years later.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you remember playing this as a kid you may be tempted to pick it up, but I am warning you that you might as well just flush $5 down the toilet. Time has a funny way of making us forget all of the bad things about a game, so it's pretty jarring to plug this game back in and suffer through frustrating design decisions that would not be tolerated now. StarTropics is one of the few Nintendo adventure games that you can feel good about skipping.

Tron (Disney Interactive)
What Is It?
This Xbox Live Arcade game is based on the 1982 movie of the same name. In the movie Jeff Bridges gets sucked into a video game and has to fight it out with a bunch of virtual baddies. Regardless of how cheesy the plot actually is, Tron is a classic science fiction movie with solid acting and some great special effects (which ushered in a whole generation of computer-generated effects). This game attempts to recreate the best "levels" featured in the movie, including a fantastic light cycle racing game, battle tanks and the Input/Output Tower. Basically this is just a mini-game collection, which means that you'll probably get bored of the small selections of games quicker than it would take you to actually watch the movies. The games themselves aren't very long, but they are a challenge and you'll probably have to go back through them several times before you hit the high scores. But even then, this is one of those games that was somewhat entertaining back in 1982, but not so much 26 years later. This Xbox Live Arcade version does attempt to give you a few reasons to keep playing (leader boards, achievement points), but it's not enough to warrant the price of the download. Tron is a novelty that may bring back some memories, but it's not one of those games that has held up particularly well.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Remember a few seconds ago when I said that "Tron is a novelty that may bring back some memories, but [is] not one of those games that has held up particularly well?" Well, that hasn't changed. I still say that this game is so old that it will turn off most Xbox 360 owners. Even fans of the original 1982 game will be surprised by how ancient this game feels. To be fair, it is fun to play that light cycle mini-game, but that's not enough of a reason to spend your $5.

Is It Worth The Money?
At five dollars it's not that Tron isn't too expensive, it's the fact that it's just not fun. If you were in a real arcade you could toss in a quarter and find out for yourself that this game isn't fun, but Microsoft is trying to get you to spend more than a quarter to find out how dated Tron is. Download the demo and check out what it has to offer, if you still like it after the demo then be happy, because once you've bought this game and played it for more than five minutes you'll be regretting your decision. Save your $5 and go check out that special edition DVD that came out a few years ago.
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:

Black Tiger (Arcade) -
While not as well known as Magic Sword or The Knights of the Round, Black Tiger is one of Capcom's best 2D arcade games. In a lot of ways Black Tiger feels like a sequel to Ghosts 'N Goblins, only with more of an emphasis on fantasy and dragons. The good news is that Black Tiger holds up better than the original Ghosts 'N Goblins, which is to say that there's no reason you shouldn't go through this fantastic action game. Black Tiger was one of my favorite games on the recent PSP Capcom Classics Collection Remixed, and now you can see how much fun it is for free. It may be the only free game added this week to GameTap, but at least it's a good one!

* 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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