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 we have yet another solid (albeit small) helping of retro goodness. Nintendo really came through with a solid Virtual Console title and GameTap has a real treat for people who hate paying for their service. Hopefully we'll continue to get games like this all throughout the year, if so then I'll completely forgive Nintendo for only uploading one game a week. Find out what game comes out on top when you read this week's exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
What Is It?
It's no mystery to why, despite being followed by dozens of sequels, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse still remains one of the best games in the franchise. Although the graphics have been outmoded and the gameplay can be occasionally stiff, Konami has crafted a phenomenal 2D action game that manages to be every bit as good as the Symphony of the Night and every other must-own Castlevania game. This is a completely different experience to what came before (and after) it, offering an epic adventure that twists and turns and features more than one playable character. This is a masterpiece and you would be insane to not spend five bucks on one of the very best 2D action games of all time.
Instead of taking what worked about Simon's Quest, Castlevania III opts for a brand new style of gameplay where you get to choose where you want to go and do what you want to do. While not exactly Grand Theft Auto, this third proper Castlevania game does give you an awful lot of freedom you normally wouldn't have. Better still, along the way you will run into brand new characters that will aide you on your quest and become playable as the game goes on. Oh, and did I mention that one of the supporting roles is played by none other than Alucard? Throw in some great boss fights, a lengthy adventure and some cool level designs and you have one of the best games ever made for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Does It Still Hold Up?
I knew the graphics weren't going to be on par with recent Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS adventures, but I was surprised at how bad some of the sprites looked. Thankfully the game's outdated graphics don't hurt it any, especially when you're in the middle of an epic battle with Frankenstein. I also noticed that the controls aren't as refined as they are in more recent Castlevania games, but that goes with the territory. What I did find refreshing was the choose-your-own-adventure style approach to the levels. I really enjoyed having a choice over where I went and when. The alternate playable characters are also a plus, especially when you realize that each of them has a place and an important duty. Fans of newer Castlevania games may be put off when they realize that the game features traditional levels and not the open-world Metroid-style castle. However, if you can get over that cliche you will find that Castlevania III has held up better than anybody could have anticipated at the time.
Is It Worth The Money?
It almost doesn't matter what price Nintendo listed, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse would be worth spending the money. It's hard to argue with five dollars, especially when we're talking about one of the best games of all time. Outside of the graphics and sound, this Castlevania stands tall with the rest of the sequels, especially when you are introduced to the supporting cast. Seeing how well Konami did was Rondo of Blood on the PSP, I wouldn't mind seeing an updated version of this masterpiece brought to one of the consoles (Xbox Live Arcade, perhaps?). I have always had a soft spot for Simon and the rest of his whip-loving family, but even people new to the franchise should check out this stunning accomplishment.
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!
It's another week full of mostly good GameTap games, which is really saying something after all those terrible weeks of American McGee's Grimm. This week non-paying subscribers get rewarded with one of the best games of all time, Sid Meier's Pirates! On the other hand, Gold Level subscribers are given a couple of so-so games, neither of which is going to catch the world on fire. Up first is Mahjong Investigation: Under Suspicion, which sounds like the worst Law & Order episode of all time. There's also Shattered Union, which feels like the perfect game to upload in the final week of Bush's presidency. As usual I plan on reviewing these games by using the ancient art of haiku poetry. Don't believe me? Read on and see what I mean!
Sid Meier's Pirates! (Free)
Ahoy ye matey!
Sid hits another homerun.
This time in costume.
Mahjong Investigations: Under Suspicion
Call Peter Sellers!
There's a Mahjong mystery!
I didn't do it!
What is going on?
Somebody broke the U.S.!
Only four more days!