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 get not one, but two import Sega releases. But don't be confused by the name, one of these import games has been released in the States before. Check out the reviews of Pulseman and Secret Command, then stick around for our poetry-infused look at this week's WiiWare and DSiWare releases. All this can be yours when you check out another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
Wait ... where has this been all of my life? Only seen on the short-lived Sega Channel, Pulseman is making his proper North American debut on the Virtual Console. Gee, Sega, what the heck took so long? Not only is this one of the best looking 16-bit games I've ever seen, but it has quick action, a load of fun levels and a few interesting ideas that would have made it instantly popular in the States. You play a Mega Man-style protagonist named Pulseman, a half-human, half-artificial intelligence action star. This 2D action game takes you around the world fighting futuristic robots, all while you dodge fire and attempt to save the world. The game takes a lot of good ideas from Sega's past games, including Sonic the Hedgehog and the criminally underappreciated Ristar. Released in 1994 in Japan, it's likely that Pulseman simply came too late to be successfully ported for English speaking countries. But now that the game is available on the Virtual Console, you finally have an opportunity to play this forgotten gem.
Does It Still Hold Up?
For some people the very idea of a 2D game is outdated, but if you like a good platformer, then this game is definitely worth checking out. The controls are tight and the presentation jumps off the screen. There are a lot of little things that really make this game shine, such as the way it looks when you pull of special moves or finally meet your first boss. However, even before that you will be impressed with the way the game turns an old school static signal into something fresh and new. This really is an impressive game that holds up 15 years later.
Is It Worth The Money?
Assuming you like Sonic-style 2D platformers, you absolutely need to check out Pulseman. Not only is this one of the best 16-bit games Sega ever published, but it's one of the best games you've likely never played. How much would you pay for what amounts to a brand new Genesis experience? If you said "under ten dollars" then what are you waiting for?
(Virtual Console/Master System/$6)
What Is It?
It may have been known as Ashura in Japan and Secret Command in Europe, but I'll always know this game under the name Rambo: First Blood Part II. This 8-bit shooter features a top-down view along the lines of Commando and Ikari Warriors. You play a muscle-clad super warrior that can jump into any situation and get the job done. Normally it would be weird to see the European version of a game over the localized North American port, but it's easy to see why Sega wouldn't want to continue to pay licensing fees on an aging action film. Still, it's a shame they didn't release this game alongside the recent Rambo sequel. Even if most people don't know its history, it would still have been a fitting nod to the fans.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Originally released some 23 years ago, Secret Command is showing its age. Beyond the simple graphics and annoying sound effects, the idea of playing this kind of shooter on a D-pad just doesn't make any sense at all. As I played through the game's incredibly short single- and multiplayer campaign, I yearned for a game like Gun.Smoke or MERCS, a title that understands that you need to have consistent control over the weapons you fire. Couple that with dull level designs and very little replay, and you have a game that definitely does not hold up a quarter century later.
Is It Worth the Money?
I'm fine with the game not giving me my 8-bit dose of Sylvester Stallone. What I'm not fine with is the crummy gameplay and boring level designs. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from this 23 year old shooter, but when it comes right down to it there's absolutely no reason to buy this over MERCS. It's definitely cool to see the game without all of the movie licensing attached, I just wish the actual game was worth playing.
WiiWare Limerick Theater
Every week Nintendo announces their new Virtual Console offerings. But what you may not know is that they also announce the newest games for the Wii's specialized WiiWare channel. This is the place where you can download cheap smaller games, the type of titles you would only pay a few dollars for. Thus far we haven't spent much time covering these hidden gems, but today that's going to end. Starting today we're going to cover the WiiWare line-up just as we would any other section. To keep things consistent, we have decided to post all WiiiWare reviews in the form of a limerick. This week we're looking at the three most recently released WiiWare games, including Ant Nation, Bit Boy and Incoming.
I once played a game called Ant Nation, where I tried to open my own corporation. But as the company grew and my taxes came due, I couldn't put up with all the frustration.
There once was a guy named Bit Boy who was incredibly hard to employ. He would yell at the guests and grab on to women's breasts, doing everything he could to annoy.
I once got hit by an incoming rock, thrown by an insensitive jock. He had muscles of metal and a score to settle, so none of this came as much of a shock.
The Great DSiWare Haiku
Not content with the Virtual Console and WiiWare, Nintendo has decided to offer up a THIRD avenue for downloading games. That's right, it's the DSiWare, and it's the best (and only) way to download games to your brand new Nintendo DSi. Each week we take a look at Nintendo's uploads through the form of poetry. Haiku, to be exact. Will these reviews help your purchase of DSiWare games? Nah, but they're a lot of fun to read. Last week we saw a couple of really exciting DSiWare releases. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about this week's release.
2 + 2 is 5.
See, my brain don't need no work.
It be smart enough.