Retro Round-up for July 25th

Retro Round-up for July 25th

Written by Cyril Lachel on 7/25/2008 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. Since we were on location at the E3 Business & Media Summit last week, this week we have a special double episode for you. That means that we'll not only talk about this week's crappy Virtual Console games, but we'll also bring you up to speed with what came out last week. Oh, and there's a bunch of GameTap news, too. All this and more can be yours when you read this week's Retro Round-Up!

Donkey Kong 3
What Is It?
Donkey Kong 3 is the perplexing third installment to one of Nintendo's best loved 8-bit games. Making a complete u-turn from the second installment (Donkey Kong Jr.), Donkey Kong 3 returns to the man vs. gorilla gameplay of the original. In this game you play Stanley the Bugman, a purple-headed fellow that is trying to exterminate a bunch of thieving insects all while he deals with this giant gorilla. I don't know about you, but it seems like one of those targets is significantly more important than the other one. Anyway, Donkey Kong 3 feels more like a Space Invaders clone than an actual Donkey Kong game, which is why this title is so perplexing. It's not that it's bad, but there are only a couple of different levels to play and the actual never gels like it does with the first two Donkey Kong titles. It's certainly fun to go back and remind ourselves of this title, even if it ultimately lets us down with its uneven gameplay and boring level designs.


Does It Hold Up?
I hate to say it, but Donkey Kong 3 just isn't that compelling of a game. Unlike the first two games, the gameplay isn't about platforming, but rather shooting bug spray at insects and a giant monkey. The biggest problem is that the levels repeat far too often, and their difficulty is ramped up in frustrating ways. You could argue the same thing about the first two Donkey Kong games, but at least in those games you were spending more time in each one of the levels. I would mention that the gameplay is sluggish and boring, but at this point it would sound like I was kicking Donkey Kong 3 when it's down.

Is It Worth The Money?
Absolutely not. While it's certainly fun to go back and look at this 22 year old game, there's no reason you should spend five bucks on this repetitive shooter. There are far better shooters available this week, so let's just pretend that Donkey Kong 3 never happened. It's games like this that make me wish that Nintendo would put their Virtual Console games into context. I'm curious to see why this game is so drastically different from the other two games, going from a platformer to what is essentially a vertical shooter. This isn't the worst NES game on the Virtual Console, but that doesn't mean it's worth checking out.


Gley Lancer
What Is It?
Gley Lancer is an R-Type-style 2D shooter that has you piloting a spaceship and shooting everything that gets in your way. The game's gimmick is that you have these two orbiting satellites that can shoot in any direction. If that sounds familiar then it's because you've seen that in about a dozen other 2D shooters from the 1990s, which may explain why this unspectacular shooter was never released in the U.S. The game itself isn't bad, even if just seems to rehash most of the cliches we've come to know and love about the shooter genre. At least the gameplay is quick and the bosses are cool, but outside its rarity there isn't much going for this game. You're better off simply checking out one of the other 2D shooters, because there are already two dozen 16-bit shooters that look and play exactly like this import.


Does It Hold Up?
The gameplay is sound and the weapons are good, but there's a complete lack of originality. Even in 1992 this game felt formulaic. That's not to say you can't have some fun with this title, but Gley Lancer is too much like every other space shoot-em-up on the Genesis.

Is It Worth The Money?
Gley Lancer reminds me that nobody has brought the amazing Gaiares, that's easily one of the best 16-bit shooters out there. The game looks good and there are some cool items and bosses throughout the game, but you've been here before. At nine dollars this import shooter just isn't worth it. Maybe if this game did something new and original it would be worthwhile, but I just don't see that from this title. You're better off spending your money on Super Fantasy Zone.


Ninja Commando
What Is It?
Ninja Commando is the slightly improved sequel to one of the worst Neo Geo games of all time, Ninja Combat. This time around SNK has decided to take a terrible 2D brawler and turn it into a vertical shooter. Hmm, didn't we just get done talking about Donkey Kong doing the same thing? Well, anyway, Ninja Commando actually shares a lot with Capcom's classic Gun.Smoke, though this action/shooter concoction doesn't have the charm (or racism). The graphics are plain and the enemies repeat far too often. Couple this with sluggish controls and a boring story and you have yet another incredibly bad game for the Neo Geo. On the plus side this isn't Ninja Combat, but that doesn't make up for the fact that this is nine dollars. Seriously, nine dollars for Ninja Commando? Nintendo must have figured they could sneak that by us since we were busy covering E3. Pretty tricky Nintendo, pretty tricky.


Does It Hold Up?
Absolutely not, this is an arcade action game that is designed for one thing and one thing only - to take your quarters. The enemies are cheap and the bosses are beyond lame. What's worse, the gameplay isn't very good. The game's controls are sluggish at best and you're essentially fighting the same enemies over and over again. The fewer words we say about Ninja Commando the better it is for all of us.

Is It Worth The Money?
Think about all of the great Neo Geo games Nintendo could be uploading, but instead we get crap like Ninja Commando. Look, I'll admit that this is better than Ninja Combat, but that's like comparing sewage water to moldy toast. There's nothing compelling about this game, it simply exists because somebody thought that a ninja shooting game made sense. And maybe it does, but this game isn't the one to marry those two ideas. At nine dollars you're better off buying one of the two import Mega Drive games this week. Come on Nintendo; give us some good Neo Geo product so I can start praising my favorite SNK console.Super Fantasy Zone
What Is It?
Released six years after the original, Super Fantasy Zone is the 16-bit sequel to one of Sega's trippiest shooters. The concept remains the same; you play an adorable little space craft (with feet) that flies back and forth dodging enemies and shooting down larger enemy generators. In a lot of ways this game feels like an extra adorable sequel to Defender, one of the earliest 2D shoot-em-ups. This 16-bit sequel isn't very different from the original game, but it does offer better looking levels, some cool bosses and a few extra twists here and there. But the reason to download this game is because it's the first time we've ever seen Super Fantasy Zone released in the United States. Up until now this Sega classic has only been available in Japan, which boggles the mind given how polished the game feels. It may not be the most revolutionary game of the week, but Super Fantasy Zone is well worth checking out.


Does It Still Hold Up?
The gameplay is admittedly simple, but there aren't that many games like this on the Virtual Console. Outside of the original Fantasy Zone, this is just about the only other 2D shooter that wants you to go both backwards and forwards, never forcing you in one direction. The new enemies and bosses are pretty cool, but this is ultimately the same old game you played in the arcades and on the Sega Master System. Still, I would say that the gameplay holds up for what it's trying to accomplish.

Is It Worth The Money?
Even if this game had been released in the U.S. I would still say it's worth your nine dollars, but given the fact that this has been extremely rare, I would argue that Super Fantasy Zone is a must-buy. Sure it has its faults, Sega could have done more to upgrade the gameplay, it's on the short side and the gameplay can be occasionally frustrating. Even then, Super Fantasy Zone manages to keep you entertained with crisp graphics, cool backgrounds and a level of weird that you don't normally see in 2D shooters. It may be a dollar more, but Super Fantasy Zone is well worth your money.


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!

We have two week's worth of content to get to and not a lot of time, so let's just start with the Gold Member subscription games. Last week we saw the release of Inca Ball and Freespace 2. If that's not enough for you, then this week you can download Aveyond 2 and Battle Chess. But wait, that's not it. If the news about Fallout 3 whet your appetite, then why not check out the original Fallout? Now you can thanks to GameTap.


In other news, GameTap signed an agreement with THQ, which means that we will start seeing games like Company of Heroes, Red Faction, Supreme Commander, Titan Quest, Saints Row 2, Puzzle Quest and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. There are definitely some good games in that list, but I do worry that we'll start seeing THQ's terrible console games from the early 1990s. Hopefully this agreement won't mean that I'll have to play ports of the Home Alone games.

To wrap things up I want to talk a little about GameTap's newest innovation, the ability to use GameTap in your browser! That's right, not only is this service free, but you don't need to download and install any software. All you do is pick the game you want (at the moment there are just over 40 titles available) and play using the keyboard. Some of these games work just fine, but playing Street Fighter II with a keyboard is the truest test of one's frustration level. Either way, this brand new service is worth checking out. My only real gripe is that it does not work in FireFox, the preferred browser around the GamingNexus offices.

* 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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