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
We're back after a week off thanks to the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. This week we're not only spending time with the recently released downloadable content, but also what we missed last week. Join us as we take a look at Boulder Dash, Genghis Khan II, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Altered Beast, Gunstar Heroes and many, many more. This is a giant pile of the Retro Round-Up that you simply cannot miss!
(First Star Software/Commodore 64/$5)
What Is It?
Rockford has a kickass name and a tough job ahead of him. His plan is to dig. And when I say dig, I mean that he's going to make his way through cave after cave dodging enemies, avoiding traps and, most importantly, collecting gems and other rare items. This is Boulder Dash, the popular digging simulator from the mid 1980s. Although there was a Nintendo Entertainment System port, this Virtual Console release brings us the Commodore 64 original. With outdated graphics and a high price tag, Boulder Dash may not be everybody's cup of tea. But it's nice to see that not every game on the Commodore 64 was woefully out of date. Boulder Dash will immediately remind you of other, more recent "classics," but don't let that keep you from playing one of the Commodore 64's very best games.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Did you know that there's a PSP version of this game coming out this year? It's true. The only reason I bring that up is to get your attention away from the horribly outdated graphics, sound and gameplay. Don't get me wrong, this game is still playable, but there's something about the way the game feels that just screams 1980! Patient gamers will find that this is an exciting action game full of original concepts and ideas.
Is It Worth the Money?
As a five dollar game, I say you could do a lot worse than Boulder Dash. What was exceptional a quarter century ago is not merely decent, but I say decent is good enough to warrant the five dollar price tag. I wonder why Nintendo chose to go with this C64 version and not the NES port, either way this is definitely a lot of fun.
Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf
What Is It?
Like Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf was one of those strategy games that I never understood. All these years I figured that it was because I was too young when these games came out. But now that I've been checking them out on the Virtual Console I am finding that I have many of the same problems. This is the sequel to the 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System, and outside of a new story, multiplayer support and slightly improved graphics, very little has changed. What's interesting is that for whatever reason we never saw the original Genghis Khan release on the Virtual Console. At its core this is a strategy game about conquering other lands and cultures, but it's done in such a complicated way that you'll be micromanaging everything and constantly confused. The two-player support is nice to bring somebody else in on the confusion. With outdated graphics and needlessly complicated menus, Clan of the Gray Wolf is hard to fully recommend.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics and sound remind me of an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System game and all you're doing is clicking through menu after menu. The good news is that the controls are responsive and easy to use, it's just that everything else is archaic. These games were never about flashy graphics and fast gameplay, so at the end of the day it doesn't much matter how well they hold up.
Is It Worth the Money?
Are you already a fan of Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms? If you are, then you should just move on to my WiiWare limericks, because nothing I have to say is going to matter. This is one of those games I can't get into. That doesn't make it bad, but it does make me feel like an idiot. If you are like me and get confused by Koei's 16-bit entries, then you should avoid this game at all cost. Everybody else should approach this game with extreme caution.
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 come up with some rhymes about a Final Fantasy IV sequel, Fish'em All, Swords & Soldiers and Texas Hold'em!
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
There once was a jerk named Kain and he's starting to act insane. He filled a pool with diesel to attract a guy named Cecil and that's just the start of his evil campaign.
There once was a game called Fish'em All and it almost got me into a brawl. I almost grabbed the knife to stab when my friend stole my crab, but he was already giving the police a call.
Swords & Soldiers
I once decided to train with a sword, it's because I was really bored. But after losing a thumb I realized it was dumb, and I let somebody else deal with the killer horde.
Texas Hold'em Tournamen
t (Digital Leisure)
Texas Hold'em is fun, that's for sure. And I have a hunch that you'll concur. Why are you being a joker? Quit calling it poker. 'Cause it's true that I barely knew her.
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. See for yourself when we review Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again and Mighty Flip Champs!
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again
Think you can stop us?
We're small and taking you down.
Like Gary Coleman!
Mighty Flip Champs
We jump all around.
And we flip over your head.
We live a sad life.
The Argument Over Xbox Live Arcade
Now that you've had your fill of the Virtual Console, maybe it's time to check out This Week in Xbox Live Arcade. This is the part of our show where we take a look at the brand new Xbox Live Arcade titles, and then review them using our unique POINT/COUNTERPOINT style. In these reviews I will make a solid point about a game, and then I will argue the other side just to confuse everything. What do I really think about this week's Xbox Live Arcade game? I guess you'll never know. Instead you get what has to be the single least useful review ever posted on this website. This week Sega decided to upload six classic 8- and 16-bit games. We're talking about Altered Beast, Gunstar Heroes, Comix Zone, Phantasy Star, Shinobi (Arcade) and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. While these are some good games, we've decided to review the full package.
Sega's Vintage Classics 2
(Sega/$5 per game)
For the most part these Sega Vintage Classics are worth owning. I love Comix Zone, Phantasy Star II and Gunstar Heroes. But why the high price tag, Sega? For the price of these six games you could get the entire Sonic's Ultimate Genesis collection, which not only features five of these games, but also offers 43 other titles to choose from. There's no reason for Sega to offer these games in both formats. And really, there's even less reason for you to give in to Sega's lame money grab and buy them individually. Run to the store RIGHT NOW and pick up Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, it's one of the best compilation discs in years.
Yes, Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is a strong release. I love that there are almost 50 games for less than the price of a standard Xbox 360 game. But I think you're missing the point of these six releases. Sega has actually added content to some of these releases. For example, some of these games now have two-player online support. And all of them have achievements to earn. And what about Gunstar Heroes? That game isn't even part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. That's one of the best 16-bit games of all time and it's not part of the Ultimate Genesis package? Even if you ignore most of this collection, make sure and pick up Gunstar Heroes for the two-player Xbox Live support.