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 really don't have that much to talk about. The sad fact is that there's only one Virtual Console game to review and nothing in the way of classic console games on GameTap. Talk about a depressing week. I would say that it can't get any worse, but I fear that Nintendo could go back to not giving us anything. Regardless, join us as we take a look at this week's episode of the Retro Round-Up ...
What Is It?
Week after week I have complained about SNK's offerings on the Virtual Console. I've dismissed Fatal Fury out of hand, painted over Art of Fighting and argued against World Heroes. Week in and week out I played these disappointing Neo Geo games hoping (praying) that somebody would get their act together and give us something good. Well, this week Nintendo has given us something good ... but for whatever reason I'm still not happy. This is Samurai Shodown, the first game in one of SNK's best 2D fighting games. Mixing amazing artwork with weapon-based combat, Samurai Shodown proved that you could do more with the one-on-one fighter than just a Street Fighter clone. Best of all, Samurai Shodown features some of the coolest video game characters SNK ever came up with. Forget Duck King and Muscle Power, Haohmaru, Nakoruru and Charlotte Christine Colde are the way to go. Although Samurai Shodown has been released on a number of game consoles (Genesis, Super NES, Game Gear, 3DO, etc.), none of the ports have been able to match the original arcade game. Now, thanks to Nintendo, you can buy this fantastic fighting game for a mere $9. That's a lot better than the $200 they wanted for the game back in 1993.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The action is a little slow (especially compared to recent fighters), but Samurai Shodown still feels good. This is a series that has always felt a little different from a lot of other 2D fighters, so gamers expecting this game to play like Street Fighter II will be disappointed. The game also manages to hold up in the visual department, thanks in large part to the beautiful hand drawn backgrounds. The characters look fantastic and everything animates wonderfully. It's easy to forget how good some of these older Neo Geo games looked back in the day.
Is It Worth the Money?
I don't think I have ever been more conflicted than I am right now. Let's face it, Samurai Shodown is an absolutely amazing game, easily one of SNK's greatest fighting games. I also think that it holds up remarkably well, certainly better than Mortal Kombat or Killer Instinct. This is a game that I love, yet as much as I want to I simply cannot recommend it. Don't get me wrong, if you buy this game you will love it, but there are two BIG reasons why you should not spend the $9 on this product. The first reason is similar to <a href="http://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/Retro-Round-up-for-May-29th/Item1846.aspx" target="blank_"><b>Metal Slug</b></a>, there's no reason to buy this single game when you can buy the full Samurai Shodown collection for a fraction of the price. Sadly even if you took that element out of the equation this game still wouldn't be worth it. As good as Samurai Shodown is, it's the sequel that everybody should be waiting for. Samurai Shodown 2 is far and away a better game and is bound to be on the Virtual Console sooner than later. If you really must buy this game then you'll have a great time, but you could do so much better.
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!
After last week's Earthworm Jim blowout I wondered what GameTap could do to top that. Apparently the answer is nothing, because this week they didn't even try. While this week is definitely a quieter week, you shouldn't take that to mean that it's not worth checking out. On the Gold level (paid subscription) we have the amazingly violent (yet endearing) MDK, one of my favorite PC games of the mid-1990s. Gold members can also check out Descent II, the sequel to the vertigo-inducing first-person flying/shooter game. And if those aren't your cup of tea, you can also check out Cosmic Osmo.
Sadly the quality of free games takes a serious hit when compared to the Gold level games. Fans of card games can check out Five Card Deluxe, a three year old card game. Oh, and don't forget about Dracula Twins. On second thought, feel free to forget. Here's hoping that next week's GameTap offerings are a little juicier.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
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.