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 Nintendo has once again decided to ignore the Virtual Console in order to offer a few extra WiiWare games. We're sure they were worth it, but I wouldn't know because we didn't play any of the WiiWare titles this week. Instead we look at the one and only Virtual Console game, Ninja Combat. Sadly this isn't nearly as much fun as Ninja Gaiden II on the Xbox 360, but it does have the word "ninja" in it, right? See what we think of Ninja Combat when you check out this week's episode of the Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
This week Microsoft and Tecmo unleashed their long-awaited action game, Ninja Gaiden II. To commemorate this release Nintendo could have done one of several things. For instance, they could have timed out the release of the Ninja Gaiden games to coincide with this Xbox 360 game. Or they could have bundled all of the Ninja Gaiden games together for a discount price (maybe $12 instead of $15). But that's not what they decided to do. Instead they gave us Ninja Combat, a game that is barely even a ninja game.
Believe it or not you can learn a lot from paying attention to the names of ninja games. From the name Ninja Gaiden we know that it's a story about a ninja. And Ninja Spirit is clearly a game about a ninja and his spirits. But what can we glean from Ninja Combat? Well, it sounds like it's a 2D brawler with ninja characters. If that was your guess then you are 100% right, because in this game you play a ninja-looking character to walks from left to right punching and kicking dudes. Sadly that's all you do. From time to time you'll get authentic ninja weapons, but at the end of the day this has as much in common with ninja lore as Final Fight does. Although it was a moderately successful arcade game, game critics were harsh at this short, repetitive game when it first came out. Technology may have changed in the last dozen years, but this game still sucks.
Does It Still Hold Up?
This game wasn't good when it came out and it's still bad. At its core this is nothing more than a 2D brawler with ninjas, sort of a re-skinned Final Fight or Streets of Rage. To make matters worse, Ninja Combat was a second rate brawler at best, it was more in line with Tuff E Nuff than Streets of Rage. The controls in this game are loose, there basically is no story, the graphics are poor, there's no diversity in the action, and it's over before you know it. Oh, and there's absolutely no challenge. Don't get me wrong, the game is incredibly hard, but you can continue as many times as you want, so you'll easily be able to get through the full game on the first try.
Is It Worth the Money?
Ninja Combat just isn't a good game. It wasn't back when it first came out and it isn't now. I would love to tell the world that time has turned this into a must-play game, but that just isn't the case. At $9 it's hard to recommend a game like Ninja Combat, that money could go towards buying something much, much better. There are so many great Neo Geo games, and yet so far it seems like Nintendo has avoided uploading any of them. Where's Windjammers? Where's Samurai Shodown II? Where's Last Blade? To make matters worse, this is the only Virtual Console game of the week, so you either buy this piece of crap or hope that next week will be better. Man, I really miss the days when Nintendo was uploading three games a week.
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!
Last week GameTap stunned the industry by letting go of their entire editorial division, which included a number of well known game journalists. This week GameTap rebounded by announcing a partnership with Interplay, the company responsible for such games as Earthworm Jim, Fallout and MDK. This agreement will mean that some of Interplays biggest games will be available in the near future, which means that gamers will be able to catch up with the Fallout series before Fallout 3 hits later this year.
In other GameTap news, there isn't a classic console game to review, but that shouldn't stop you from heading over to GameTap
and check out their free offering of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition. I don't think I need to tell you how amazing Deus Ex is, and if you're one of those gamers who never had a chance to play it (or only played the console version), now is your chance. On top of the free game, paid subscribers will also have a chance to go through two PC titles, Astro Fury and Cradle of Rome.