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
There was no update last week due to some technical problems. That means that this week's edition is a very special double episode, where we offer up two of just about everything. We get two completely different Virtual Console games, four different Xbox Live Arcade games and a pair of DSiWare and WiiWare titles. We have quite the show lined up for you, so get comfortable and tune into the Retro Round-Up!
Galaxy Force II
What Is It?
It's just a couple of days after J.J. Abrams' Star Trek rocketed to number one at the box office, breaking records along the way. So what is Nintendo going to do about it? Perhaps give us a Star Trek game? Nah, instead they give us something better - Galaxy Force II. Galaxy Force II is based on the gigantic arcade unit, the same one that simulated real space combat by, well, shaking you around in a big metal egg. Sadly this Virtual Console version doesn't come with a giant egg (I wonder how many Nintendo Points it would cost to get the giant metal egg?). Galaxy Force II is best described as Space Harrier in space ... which is basically what Space Harrier was already. Your job is to shoot at anything that gets in your way and then when you're done with that, you do it some more. The game's levels, bosses and atmosphere are all straight out of Space Harrier, so gamers who have already invested in that mediocre Sega shooter should probably avoid this. On second thought, maybe I would have preferred a Star Trek game.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Absolutely not. Galaxy Force II is tremendously outdated. Since the Genesis hardware didn't support advanced scaling and rotation, the game's animation is rarely smooth. The environments are generally made up of nothing more than two horizontal lines of opposing colors and the enemies repeat far too often. The music is awful and the controls are unresponsive. In a lot of ways the game is like Space Harrier, only not as interesting or original.
Is It Worth the Money?
I know there hasn't been a lot of good Virtual Console games to buy lately, but you definitely need to keep your shields up for this waste of time. With Space Harrier already on the Virtual Console, you're better off just ignoring both and saving your money for something really good. It's only a matter of time before Nintendo starts offering up something good, right? Anybody?
(Virtual Console/Commodore 64/$5)
What Is It?
Tower Toppler is a game where you play as a frog-like creature trying to work his way up an enormous, wait for it, tower. The concept may be simple, but the game is surprisingly engaging. The idea is that you will have to find the right paths, go through the right doors and hit the right elevators to avoid enemies and complete your task. This ends up working well on the Commodore 64, even with the lack of buttons. You aren't going to find anything here that will revolutionize the way you see video gaming, but this is the first must-own Commodore 64 game on the Virtual Console.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics aren't good, but when you talk about the Commodore 64, that comes with the territory. The C64's other technical problems are at play here, including slightly sluggish controls. Ultimately the game can overcome these problems, but be aware of the limitations before you start toppling towers.
Is It Worth the Money?
For months I have been waiting to recommend a Commodore 64 game, and finally I have found that game. Tower Toppler may not look fresh or have deep gameplay, but the mazes are fun and the game can be a real brain buster as you go along. Sure it's a slow moving platformer, but it's unlike anything out on the Virtual Console. And while I usually balk at the price tag for C64 games, I say that five dollars isn't too much for Tower Toppler.
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 something called Penguins & Friends - Hey! That's My Fish ... no, I'm not kidding.
Penguins & Friends - Hey! That's My Fish
There once was a penguin named Trish and she really was a dish, but as weird as it got and as much as we fought, I just couldn't take all of her fish.
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 you read my haikus for Real Soccer!
Real SoccerThe Argument Over Xbox Live Arcade
It's like being there.
The real artificial.
I prefer fake sports.
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. Join us as we catch up on the last two weeks of Xbox Live Arcade by reviewing FOUR games. That's right, four. See what they are below.
I liked this game the first time I played it ... when it was called Breakout. Seriously, how is Arkanoid not a huge Breakout rip-off? This Xbox Live Arcade "update" takes the basic concept and adds a fun multiplayer mode. But is that enough? The core gameplay is the same and, outside of a few additions, the game doesn't feel very updated. Worst of all, the controls just aren't precise enough to hold my interesting. This game just isn't very good, especially when you put it up against Taito's other game this week, Space Invaders Extreme.
You're right about this not being as good as Space Invaders Extreme, but I think you're underselling the excitement of Arkanoid Live. Sure it's just another version of Breakout, but is that a bad thing? Breakout is one of the best games of all time, and this update isn't bad either. You say you had problems with the controls, but I found them to work about as well as I expected. It would have been better with a different control, but you make do with what you have.
Space Invaders Extreme
This is the second of the two Taito releases, and boy is it a doozey. Not only is it a great reboot to an aging shooter, but it's also the first time I actually cared about a Space Invaders game. I love the way this game is set up, you fight through these crazy psychedelic levels one at a time, and then you get to take on a boss ... just like a real shooter. Gone are the boring days of the original game, Space Invaders Extreme is a fast and exciting update to one of the most influential games of all time.
Boring original? You seriously need to have your head examined. The original Space Invaders was anything but boring. Sure the sequels weren't much to talk about, but that doesn't mean that you should make fun of one of the greatest arcade games ever made. Besides, this Space Invaders Extreme isn't as good as you say it is. The game is only five levels long, you can go through it in an afternoon. And this Xbox Live Arcade port didn't exactly add anything new, so PSP owners shouldn't even think about buying this game. I'm sorry, but you're just wrong on this one.
Star Trek D-A-C
How can you not be excited about this game? You saw the movie (EVERYBODY saw the movie), it's full of exciting space battles, hand to hand (to sword) combat and enough Spock to make us completely forget about Star Trek: Enterprise. This Xbox Live Arcade game takes these incredible space battles and turns them into multiplayer fragfests. Resistance is futile!
Are you daft? Yes, the movie was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. And yes, I wouldn't mind seeing an incredible multiplayer Star Trek action game. But man, D-A-C is not that game. This is a 2D overhead shooter with some multiplayer support tacked on for good measure. It's hard to control, hard to look at and never once do we find out what D-A-C means. Beam me out of this mess of a game.
Now here's an interesting concept. At first glance you might think this is just another boring Texas Hold'em game, but it's so much more than that. This is a game about cheating. That means that you can steal chips, bring out new cards and even see what your opponents are rocking. Things get even more exciting when you take it online and play with friends. Combine the cheats to really confuse (and amaze) your friends. This really is an exciting take on Texas Hold'em, well worth checking out.
I can't believe you're recommending this. For one thing, the "new" rules don't really make this game better. Texas Hold'em is a game a game about luck and skill, while this game just feels like it's about luck. I liked some of the ideas, but this felt more like a bonus mode for a more established poker game. I would like to recommend this, but this game has too many problems to be fun.