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 only have two games to talk about ... and both of them are on the Virtual Console. I suppose I can't complain, especially after last week's dismal one game showing. Apparently Nintendo has fallen in love with Technos, either that or they've uploaded everything else and they're just now finishing up the Technos back catalog. Either way, with three Technos games in a row it's starting to get a bit ridiculous. Thankfully we have one of the Nintendo 64's best puzzle games. Find out what comes out on top when you read today's episode of Retro Round-up!
What Is It?
Based on the last three weeks worth of Virtual Console games it would be easy to think that Technos was the only developer uploading old NES games. Two weeks ago it was the amazing River City Ransom and last week it was their somewhat disappointing port of Double Dragon. This week Technos returns with yet another 2D brawler, only this time it's Renegade, one of their earliest beat-em-ups. Perhaps it's because this is the third Technos game in a row, but Renegade just doesn't feel as fresh and exciting as it should. Of course, the real problem is that this game actually came out first, before both River City Ransom and Double Dragon ... and it shows. Renegade would be a perfectly acceptable 2D brawler had you never played Final Fight, Streets of Rage or any other game in the genre. But since we have played those games (and twenty years later we actually know what good gameplay is) that means that Renegade is hard to recommend. Some may enjoy the trip back to the old, old days of 2D brawlers, but there's no reason to buy this when you could pick up River City Ransom.
Does It Hold Up?
If you've paid attention to my column the last two weeks then you already know what I'm going to say about Renegade. This is one simple game, the controls are sluggish and you can count the number of moves on one hand. What's worse is how unimaginative the backgrounds are. I suppose one could level the same argument against Double Dragon, but nobody is going to argue that Renegade is a better game than Double Dragon. If you know the history then it makes perfect sense why this game wouldn't hold up, but that doesn't matter when we go about reviewing it.
Is It Worth The Money?
Did you know that River City Ransom is actually a spin-off of Renegade? It's true. And so is Super Dodgeball, the Technos game I suspect we'll be talking about next week. Renegade isn't a terrible game, but it's wholly unnecessary after the releases of River City Ransom and Double Dragon. Maybe if Nintendo had waited more than 7 days to release this I might be more excited, but at this point I'm starting to get Technos burnout. Let's get some more Sega Master System games, Nintendo.
Pokemon Puzzle League
What Is It?
It's Panel de Pon. Or Tetris Attack. Or Yoshi no Panepon. Or Planet Puzzle League. Or Poker Smash. In other words, Pokemon Puzzle League is like a lot of other puzzle games, but that shouldn't keep you from enjoying one of the best puzzle games of all time. What WILL keep you from enjoying this product is the incessant use of the Pokemon sounds. Playing this game can be an exercise in listening to cute characters say the exact same word over and over and over. In other words, it's exactly like the Saturday morning cartoon. Aside from the terrible audio, Pokemon Puzzle League plays a lot like the Nintendo DS game Planet Puzzle League. You basically move a cursor around a large playing surface and try to match pieces together. The object of the game is to get a high score with the use of chains, essentially creating one giant combo of matches. But don't call this a Tetris clone. Beyond the very idea that this game scrolls bottom to top, Pokemon Puzzle League has a very unique feel, the kind of thing that helps set it apart from all the other puzzle games on the Virtual Console.
Does It Hold Up?
Like most puzzle games, Pokemon Puzzle League feels just as fresh today. The controls are quick and simple, the graphics look good (even if they are a bit too colorful, mostly due to the Pokemon license), and there are enough modes to keep you AND your friends busy for days to come. The biggest problem with this game is the license, there's simply no reason for this game to have the Pokemon name attached to it. Planet Puzzle League proved that you didn't need to put a popular character on the game to get people to buy it. You just needed to make a solid puzzle game that gets people hooked. With or without the Pokemon license, Puzzle League is that kind of game.
Is It Worth The Money?
Absolutely, even with the Pokemon license attached. Unfortunately this is not the best version of the game, if you have access to a Nintendo DS then you should just spend the extra few bucks and get Planet Puzzle League, it's a much better title. But as a $10 Virtual Console puzzler, Pokemon Puzzle League is one of the best. And Xbox 360 owners that haven't picked up a Wii, you should go ahead and download the Puzzle League wannabe, Poker Smash. It's the same price ... and features addictive online multiplayer.