Retro Round-up for November 16

Retro Round-up for November 16

Written by Cyril Lachel on 11/16/2007 for PS3   Wii   360  

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's titles are pretty bad. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they are downright awful. Unfortunately one of these games was not always awful, but time is not always kind to those games we love. Read on to see which game is the best of the worst ...

Axelay
What Is It?
If you asked me just a few days ago what the best Super NES shoot-em-up was I would probably have told you Axelay. This bizarrely named Konami shooter wowed gamers and critics alike with its stunning visuals, fantastic music and non-stop action. But then I decided to go back and play it again for this article (much like I do with all of the retro games featured in this feature) and boy was I shocked by what I found. After about three minutes of nostalgia tripping ("hey, I remember that. Oh, I remember that, too") it started to sink in that Axelay wasn't nearly as good as I remembered it. The graphics don't look as good now as they once did, and the gimmick behind the game (which had a lot to do with the scaling functions on the Super NES) just isn't very impressive anymore. Strip away the graphics and you have an incredibly boring shooter with lame power-ups and not much going for it. The graphics aren't bad, but the Mode 7 effects look terrible by today's standards. Back in the day I would have argued that Axelay was better than all of those other 2D shooters, but looking back on it now it's plain to see that Super R-Type and Gradius III have better withstood the test of time. It's not often I completely flip-flop on a retro game, but Axelay just isn't the high quality game I remember it being.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The problem with basing your game around a technology is that years later (when technology has moved on) the game ends up feeling like a gimmick. It's easy to see why Axelay was so impressive back in the 1990s, but it's also painfully obvious why it's not good by today's standards.

Is It Worth the Money?
It's not that Axelay was a bad game, but the truth is that it was a pretty average shooter masked by some of the best graphics of the time. Sound familiar? It should, because there are plenty of games today that are doing exactly that. In ten years will these games suffer the same fate as Axelay? I guess we'll find out when we post episode 556 of the Retro Round-Up. In the mean time, you should definitely avoid paying $8 for Axelay, chances are your investment will only end in disappointment.

Axelay


Blue's Journey
What Is It?
When the Neo Geo was first released SNK boasted about two very specific things: How amazing the graphics are and how much memory they can fit on a single cartridge. Knowing this I'm not entirely sure how Blue's Journey snuck on the system. For one thing the game was extremely small, so it certainly didn't need a cartridge that could fit a whopping 41 MB of data. And the graphics in Blue's Journey are so bad that it will make you wonder if you're playing a Neo Geo or a Sega Master System. That's not to say you can't have some fun with this game, but this is certainly not the poster boy for great Neo Geo games. Like Wonder Boy and Sonic, Blue's Journey is a colorful 2D platformer where you play a small (and I do mean small) character who fights with leaves, bombs and boomerangs. What sets this game apart is that you can take several different paths while exploring each level, which is a nice play on the linear levels of other 2D platformers. The problem is that we've seen this kind of game before, and there are better 2D platformers already available on the Virtual Console. It's a fun game, but this is hardly the kind of game you would want to write home about.

Does It Still Hold Up?
When the best thing you can say about a game is that it's not another Mario clone, you know something is wrong. Blue's Journey still plays well, but it's not really worth your time. While some of the levels are colorful and full of life, I would just as soon be playing something that is a little more polished and diverse. The gameplay has definitely held up, but I'm under the impression that the game mechanics weren't real fresh even back in 1991.

Is It Worth the Money?
Absolutely not. I'm not going to say that the game is bad (because it's not bad), but it's also not worth $9. So far the Neo Geo selection on the Virtual Console has left a lot to be desired. If we don't start seeing some of the best Neo Geo games (WindJammers, Samurai Shodown, etc.) I'm afraid people are going to stop caring about the SNK releases. Now is the time to give us some amazing Neo Geo games ... and as far as I'm concerned Blue's Journey isn't going to do it.

Blue's Journey


Volleyball
What Is It?
You know you're in trouble when your sports game is named after nothing more than the sport. Think about all of the retro sports games we've already covered (Baseball, Soccer, etc.), none of the generically named sports titles have been very good. In fact, I would argue that they are the worst of the bunch. Even today we are dealing with the same thing, when Sony released NBA on the PSP I knew we were in for a painful few hours of terrible basketball action. So does Volleyball buck the trend? Not at all. Volleyball is easily the least exciting game of virtual volleyball you will ever play. The game is slow, the controls are clumsy, and there really aren't any compelling game modes. Even the multiplayer function is completely forgettable. I suppose some might argue that it's not fair to pick on Nintendo for testing the waters back in the early days of the NES, but that's no reason for them to try to trick us into buying these games again on the Virtual Console.

Does It Still Hold Up?
This game was terrible then ... and surprise surprise, the game is terrible now. If you can look past the terrible graphics and sound, you'll find that there is a real game here. Unfortunately it's a real bad game that is hard to control and even harder to enjoy. This is yet another one of those early sports games that you should just pretend didn't happen.

Is It Worth the Money?
Only if you want to see how much pain you can put your eyes and body through before your brain turns off and you start to rot from the inside. Volleyball is a perfect game to check out if you're having trouble seeing the beauty of today's games. Just can't get it up about Blacksite: Area 51? Just play a few rounds of Volleyball and Blacksite will start to look like the best game you've ever played. Unfortunately I can't recommend Volleyball, which means that I can't recommend any of this week's Virtual Console games. Hopefully this is just one of those off weeks.

volleyball

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

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.
View Profile

comments powered by Disqus