Retro Round-up for November 27

Retro Round-up for November 27

Written by Cyril Lachel on 11/27/2009 for 360   PS3   Wii  

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 make up for lost time and review the past SIX Virtual Console releases. You read that right; we have six games to go through. We have everything from a game about a shape-shifting blob to the duplicated adventures of Wonder Boy to Street Fighter to Indiana Jones himself. We have a packed show full of good, bad and very average games. So, let's stop talking about what's on the show and actually dig into these retro reviews. It's time once again for another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!

A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia (NES/$5)
What Is It?
David Crane hates you! Developed by the mind that brought you Pitfall!, A Boy and His Blob is David Crane's very first NES game. The idea is simple enough, you solve puzzles by feeding your obedient blob jelly beans. That's right, jelly beans. Each jelly bean transforms the your blog into a helpful device, perfect for getting you over obstacles and onto tall ledges. You'll use the vanilla umbrella, the root beer rocket, the tangerine trampoline and the ketchup which, well, I'm sure you can figure it out. This concept rocks, but the execution errors on the side of brutal. The difficulty is extreme, you have only enough jelly beans to beat the game and at first you have no idea what you're supposed to do. This is brutal game development, the kind of game that will no doubt turn off many gamers.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Hey look, it's an open world game ... on the 8-bit NES! While this may not be Grand Theft Auto IV, it does have a lot of forward thinking gameplay ideas. I love the concept of the game, even if the actual game looks and feels like it should be on the Atari 2600. The controls are stiff and hard to get used to and the difficulty is so brutal that it's almost no fun at times. If you can get over these two problems, then you are set to enjoy a slightly outdated action/puzzle hybrid.

Is It Worth The Money?
Look, if you're the kind of person who is easily annoyed at games, then don't, under any circumstance, buy this game. It's not that A Boy and His Blob is a bad game, it's not. I personally love the game and fully recommend it to anybody up for a challenging action/puzzle game, but this is not for the faint of heart. If you're anything like me, then you'll curse David Crane for half of the game. And then it will click, and you'll memorize what you're supposed to do. If that doesn't sound like your type of game, then maybe you should check out the recent reimagining of A Boy and His Blob put out by Majesco.


Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine (Commodore 64/$5)
What Is It?
Cybernoid is one confusing game. On the surface this Commodore 64 game looks like all of the other space shoot-em-ups on the Virtual Console (Gradius, R-Type, etc.). But look closer, because you'll find something much more interesting. This is a space exploration game, think Metroid in a space ship. This means that you are flying through a connected world looking for power-ups and battling whatever gets in your way. But just because it resembles Metroid, don't take that to mean that it's easier than the rest of the shooters on the Virtual Console. Thanks in part to the Commodore 64's hardware; levels that look simple are often complicated by sluggish controls and cheap shots. Still, it's easy to have a great time in a game like Cybernoid. This is extremely forward thinking for the C64, the type of game that is due for a serious update.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics are understandably crude and the gameplay is often sluggish and difficult, these are the game's real problem areas. However, the unique power-ups and cool level designs more than make up for the shortcomings. This is definitely one of the better Commodore 64 games on the Virtual Console.

Is It Worth The Money?
Anybody buying a Commodore 64 game should already expect outdated graphics and gameplay. This is a solid shooter, even if it's marred by some archaic gameplay decisions. I love the sense of exploration and the power-ups, even if I found myself angry over cheap deaths and a brutal difficulty. In a sea of Gradius rip-offs, I'm glad to see something unique hit Nintendo's download service. Definitely give Cybernoid a try.


Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (Super NES/$8)
What Is It?
Seeing the success of the Super Star Wars trilogy, Factor 5 set out to conquer the Indiana Jones trilogy. You would think that a whip would be as compelling a weapon as the light saber, but you would be wrong. This is a basic run and whip action game where you visit famous locations from the movie and battle Nazis and snakes. The problem is that the action isn't as imaginative this time around. You're fighting a lot of similar looking characters in areas that are hard to differentiate between one another. Worse yet, many of the best scenes from the trilogy are simply edited out of the game, leaving a so-so mix of mediocre action and predictable levels. That's not to say that you can't have fun with this game, but if you're expecting an action game on the scale of Super Star Wars, then you will definitely need to look elsewhere.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The controls are good and the music is surprisingly strong (even if it's easy to get annoyed by the faux-John Williams' score), but the levels are pretty dull and the whole thing is a little too repetitive. Still, the graphics are strong and there's enough challenge to keep you going for awhile. I say this game holds up ... it's just not much fun.

Is It Worth The Money?
While I was certainly disappointed by the game after coming off of the Super Star Wars series, I can't say that this is a bad game. It's missing a lot of components that made the film series so memorable and the levels could have been better designed, but it's not a bad game. If you're a huge fan of the series then maybe you'll have more fun than I did, I say give it a try if there's nothing else worth picking up. It's not terrible; it's just not the most exciting title on the Virtual Console.

Street Fighter II': Champion Edition (TurboDuo/$7)
What Is It?
Think you've played every Street Fighter game ever released? Well, you haven't! This week Nintendo uploads the long-lost Street Fighter II: Champion Edition for the PC Engine (the Japanese TurboGrafx-16). Even though we already have FOUR different versions of the game on the Virtual Console (not including Fighting Street), Nintendo saw fit to upload this 2D fighter for the fifth time. In case you've never heard of Street Fighter II, it's the game where you pick a character and ... okay, seriously, EVERYBODY has heard of Street Fighter II. Even if you have only played games on the Virtual Console, you've still seen it four times already. This PC Engine game was import-only and most gamers outside of Japan never played it, but with muted colors and tinny sound it's hard to recommend this game over the Super NES ports (or the original).

Does It Still Hold Up?
There's no question that Street Fighter II holds up, the game is loaded with enough depth to keep people playing almost two decades after it was first released. This version features all of the World Warriors, famous stages and music. Of course, the graphics are a little worse, the music isn't as strong and the gameplay isn't as tight as other versions. The game definitely holds up, even if this version of Street Fighter II doesn't quite deliver.

Is It Worth The Money?
My first instinct is to be extremely happy with this addition. As a huge Street Fighter fan, I have always wanted to play the PC Engine game that never made it over to these shores. But that's not something I've thought much about in a world full of perfect arcade ports and online play. This version of the game is being released more than a decade too late. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that we have three Super NES ports and a Genesis port already on the Virtual Console. This version doesn't offer anything the others don't, so there's no reason to buy it. In fact, this version is noticeably worse than both the Super NES and Genesis ports, which leads me to question why anybody would even think about picking up this long overdue (and overpriced) PC Engine title.


Super Mario Kart (Super NES/$8)
What Is It?
It's easy to get sucked back into a lengthy Super Mario Kart play session. I did it just this week, seeing that Nintendo finally uploaded the 1992 classic to the Virtual Console. With short tracks and a mellow play style, I had no problem sitting there glued to the screen for a couple of hours without pause. The reason for this is because Nintendo hasn't done much to update the formula in the 17 years since the game hit store shelves. Oh sure, they've added more interesting tracks, better graphics, new weapons and even a couple of fresh faces, but those things are all added to the already phenomenal game engine. The improved graphics and sound of the Wii version don't make it better, though I would certainly argue that the addition of hills and valleys in the course make this Super NES game feel a bit quaint. Also addictive is the multiplayer mode, both battle and race modes. The battle mode has been improved in subsequent sequels (as well as Twisted Metal), but it's impossible to resist a two-player race in Mario Kart.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The core gameplay remains intact in this 17 year old game. And while that sounds like a good thing, it actually kind of angered me. It's been almost two decades and there have been very few changes to the Super Mario Kart franchise. Still, we can't judge this original game on the disappointments of the sequels. The racing feels natural and the tracks still hold up quite well. The only real problem I have is that it's a two-player game and there's no online support.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you already own the Super Mario Kart DS game, then you have the definitive version of this series. It not only features most of the best tracks from the sequels, but also a handful of solid tracks from this original game. Still, there's nothing like going through the original game. It's not the deepest game Nintendo has developed, but it's certainly one of the most fun. I'm not a big fan of the $8 asking price, but I would personally buy this over the slightly more expensive Nintendo 64 version. But that's just me.


Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (Master System/$5)
What Is It?
It's easy to forget how much fun the Wonder Boy franchise is. When I'm between Wonder Boy adventures I have a funny way of writing the series off, yet I genuinely enjoyed both Wonder Boy and Wonder Boy in Monster Land. This is the third (and final) 8-bit adventure for Wonder Boy, and it's a real doozy. The Dragon's Trap offers Metroid-style exploration and a real sense of adventure, something missing from his other two outings. It looks strong, has a solid story and is easy to control. With all this going for it, I guess the question is simple - why am I not recommending it? The sad fact is, this game has already been released on the Virtual Console. Known as Dragon's Curse, this TurboGrafx-16 release was one of the first games released on the Virtual Console. The NEC version features better graphics, improved sound and none of the flickers and slowdowns found in the Master System game. It is the definitive version, which makes me wonder why Nintendo would, yet again, upload a duplicate game.

Does It Still Hold Up?
No matter which version you play, the controls are good, the graphics are sharp (for the time) and the story is involving. This is one of the very best Wonder Boy games, one that holds up remarkably well when placed against games of today.

Is It Worth The Money?
I know it's stupid to complain now that Nintendo has doubled their weekly retro output, but most of the time it seems like they are simply duplicating games already on the system. This week it's Dragon's Curse, last time it was R-Type and let's not forget about Altered Beast and Golden Axe. There's no reason to buy this version of the game, and I wish Nintendo would do a better job at warning people that it's a duplicate release. Still, if you do pick up this Master System game you'll no doubt have a great time with it. So while I can't recommend it, I do say that you should give this game a try, no matter which version you ultimately buy.

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

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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.
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