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 may not look very exciting, but it turns out to be one of the best weeks of the year. First up we have Super Dodge Ball for the NES, easily one of the best "sports" games on the Virtual Console. If that's not enough for you we also check out Vectorman for the Genesis, Sega's answer to Contra ... or is it Donkey Kong Country? Oh who cares, let's just get on with another exciting episode of this Retro Round-Up!
NOTE: This week I am flying to San Francisco to attend a Saints Row 2 event
. In fact, depending on when you read this I'll probably still be in California. Due to this scheduling conflict I was unable to review Duke Nukem 3D for the Xbox Live Arcade. Tune in next week for reviews of this and Mega Man 9 for the Wii, PSN and Xbox Live Arcade.
Super Dodge Ball
What Is It?
Hot on the heels of the dismal Pirates vs. Ninja Dodge Ball for the Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo uploads the fantastic Super Dodge Ball by Technos. This isn't just a good game of dodge ball, this is the definitive dodge ball simulator. It may not be much to look at and the gameplay is a little stiff, but you can't do better than Super Dodge Ball for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Trust me, they've tried. No matter how many sequels or updates they make, nobody has been able to recapture the fun and excitement of this two player action game. I call it an action game because that's what it is, it's not a sports game or a fighting game. Super Dodge Ball is nothing more than a 2D brawler where instead of using your fists and feet, you are throwing balls back and forth. Heck, even the characters are in the style of other Technos brawlers (River City Ransom, etc.). The object, like the "sport" it's based on, is to eliminate the other colorful team by hitting them with the giant dodge ball. Couple this with the fast-paced gameplay and the cool locations and you have yourself a real winner.
Does It Hold Up?
Technically Super Dodge Ball is quite poor, the game is loaded with flicker and slowdown problems and the controls are sluggish. But for whatever reason those problems don't seem to hurt this crazy game. In fact, some of the game's most glaring problems feel almost endearing. What's more, it's easy to completely forget about these problems when you have another friend around. Say what you will about the graphics and sound, but there are very few multiplayer games more addictive than Super Dodge Ball.
Is It Worth The Money?
Who would have known that a dodge ball game could be so much fun? Super Dodge Ball excels for every reason that most old school sports games fail. It's not based in reality, it hasn't been eclipsed by modern updates and the matches are both fast-paced and short. It's not the perfect sports games by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a lot more fun than you might think. If you don't plan on having friends over then you may want to think twice about spending the money. Then again, the game is only $5 and should be in every true gamer's library.Vectorman
What Is It?
It would be easy to simply label Vectorman as Sega's answer to the popular Contra franchise, however most Genesis fanboys already know that this title belongs to Treasure's unbeatable Gunstar Heroes. Even if this 2D side-scroller isn't as solid as Gunstar Heroes, you shouldn't hold that against it. Vectorman's gimmick is that it uses pre-rendered 3D models for to create its character, giving the game a very unique look and feel. This visual style doesn't really change the gameplay much, this is still a run and gun action game for those people who can't get enough senseless violence and explosions. The basic gameplay is simple enough, you take the basic Contra gameplay and combine it with futuristic weapons and enemies. What keeps this game fresh (beyond the unusual graphics) is the fast-paced action and interesting locales. If you're a fan of games like Contra, Midnight Resistance and Gunstar Heroes, then there's no reason not to pick up Sega's newest Virtual Console game.
Does It Hold Up?
If you can get over the extremely unfair difficulty (which comes with the territory with this type of game), then you'll find that Vectorman is still remarkably entertaining. The graphics aren't nearly as impressive as they were a decade ago, but they haven't aged as much as you would think. The characters animate smoothly and the gameplay is about as fast as you can get. Vectorman may not be as good as Gunstar Heroes or Contra III: The Alien Wars, but that shouldn't keep you from having a great time with this 16-bit Sega classic.
Is It Worth The Money?
If you're a fan of Contra-style action games then you owe it to yourself to pick up this phenomenal shooter. It may not have the name recognition of some of the other shooters on the Virtual Console, but don't let that keep you from picking this up for $8. My only reservation is that you can get this (and its amazing sequel) for under $20 on the PlayStation 2 and PSP. Eight dollars does seem a bit high for a Genesis game, but I'm still going to recommend it based on its solid gameplay and replay factor. If you've been waiting for a good 2D shooter that doesn't have anything to do with spaceships, then Vectorman is the perfect game for you!