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
After taking a week off, the Retro Round-Up is back with a vengeance! Look out, because this week we have two must-own Virtual Console releases. They include Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and the original Phantasy Star, a game that every RPG fan should have in their collection. On top of that we're looking at both WiiWare and DSiWare games that are all about shaking, pirates and drills. All this and more when you check out another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
What Is It?
Mere weeks after uploading Super Star Wars, Nintendo strikes back with, well, Super Empire Strikes Back! This inevitable sequel brings back everything you loved about the first game (great graphics, fun combat, fast-paced gameplay) and ties it around the best film in the Star Wars canon. They also decided to ramp up the difficulty, making this one of the most difficult Star Wars games I've played. While the game does add a few new ideas here and there (such as having you play a number of different players), much of the game feels like Super Star Wars. But with big bosses and cool level designs, that's hardly a complaint.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Gamers weaned on liberal checkpoints and unlimited continues will be horrified by the difficulty of this game. Outside of the punishing challenge, the controls are responsive and I always felt like I was in control. There are a lot of cheap hits, which is part of the reason this game is so frustrating.
Is It Worth the Money?
Much like Super Star Wars, you don't need to be a fan of the movie to have a good time with Super Empire Strikes Back. My only real complaint is that the emotional core found in the movie doesn't translate well to the 2D video game, otherwise this is a fantastic action game. I wished it felt more original this time around, but there's enough fresh content here to warrant the $8. Regardless of whether you're a fan of the movie or not, Super Empire Strikes Back is worth your time.
What Is It?
In the 30 months I've been writing this column, we've managed to review Phantasy Star II
, Phantasy Star III
and Phantasy Star IV
, but so far the original 1988 Sega Master System game has eluded me. In the past few years I've gone through the game a couple of times, once on the Game Boy Advance collection and again in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. Although I had a great time playing it both times, I came to the same conclusion each time. Phantasy Star is much, much too difficult. The story is strong, I love the use of powerful females (something rare in games of the 1980s) and it sets up a world that I love living in. But all this is marred by the difficulty. This is most apparent at the beginning of the game, where you can barely move anywhere without suffering a casualty. If you're afraid of difficult games then you're best just saving your money (or buying one of the easier Genesis sequels), but RPG fans shouldn't think twice about buying Phantasy Star.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Although small and repetitive, the graphics hold up surprisingly well. The overhead stuff shows its age, but I am a big fan of the way the combat scenes play out. In some ways this game actually depressed me. You see, here we are 21 years later and we're still using a lot of the RPG formulas. Phantasy Star is an incredible game that tells a worthwhile story, that's all you really need to know.
Is It Worth the Money?
When it was first released Phantasy Star went for upwards of $70, making it one expensive adventure game (in case you're wondering, that's $125 in today's dollar). Getting it for a mere $5 is a steal, no matter how you look at it. And if you've been taking my advice, then you will already own the three Genesis sequels. Why not complete the set with one of the greatest RPGs of the 1980s? Just beware of the difficulty; it's out to get you.
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 dig some holes in Mr. Driller World and locate buried treasure in Tales from Monkey Island: Chapter 2!
Mr. Driller World
I once lived next to a Tom Driller; it was back when Michael Jackson was releasing Thriller. At night I would have dreams of hearing noisy screams, years later we learned he was a killer.
Tales from Monkey Island: Chapter 2
I think Monkey Island gave me a bug, I've been nauseous ever since licking that slug. It could have been the water or the ritual pig slaughter, either way I think I need a new drug.
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. This week we take a rock 'n roll time out and add up Pop+Solo and run past Puzzle League Express!
So what's the answer?
Don't leave us hanging like that!
I bet it's "polo."
Puzzle League Express
Stop hurrying me!
Slow and steady wins the race.
Wait ... we aren't racing?