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 have a lot of games to talk about, so let's not waste any precious time. Up first we have the first (and arguably best) Alex Kidd game, followed closely by Burning Fight for the Neo Geo. And then we hit the jackpot as GameTap gives us 14 (yes, 14) games to talk about. What are our favorites? Find out now when you read the final June episode of Retro Round-Up ...
Alex Kidd in Miracle World
What Is It?
Years before Sega had Sonic the Hedgehog; they had two mascot characters that did their best to hold their own against the mighty Mario and Luigi. I'm of course talking about Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy. While Wonder Boy has appeared in numerous forms on the Virtual Console, so far Alex Kidd has been completely forgotten. That is, until this week. While this isn't the first time Alex Kidd found his way onto the Virtual Console (see: <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-5" target="blank_"><b>This Week in Defunct Games from April 12, 2007</b></a>), this is the first time we have a reasonably good Alex Kidd game to talk about. To compare Alex Kidd to Mario or Sonic is silly, because this 2D franchise is more than just jumping on your enemies. Alex's gimmick is that he has a really, really large fist, which is, of course, great for punching his enemies. He also finds himself in incredibly bizarre worlds that have him going from land to water to sky seamlessly. This adventure in Miracle World is Alex Kidd's first outing, and as a first-generation Sega Master System game it's quite an accomplishment. The graphics, while not spectacular by today's standards, have a unique style and the action is fast and easy to control. It's great to see Nintendo finally upload one of the good Alex Kidd games, hopefully this is just the beginning.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics are sharp and the controls are good, but the one thing you'll notice about this game is how difficult it is. You can earn extra lives, but this is not one of those games where you have unlimited continues and can mess up as many times as you want. This is a game where you really have to work at not getting hit by enemies, which can sometimes be difficult given your character's short range attacks. If the game wasn't so difficult I would say that it holds up well, but it's that one thing that will keep a lot of players from getting the most out of Alex Kidd in Miracle World.
Is It Worth The Money?
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is not perfect, but it's a fantastic light-hearted romp. Best of all, it's a 2D platformer that hasn't been ported to a lot of consoles and compilations. Fans of Super Mario Bros. will probably get a kick out of this punchy platformer, but the extreme difficulty will likely chase a lot of players off. At five dollars I say you should give it a go, even if you die a few times you'll still want to go back through it and see where the Miracle World takes you.
What Is It?
Burning Fight is basically SNK's answer to Double Dragon. You pick from three different guys and then walk around the city streets beating up punks and making your home safe to live. Everything that you know and love about Final Fight is here, from the incredibly cheap bosses to the trash cans with food to the lame weapons to the barrels you will have to jump over from time to time. The reason it's all here is because this is a blatant rip-off of one of Capcom's best arcade games. If you can get over the sameness then you will find that this is a somewhat enjoyable 2D brawler, but it's hard to divorce yourself from the idea that this is just a reskinned version of Final Fight. What's worse, as a home game Burning Fight completely fails. Not only is the game extremely short, but it also gives you unlimited continues, which ends up making this title a little too easy. Having said that, Burning Fight is no worse than some of the Neo Geo games ported to the Virtual Console. This is just another lame SNK game getting in the way of the high quality Neo Geo content that is sure to come.
Does It Still Hold Up?
In the past I've mentioned that the Double Dragon formula (seen in games like Final Fight, Captain Commando, Streets of Rage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.) feels a little outdated. There really wasn't that much technique to those old games ... and this is no exception. To make matters worse, the graphics and art style in this game are ugly beyond words and the controls are never as responsive as you want them to be. I hate to say it, but Burning Fight does not hold up.
Is It Worth The Money?
At best Burning Fight is in the second or third tier of 2D brawlers, hovering around Tuff E Nuff and Rival Turf. The nine dollar asking price is a joke; there is no more than fifty cents worth of enjoyment to be had in this game. I understand why SNK would make a Double Dragon clone, but Burning Fight is not a very good one. You should just hold out for the better Neo Geo games that are sure to be hitting the Virtual Console any day now.This Week in GameTap
Still not satisfied with what you're getting on the Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade? Then maybe you should head on over to GameTap
! With more than 100 free games currently available, GameTap
is one of the best places to play classic games! And every week they are adding brand new titles to the service, including old school games for the Genesis, Neo Geo, Commodore 64 and much, much more. Won't you join us as we take a look at what's going on this week over at GameTap!
This week GameTap outdid themselves by uploading 14 different games, 11 of which are free! Gold member subscribers will now be able to check out American Deer Hunting and Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords. And continuing the month of Interplay games, GameTap will also be uploading Descent III. But that's all child's play compared to the mountain of retro games that are free starting today. Here's a look at the most relevant titles added to GameTap this week ...
3 Count Bout
3 Count Bout is one of SNK's third tier arcade fighters. It's a two-player wrestling game that tries to be original and edgy, but ends up being a poor substitute for the other fighting games on the Neo Geo. About the only reason to download this game is to check out the incredibly cheesy roster. The characters aren't quite as wacky as what you get in the WWE, but they are silly enough to where you may be a bit embarrassed to show people what you're playing. Regardless of the characters, the real problem with 3Count Bout is that it isn't as deep or fun as your standard SNK fighting game, which makes me wonder why anybody would play this over, say, Samurai Shodown II.
I've always been a big fan of the Bust-A-Move series (known as Puzzle Bobble in many other parts of the world). This arcade sequel isn't bad, but it's also unnecessary. It didn't exactly add a lot to the Bust-A-Move franchise and was only made to grab a few extra quarters out of the pockets of kids. Oddly enough, this isn't the only Bust-A-Move game currently available for free on GameTap. Cheapskates will also find the original Bust-A- Move, which is a simpler (and better) overall experience. Those looking for upgraded graphics may want to check out this "sequel", but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't add enough new to really be considered a proper sequel.
Capcom Sports Club
Think Wii Sports was the first game to package a bunch of sports together? Well, think again. Because Capcom Sports Club did that 11 years ago. Okay, maybe it wasn't that novel of an idea even in 1997, but that didn't stop Capcom from making fools of themselves by releasing this terrible sports compilation. Sports fans can "play" three different events - tennis, soccer and basketball. Every one of these sports is broken in one form or another, ultimately making this game unplayable. The graphics are good and Capcom knows a thing or two about presentation, but I wouldn't want to be a member at the Capcom Sports Club.
Before there was Tekken, Soul Calibur and Mortal Kombat there was Street Fighter. And before Street Fighter there was Karate Champ, one of the most perplexing one-on-one fighting games of all time. Unlike all of the newer fighting games, Karate Champ doesn't have a life bar or fireballs or any other gimmicks. Instead it's just a simple fighter where the first person to get a hit is the winner. It's as basic as it gets, and so are the controls. In the arcade this game used two joysticks, which feels downright foreign compared to all of the fighting games on the market today. It's interesting to look back at Karate Champ now that it's free, but you probably won't want to play it for too long.
Video game bowling just isn't that exciting. Outside of the Wii Sports bowling mini-game, most bowling games have been absolute trash. The reason for this is simple, most old school bowling games control like a golf game. Only instead of having the depth of golf, you're really just doing the same thing over and over. And this is the problem with League Bowling, a Neo Geo game that tries its hardest to be exciting, but can't break the repetitiveness of the sport. Fans of bowling may get a kick out of playing this with a friend, but at this point there are far better bowling games on the market.
Magical Drop III
Magical Drop is a crazy variation on the Bust-A-Move theme. Instead of shooting bubbles in this game you literally reach up to the top of the screen, grab a color and then place it where ever you want. It's a simple concept that works in its favor, even if it's just a little too similar to Bust-A-Move for comfort. Some may find this Neo Geo game addictive, but I quickly got bored of the concept. The game is significantly easier than Bust-A-Move and didn't offer enough extra content to keep me going. Magical Drop III is worth checking out, but there are better puzzle games currently on GameTap.
Tube-It is secretly the best free game of the week. On the surface it looks like just another Tetris clone, but it actually combines elements from a few different puzzle games to become a highly addictive and enjoyable time waster. The concept is simple, pipe pieces (like those in Pipe Dream or the mini-game in BioShock) fall from the sky and you need to flip them around so that you can connect them to the sides of the levels. On paper it sounds confusing, but I assure you that once you play it the concept will make complete sense. This is easily the most memorable game uploaded to GameTap this week, so make sure and give Tube-It a try.
Like the Bust-A-Move game we talked about, Super Qix is an arcade sequel that doesn't add much new to the formula. Qix is a fantastic game, it's a unique puzzle game that I gladly recommend. However, there isn't much in this Super Qix that wasn't in the regular Qix. In this game you control a character that is trying to fill in a large board with a "pretty" picture. That's the big difference in this version, the more of the level you fill in the more clear the picture will be. Is that enough of an incentive to get you to switch over to this sequel? Probably not, but at least it controls well and has new enemies to avoid.
Shark! Shark! is easily the oldest game on today's show. This Intellivision classic has you playing a small fish in the middle of the big, dangerous ocean. It's your job to eat smaller fish and ignore the shark that comes around every so often. Unfortunately the game isn't all that challenging and gets old incredibly fast. Shark! Shark! is interesting enough and worth checking out for free, even if you'll be tired of it after only a few minutes.