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
. This week may feel light, but we actually have a couple of well-known fighting games to talk about. On the Virtual Console we have Fatal Fury 2, a classic Neo Geo game that improves on the original. And then there's Soul Calibur on the Xbox Live Arcade. While not exactly "retro" (it's only nine years old), we're still going to include it. Find out why we have a hard time recommending these games when you read another exciting episode of This Week in Defunct Games!
Fatal Fury 2
What Is It?
It's the sequel to one of SNK's best-known fighting games. But just because it's well-known doesn't make it good. Fatal Fury 2 is a major improvement over SNK's last effort, but that's like saying that moldy bread is an improvement over sewage water. In a lot of ways Fatal Fury 2 does what it's supposed to, it offers more playable characters, features slightly improved graphics and adds more moves (and balancing). But none of this matters because the gameplay is sluggish and unresponsive. There are a lot of appealing characters to be found in this fighter; I just wish they were involved with a better fighting game. At least now we know that SNK will start uploading sequels, one can only hope that games like Samurai Shodown II and Art of Fighting 3 are on the way.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics are good, but the game is plagued by sluggish controls and a fighting engine that doesn't feel natural. In a lot of ways this game suffers from the same problems of the original, some of which should have been resolved in the twelve months between releases. The new cast of characters is nice and this Fatal Fury is more accessible as a console game, but the whole game just feels too outdated.
Is It Worth The Money?
Fatal Fury 2 is not worth your money for two important reasons. For one thing, the game isn't very good, so you are better off spending your nine bucks on a better fighting game. But more importantly, Fatal Fury 2 is one of the four games offered in the Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Vol. 1. For only a few dollars more you can get four Fatal Fury games, two of which are actually worth playing. The choice is yours, but I say there's no way you should even think about spending the money on this Virtual Console game.
What Is It?
It's one of the greatest fighting games of all time and easily the best game to launch alongside the Sega Dreamcast. Of course, the Dreamcast launched almost a decade ago and we've had some fantastic fighting games since then (Soul Calibur 2, Virtua Fighter 5 and Tekken 5, to name a few). But that shouldn't keep you (and that soul that continues to burn) from checking out this week's Xbox Live Arcade game. Good or bad, this is basically a straight port of the Dreamcast, complete with amazing characters, fantastical locations and plenty of bouncing boobs. There are just a few problems. For one thing, what happened to the Quest Mode? I hate to whine, but this mode was one of the best reasons for a single-player to play the game. Without it Soul Calibur just doesn't feel the same. What's more, the lack of online fighting is simply unacceptable. Yes, the game is still fun to play with a friend, but why on earth would you play this instead of Soul Calibur II or IV (which is set to be released in mere weeks). Yes, this game is $10, but so is Soul Calibur II. Soul Calibur was never about nostalgia, so maybe that's why I'm not nearly as impressed with this game a decade later. Soul Calibur is still a fun fighting game, but I wonder if Namco took too much out of this release.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The fighting physics are sometimes questionable, but Soul Calibur is still an amazing fighting game. The action is fast and fun, and it's perfect for novice fighting fans. The game is incredibly easy to learn and most people should be able to button mash their way to victory. Obviously all of the elements of this game were improved in the sequels, but Soul Calibur plays a heck of a lot better than most of the games I review in this weekly feature.
Is It Worth The Money?
The simple answer is maybe. There is nothing I want more than to tell you that this is a must-have purchase, but part of me feels like the best reasons to own this game have been stripped out. The quest mode, while not amazing in its narrative, kept plenty of gamers hooked to the game. Without it Soul Calibur is just another one-on-one fighting game, and the Xbox Live Arcade already has a few of those. Then again, this is the first worthwhile 3D fighting game on the platform, but again, with Soul Calibur IV coming out in just a few days, why buy this offline, gimped prequel? Namco would have been better off giving us a straight port of Soul Edge (known as Soul Blade on the U.S. PS1). At least that's a game nobody remembers. I'm leaning towards a recommendation, but you're better off buying the original Dreamcast game or just picking up one of the various sequels.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!
Remember all those games I reviewed last week
? Well, GameTap knows that you didn't get around to them so they have given you an extra week to go through them. Paid subscribers do two two "new" games, but neither of them exactly fit in this "retro" article. Those games are Descent Freespace and Offroad Red Keck Racing. I have no personal experience with either game; however I have been enjoying the other Descent games released on the platform. Sadly there are no new free games uploaded, so you'll have to sift through the 141 free games to see if there's something you might have missed along the way.
[Insights from the Editor]
It's rare that I've played a game that Cyril so I thought I would toss in my two cents on Descent:Freespace. Freespace isn't actually a continuation of the Descent games, but rather a completely different game. The game was actually a space flight simulator in the vein of the Wing Commander series. The game improved a lot on the Wing Commander formula and incorporated some real physics in the flight model (think Babylon 5 vs. Star Wars). The game was a lot of fun although the sequel, Freespace 2 is easily one of the best in the genre.