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
I have another packed show for you this week. Join me as I look at the arcade release of Space Harrier, the first season of Sam & Max and shuffle the deck with Magic: The Gathering. And did I mention that we have plenty of snazzy haikus and limericks? It's true, so hang tight as we jump into another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
If you talk to the right person they'll tell you that Space Harrier was an arcade marvel when it was released in 1985. While the special effects were crude, they were light years ahead of the consoles and, more importantly, suggested some of the innovations that would become crucial for all future video game generations (such as scaling). However, even as an arcade game Space Harrier was simplistic and repetitive. Space Harrier is the type of game that is fun in short doses; a game that is technically impressive, but loses its charm almost immediately. You play a thin guy who is running (and flying) through a fantastical world full of robots, dinosaurs and cool scaling foliage. The basic gameplay is on rails, so all you're doing is shooting at what's ahead of you and trying to do anything that gets in your way. Throw in a few large snake-like bosses and backgrounds that change color and you have Space Harrier, a simplistic shooter that is more a showpiece than an actual gaming experience. The problem is, this isn't 1985. Here we are, almost a quarter century later and this once amazing shooter just doesn't fit in. It's not the crummy scaling and the repetitive levels, it's the fact that there's really nothing to keep you going after you've played the first level or two. Besides, Space Harrier fans have already picked up this game on the Sega Master System and the Sega Genesis. So what's the point?
Does It Still Hold Up?
While this arcade port is certainly better than the 8-bit Master System port, it's still has a long way to go before it's worth buying. The graphics aren't bad for what they are trying to be, but it's hard to look at the rudimentary scaling and not be a little distracted. Couple this with the never-ending levels of sameness and you have a recipe for boredom. I'm not going to say it's the worst game ever made, but Space Harrier certainly doesn't hold up against other shooters on the Virtual Console.
Is It Worth the Money?
This is the first Virtual Console Arcade release since March and THIS is the game we get? While the Xbox Live Arcade is rocking Magic: The Gathering and Sam & Max Save the World, Nintendo loyalists are the losers once again. Surely they could have given us a rare arcade classic, like Captain Commando or even San Francisco Rush. Heck, I would take Dragon's Lair over this crap. And really, if you really must own Space Harrier, just pick up Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, it's one of the bonus games in the already cheap (and packed) compilation disc.
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 come up with some rhymes about a Eduardo the Samurai Toaster, Rainbow Islands and Let's Catch ... whatever that is!
Eduardo the Samurai Toaster (Semnat Studios)
I once knew a toaster named Eddie who would toast my bread nice and steady. But one day it burned and that's when I learned that sometimes I need to have a backup plan ready.
Rainbow Islands: Tower Adventure (Taito)
There once was a dinosaur named Bob and he really was a snob. He turned up his nose and curled his toes, and that's when my head started to throb.
Let's CATCH! (Sega)
I just got done playing Let's Catch, but I think it needs a patch. When the game was done I realized I was having no fun, and that's when I decided we just weren't a match.
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. See for yourself when we write haikus for both American Popstar: Road to Celebrity and Phot Clock!
Mario Calculator (Nintendo)The Argument Over Xbox Live Arcade
I can multiply.
Thanks to this Mario app.
Saves me a headache.
Mario Clock (Nintendo) - $2
Hey, what time is it?
Why don't you look at your watch?
Or just ask someone!
Now that you've had your fill of the Virtual Console, maybe it's time to check out This Week in Xbox Live Arcade. This is the part of our show where we take a look at the brand new Xbox Live Arcade titles, and then review them using our unique POINT/COUNTERPOINT style. In these reviews I will make a solid point about a game, and then I will argue the other side just to confuse everything. What do I really think about this week's Xbox Live Arcade game? I guess you'll never know. Instead you get what has to be the single least useful review ever posted on this website. This week we have two very different Xbox Live Arcade games for you. Up first is Magic: The Gathering, the digital version of the popular card game. And if that's not your thing, then maybe you would be interested in Sam & Max Save the World, the complete first season of one of the funniest games of all time.
Magic: The Gathering (Wizards of the Coast)
Have you always wondered why everybody around you loved Magic: The Gathering? Now is your chance to find out what all the fuss is about, thanks to this ten dollar Xbox Live Arcade release. The real reason to pick this up is to play it online. While this may sound intimidating, the developers have made it easy and accessible for newbies. I've never been a huge Magic: The Gathering fan, but even I was having a blast matching cards and making my own deck. Throw in some cool achievements and different rooms for different experience levels, and you will likely be playing this for years to come. It's a little clunky, but Magic: The Gathering is definitely worth your time.
Run for your lives, the virus that infected all of my friends in high school is now an inexpensive Xbox Live Arcade game. But that's how they get you. They sell you something cheap and then nickel and dime you to death. I know their plans, I've seen my friends lose their fortunes playing this crummy card game. Just go to the dollar store and buy yourself a deck of cards, a good game of poker never hurt anybody!
Sam & Max Save the World
What's not to love about Sam & Max Save the World? It's all six episodes from the first Sam & Max season, plus HD graphics, achievements and a few other added bonuses. Best of all, it's cheap ... assuming you wanted all six episodes. At $20, that makes each game only a few bucks each. If you've never played through this series, then now is your chance to see why everybody is calling it one of the funniest games of all time. And don't underestimate the amount of content you get. Each episode will last at least two or three hours, making this experience a lengthy one the first time through. Definitely pick up Sam & Max Save the World.
Twenty bucks for a three year old game? These days you can find the Wii port for $15, so why is this digital version more expensive? Yes this game is funny and the episodes are worth playing through, but I'm not sure the Xbox 360 is the best place to experience this first season. And did I mention that the second season is a lot better than the first? Well, it is. That's not to say that you shouldn't go through this game, but I'm a little disappointed by the price point. At least it's better than Wallace & Gromit's Adventures.