Retro Round Up for June 19, 2009


posted 6/19/2009 by Cyril Lachel
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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!

Space Harrier (Sega)
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) - $8
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) - $8
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) - $10
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) - $2
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!
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