Retro Round-up for August 17

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posted 8/17/2007 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! This week we have the return of Samus Aran, a TurboGrafx-16 mash-up, one of the best RPGs on the Virtual Console, and Ecco the Dolphin. Find out which of those is the for the Virtual Console and which is for the Xbox Live Arcade when you read the newest episode of Retro Round-Up ...

 
Cratermaze (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Cratermaze plays like a best-of mash-up between Hudson's most popular TurboGrafx-16 titles. At first glance the game looks an awful lot like Bomberman, only without the wanton death and destruction. But upon closer inspection the game actually plays more like Lode Runner, where it's your job to dig holes to trap the enemies. Beyond combining the camera perspective of Bomberman and the gameplay of Lode Runner, you also have the crazy task of collecting enough treasure chests to open up a key and unlock the exit door. Despite being a hodgepodge of different concepts, Cratermaze is actually an addictive little game that is easy to pick up and play for short spurts. With sixty levels and a number of different power-ups, Cratermaze has quite a bit of gameplay waiting for those people adventurous enough to tackle this bizarre game.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
While the concepts hold up well, some gamers will no doubt grow tired of doing the same thing over sixty different levels. Thankfully there is some variety, but not nearly enough to keep you hooked for long stretches of time. To its credit there aren't a lot of games like this on the Virtual Console, and if you're one of those people that loved Bomberman but thought that it needed more Lode Runner influence then this is a perfect game for you.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
At $6 it's hard to feel too bad about trying out new games, especially if you're a fan of either Lode Runner or Bomberman. The problem with this game is that it's just too simple; the concept gets old after only a few levels. If you're the type of gamer who is looking for something to pick up and play for only a few minutes at a time then you might want to consider this forgotten classic, but everybody else may just want to see what else is on the Virtual Console this week.

Cratermaze
 
 
Metroid (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Ever since the launch of the Wii back in mid-November almost everybody has been clamoring for a Virtual Console release of Metroid and its stellar sequel, Super Metroid. Well, your prayers have finally been answered, because Metroid has finally been release (with Super Metroid dropping early next week). Culturally important for being the first Nintendo made game to sport "realistic" graphics (as opposed to their standard cartoony look found in Mario, Ice Climbers, etc.), Metroid is still regarded as one of the greatest games ever made. Metroid was different from all those other NES-based games of the mid- to late-1980s; it featured a fully realized world where you didn't have to worry about beating levels. Instead you ran around this world finding power-ups that would allow you access to otherwise unreachable areas of the maze-like world. Along the way you had to deal with some grueling monsters and memorize where you came from (and where you're going). Beyond its interesting take on game worlds, Metroid was also significant for featuring the first (spoiler warning) female action hero. And not only that, but it also introduced us to Justin Bailey, one of the most memorable video game passwords of all time. Everything you loved about Metroid has returned to for this Virtual Console release, which, as you're about to learn, is both a good and bad thing.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
I hate to come off as a jerk here, but Metroid has always been riddled with some pretty serious problems. That doesn't mean that it's not worthy of being a genuine classic, but some of the issues we were willing to put up with twenty years ago are front and center in this re-release. For one thing the game is awfully glitchy, to the point where it can hinder you when trying to work through the world. This is nothing new, the original Metroid was glitchy as well ... so if anything this Virtual Console version is just mimicking what was already there. On top of that it's also annoying going around and having to bomb everything in order to figure out where you're going to go. Thankfully this method of gameplay was fixed for Super Metroid, but it's definitely noticeable in this Virtual Console release.
 
Is It Worth The Money?
Despite its quirks, Metroid is still an amazing game that is well worth your $5. The only problem I have recommending this game is that you could just as easily go and buy Metroid: Zero Mission and get the same experience (and a whole lot more). But even beyond that, if you're looking for a $5 game for your Virtual Console then Metroid is the game to get.

Metroid
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