Retro Round-up for August 24


posted 8/24/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
Platforms: Multiple
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 Zelda clone and two of the greatest 2D action games of all time. If you thought last week was good then you ain't seen nothing yet ...

Neutopia (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
It's The Legend of Zelda. No really, Neutopia is just about the biggest rip-off of Nintendo's classic adventure game you could possibly imagine. It features a cute kid-like hero who battles from an overhead perspective, you fight through dungeons in order to find new items and kill bosses, there are octopi who shoot projectiles from the water, hidden areas you can only access by using your bombs, and a map that looks suspiciously like the map in The Legend of Zelda. But so what? The Legend of Zelda is a phenomenal game and most people can't get enough of Link's adventures. The fact that this is the world's largest rip-off (or homage, if you want to give Hudson the benefit of the doubt) shouldn't persuade you from having a great time with Neutopia, a solid little adventure game for the TurboGrafx-16. There's a lengthy quest here that is almost as much fun as the Zelda games (better than Zelda II, worse than the original and Zelda 3) and it's probably a brand new adventure for most people. If you love The Legend of Zelda but have already gone through all of Link's adventures on the Virtual Console then make sure and check out this six dollar clone. It's not quite as good as the best Zelda games, but you could do a whole lot worse.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Seeing as it apes the Zelda formula so much, Neutopia still feels fresh and fun. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination, but it does control well and you'll have an enjoyable time battling monsters and exploring this world. The moment Neutopia stops holding up is the moment you realize that The Legend of Zelda is outdated. I hope to never see that time.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you're a big Zelda fan who wishes Nintendo had produced more adventures for Link, then Neutopia is perfect for you. This game is so much like The Legend of Zelda that you might as well be playing as Link and battling Ganon. At $6 this TurboGrafx-16 game is cheaper than the best of the Zelda games (Zelda 3) and a little more expensive than the worst (Zelda 2), so Neutopia ends up being a pretty good deal in the long run. Don't expect this game to be as original and endearing as the Nintendo titles, but it is a great adventure that's well worth your money.


Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Shinobi III is noteworthy for two extreme reasons: It was the final 16-bit Shinobi game released and it was the last time that name was synonymous with being good. Thankfully Shinobi III left the series off on a high note, giving gamers one of the best 16-bit games of all time. Shinobi III takes everything that worked for the first two games and mixes in some brand new features, including a life bar and vehicle stages. The result is one of the greatest Genesis games of all time, an amazing action game that you'll want to come back to time and time again. Shinobi III features a lengthy quest that takes you through a number of interesting levels and has you fighting tons of crazy, exciting, and bizarre bosses. What's more, it also shakes things up with the occasional "vehicle" level, which has you piloting a jet ski and riding a horse. While some gamers may have ninja overload thanks to the recently released Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Spirit, Shinobi III manages to take the ninja genre (if you consider ninja fighting action to be its own genre) in a whole different direction. There's enough action in just one level of Shinobi III to be worth every cent you pay for this game. That doesn't mean you won't have fun with those other ninja games on the Virtual Console, but there's nothing quite like this third Shinobi game. It's a shame Sega was unable to figure out a way of topping this amazing game.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Without a doubt, Shinobi III is just as much fun today as it was a decade ago. While you character doesn't have a ton of moves, there are a few special techniques that keep the action diverse and exciting. The graphics are also spectacular, which is due to the game being released close to the end of Genesis' run. It's nice to see that all of the ninja games on the Virtual Console (Ninja Spirit, Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi III) all hold up nicely, I can only hope the same holds true for the ninja games of this generation.

Is It Worth The Money?
While this would usually be the time I would complain about the $8 asking price, when a game is this good it shouldn't matter how much it costs. Thrifty gamers should probably just go ahead and buy the Sega Genesis Collection for the PSP or PlayStation 2 (it also comes with Shadow Dancer, which is the prequel to this game), but if you only own a Wii and are anxious for another great 2D action game, then you can't go wrong with Shinobi III. Even if you aren't a big fan of the first two Shinobi games, Shinobi III is different enough to warrant a test drive. It may not be the best game to come out on the Virtual Console this week, but Shinobi III is easily one of the best 16-bit games ever made.

Shinobi 3

Super Metroid (Virtual Console)
What Is It?

It's Super Metroid, the long-awaited third installment of the popular Metroid franchise. Super Metroid takes everything that was good about the original game (cool level designs, great bosses, that sense of exploration) and turns it into something absolutely amazing. Many consider Super Metroid to be one of the greatest games of all time, if not the greatest game ever made. Electronic Gaming Monthly even went as far as to name Samus' third adventure as the best game ever made in their 150th issue. While I certainly can't disagree that this is a great game, I'm not one of those people who thinks it's the best game ever created (I save that title for Tetris and X-Com). Super Metroid is an amazing accomplishment, Nintendo has managed to turn your standard 2D side scroller into an epic adventure that will have you memorizing the map, looking for secret areas and battling some of the coolest looking bosses to ever grace the 16-bit Super NES. It's hard to imagine a more complete package, from the rain soaked planet to the underground caverns; Super Metroid is the kind of game that will impress everybody that plays it. Super Metroid is a collection of all the best elements of 2D platforming action; it's an exciting adventure that in many ways has yet to be surpassed. Best of all, Super Metroid is the kind of game you'll want to go back and play time and time again. When it comes to retro games we throw the word "classic" around like it means nothing, but not every old game is a true classic. Super Metroid, on the other hand, is a true classic in every sense of the word.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Say what you will about Nintendo, but the company definitely knows how to make games that hold up. Who doesn't love going back and playing Super Mario Bros. 3? And many consider The Legend of Zelda III to be one of the best action RPGs of all time. So is it any shock that 13 years after its release Super Metroid still holds up? They just don't make games like this anymore, this is a near flawless action game that doesn't feel like its aged a day. Nintendo has tried to top it; they've released two 2D Metroid games on the Game Boy Advance that pale in comparison. Perhaps you just can't top perfection, and Super Metroid is as close to perfect as a 2D action game can get.

Is It Worth The Money?
That just may be the stupidest question of all time. Is Super Metroid worth $8? The truth is that Nintendo could probably repackage the game and sell it for $50 and it would still be worth it. I don't care how old it is, this game feels just as fresh and relevant as it did thirteen years ago. If you're the type of person who has to wonder if Super Metroid is worth it then chances are it's because you've never actually played it before. And if you've never played Super Metroid then now is your chance to pay $8 for one of the greatest 2D games of all time. Scratch that, it's not just one of the greatest 2D games of all time ... it's one of the greatest games of all time. Shame on you for never having experienced Super Metroid. Shame on you!

Super Metroid

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