Retro Round-up for August 30th


posted 8/31/2007 by Cyril Lachel
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This Week in Defunct Games 25
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 packed show full of ghouls, ghosts, RPGs, exploding blocks, street fighters, and army men. We have three games for the Virtual Console and two for the Xbox Live Arcade. So instead of listening to me babble on about what we have in store, maybe you should go and see what we think of this week's retro titles ...
Breath of Fire II (Virtual Console)
 What Is It?
Capcom's follow-up to the modestly successful Breath of Fire is larger and more involved than its predecessor, but unfortunately also much less interesting. While some parts are very clever (you are able to build your home town, populating it with stray homeless folks you run across), it suffers from too little direction, a purely mechanical storyline and the clunkiest dialog since Night Trap. The good news is that this is a by-the-numbers Japanese role-playing game; something the Virtual Console doesn't have a lot of at the moment. When it comes right down to it most RPGs aren't going to mind that the dialog is poor and the story is utter rubbish, if anything they'll write it off as being part of the charm of Breath of Fire II. I would have preferred Capcom release one of the other games in the series (perhaps the first or third installment), but Breath of Fire II will no doubt find a small following of RPG nuts that are excited just to have a game like this on the Wii.
Does It Still Hold Up?
I would like to say that crummy stories and bad dialog in role-playing games is a thing of the past, but that is just not the case. To this day we have to put up with poorly translated Japanese RPGs with the most generic stories you will ever seen. Breath of Fire II almost gets away with it because it's one of the few RPGs on the Wii, so most people will forgive the game's shortcomings. The adventure is long and there are plenty of characters available to play, but the game is not without its problems. The gameplay manages to hold up even if the story can't.
Is It Worth The Money?
This is a tough call, if you're a casual RPG fan then maybe you should stick with Sega's offerings, such as Shining in the Darkness, Shining Force and Legend of Thor. But if you're dying for a brand new RPG from Japan, then Breath of Fire II may hold your attention for awhile. $8 is a bit much for what you end up getting here, so be warned that this is a mediocre substitute for the much better RPGs that have yet to hit the Virtual Console. If anything Breath of Fire II just demonstrates how in need the Virtual Console community is for great role-playing games from Japan.
Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Anybody that knows me already knows that I'm a huge fan of Capcom's Ghosts 'N Goblins series. I loved the original 8-bit game as a kid, bought the Sega Genesis specifically for Ghouls 'N Ghosts, enjoyed it on the Super NES, and even bought both of the Maximo games the day they came out. There's just something about that boxer-wearing knight that I can't get enough of. That's why it's so easy to recommend Ghouls 'N Ghosts this week, as far as I'm concerned it's one of the greatest 16-bit 2D games of all time. Ghouls 'N Ghosts manages to retain everything you loved about the original game, it's hard as hell (requiring you to play through it twice in order to beat it), full of crazy weapons and cool boss battles. This sequel takes all that to a brand new level thanks to special magic attacks, brand new armor, and levels that are ready to fight back. Perhaps the best part of this game is the level designs, now you aren't just battling bats, zombies and other ghoulies, you are also dealing with earthquakes, fire popping up all around you, and even the wind. While it doesn't look as good as the third installment, Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts on the Super NES, at least this Sega Genesis game runs without the rampant slowdowns. Some may complain that having to play through it twice is an artificial way of adding length, but Ghouls 'N Ghosts is already a lengthy game in its own right. While most people will probably just want to download Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts out of hand (seeing as it's slightly newer and a Super NES game), it's well worth your time to check out this 1989 Genesis game.
Does It Still Hold Up?
While the graphics aren't nearly as impressive as they were two decades ago, Ghouls 'N Ghosts still holds up as one of the greatest action games of the 16-bit era. If you're a fan of crazy levels filled with some of the coolest monsters around, then this Capcom classic is well worth checking out. Best of all, the level designs and boss battles are so good that you won't forget them until you're stuck in bed suffering from Alzheimer's disease. While the controls aren't especially deep, they are spot on and not plagued by constant slowdowns.
Is It Worth The Money?
The Ghosts 'N Goblins loving side of me wants to scream it from the rooftops that this sequel is one of the greatest games ever. But there's a part of me that isn't convinced that $8 is a good value for a game this old. You can just as easily go pick up one of the Capcom Classics Collection discs (for either the PSP or PlayStation 2) for $20 and get all three games, not to mention a bunch of other cool Capcom arcade games. Still, if the Wii is the only system you own then make sure you pick up Ghouls 'N Ghosts, it's simply one of the best games currently available on the Virtual Console.
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