Retro Round-up for December 4

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posted 12/4/2009 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 take a look at a 2D brawler and yet another Virtual Console duplicate. Up first we check out The Combatribes, a brawler from the makers of Double Dragon and River City Ransom. Then we check out the puzzling addition of Solomon's Key. Are either worth buying? Find out when you check out another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!

The Combatribes
(Super NES/$8)
What Is It?
This is yet another 2D brawler from the single-minded Technos, the markers of Double Dragon, River City Ransom and Renegade. The Combatribes was originally an arcade game, but Virtual Console fans will have to put up with the sanitized Super NES port from 1992. For the most part the gameplay, which involves you mashing buttons and avoiding a never-ending barrage of bad guys, remains the same in this home version. The biggest problem is that many of the levels have been dumbed down, something that can also be said about the story. Worse yet, there are a number of elements that feel like they were altered for no reason whatsoever. For example, why did they insist on changing all of the gangs to cyborgs? There are also a number of bizarre name changes and all of the blood has been replaced by, you guessed it, sweat. The good news is that Technos added a one-on-one Street Fighter-style fighting game, much like what we saw in the NES version of Double Dragon. Unfortunately this mode is all but unnecessary thanks to all of the real fighting games already on the Virtual Console.

Does It Still Hold Up?

The gameplay mechanics feel good and the game controls well enough, but there's something about this game that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's the generic levels I'm fighting through or how pointless it all seems. Even though this is a Technos game I can't help but feel like they are just going through the motions. The graphics are fine, but I still would have preferred the original arcade game (and not some stupid Super NES port).

Is It Worth the Money?

You want another 2D brawler, then this is going to do the trick. But I have a bone to pick with The Combatribes. This Virtual Console version has made even more unneeded changes, turning the gang "Ground Zero" into "Guity Zero." Look, I get that many Americans equate "Ground Zero" with the September 11th attacks and the World Trade Center wreckage, but there has to be a line in which enough is enough. I find it hard to support a game that feels like it has to be so politically correct that the term "Ground Zero" is off limits. This is the kind of unnecessary censorship that offends me, and I hate the fact that we're seeing more and more companies pull this kind of stunt.


Solomon's Ke
y (Arcade/$6)
What Is It?
Solomon's Key dares to combine the joy of Super Mario Bros. with Lode Runner. It's a simplistic puzzle/platformer where you collect keys, open doors and ... well ... move on to the next level where you do it all over again. The game offers 64 punishing levels, each with their own unique look and layout. If all this sounds familiar it's because this game has already been released on the Virtual Console. Back in 2006 Nintendo uploaded the NES port to their download service. Here we are three years later and they've done it again, only this time around you pay more and get slightly better graphics. That's it. Beyond that annoyance, the game does offer a lot of clever puzzles that will have you scratching your head for hours, making this one of the lengthier releases on the Virtual Console.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics look a little sharper in this version when compared to the NES port; however the gameplay and levels are all the same. If you already own the NES version then you will know exactly what to expect, mostly because this is exactly the same game. There's a good level of challenge and I had a lot of fun going through the game the first time around. Although it's clearly outdated, I say Solomon's Key definitely holds up.

Is It Worth the Money?
What is it with Nintendo and releasing duplicate games week after week? They've done this with Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Wonder Boy III, Golden Axe and Altered Beast, and now they're once again asking you to spend more money to double dip. It's not like they have completely run out of old school games, I can list off hundreds that they've missed along the way. If you don't already own Solomon's Key, then this is the version to get. If you own it for the NES, then skip it and hope that next week is better.






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