Retro Round-up for February 5th

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posted 2/8/2008 by Cyril Lachel
other articles 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 take a look at two of the worst Virtual Console games of all time. One of them is completely broken; the other is completely useless (you'll have to read the article to figure out which is which). And if that wasn't enough, GameTap drops a half dozen terrible Commodore 64 games in our laps. This week sucks ... and now you can read all about it when you scroll down and check out Retro Round-Up!

Columns III: Revenge of Columns
What Is It?
Surprise, it's the third installment of the Sega puzzler, Columns. Curious why we skipped from the original Columns to this bizarre third installment? Well, Columns II: The Voyage Through Time (yes, that was the subtitle) was an arcade game that never quite made it home. Yet Columns III did, which makes almost no sense to me. Either way, you really aren't missing much by skipping the second game ... and in truth; you won't miss a thing if you skip this useless third installment. Oddly enough, this Columns sequel wasn't published by Sega; it was released by Vic Tokai. Columns III isn't just another retread of the original 1989 puzzle game, instead it takes the basic gameplay and includes a bunch of new single and multiplayer modes. It also adds a story, which seems a little weird for what amounts to a Puyo Puyo clone. The game play is basically the same in this game, it's your job to match colored gems together to make them disappear, which will allow you to attack your opponent and ultimately win the game. If you found the original Columns fun then you'll probably get some enjoyment out of this sequel, but to everybody else this will just feel like an unnecessary sequel. On the plus side it looks good and has a number of options.

Does It Still Hold Up?
While most puzzle games are timeless, I find that as I get older I have less interest in Columns. Now don't get me wrong, back in the 16-bit Genesis era I was into the series, but looking back at it now it's hard to see Columns as anything but a poor-man's Puyo Puyo. That would be fine if games like Kirby's Avalanche and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine weren't already on the Virtual Console, but they are and they feel a lot fresher than this stale Columns sequel.

Is It Worth the Money?
Perhaps the more pressing question is: can columns exact revenge? It's actually kind of funny; you don't see a lot of puzzle games with subtitles. Then again, perhaps we should. I wouldn't mind buying a game called Tetris 2: Electric Boogaloo or Lumines III: This Time It's Personal. All joking aside, there are better puzzle games on the Virtual Console, so forget about this second-rate sequel and go pick up one of those other titles. Columns 1 wasn't all that hot to start with, so you can't expect too much from this lame sequel.
Operation Wolf
What Is It?
When you think about all of the old school arcade games that would be a perfect fit on the Nintendo Wii, chances are Operation Wolf is close to the top of that list. After all, this is a game that demands you use a light gun and the Wii's motion sensing remote is perfect for light gun games (Nintendo even released that $20 plastic doohickey that turns it into a gun). But he joke is on you, because Operation Wolf does not use the Wii's remote as a gun. Instead you have to use the D-Pad to move your cursor around and shoot people that way. That's right, this is a gimped version of an arcade game that is made even more useless with the lack of light gun support. Who the heck green lights this stuff? Even the NES version of Operation Wolf had light gun support (the game starts up telling you to fire at the screen), so what's the excuse? Sadly we already know what the excuse is, so far Nintendo (and its third parties) have been reluctant to actually go in and change any of the code. There have been a few examples of companies doing this (Pokemon Snap, for example), but apparently nobody thought it was worth it to tinker with Operation Wolf. That's a shame, because this game is unplayable without the light gun support. If you're the type of person who loves on-rail light gun shooters, then just pick up Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles, Ghost Squad or the upcoming House of the Dead collection.

Does It Still Hold Up?
It's an on-rail light gun shooter, it's one of the few genres that feels archaic even when it's a brand new game (see: Time Crisis 4 for the PlayStation 3). This 8-bit NES game feels even more outdated because you really only scroll from left to right, which tends to get extremely boring. What is even more troubling, though, is that this isn't even the best version of the game that Nintendo could have uploaded. While not arcade perfect, the TurboGrafx-16 version of Operation Wolf is definitely a lot closer than this NES game gets. Either way, this game does not hold up well ... and the lack of the light gun doesn't help anything.

Is It Worth the Money?
No. It's that simple. No gun support, no purchase. Using the D-Pad essentially breaks the game, the reaction speed isn't fast enough and all of the excitement of shooting fools is gone without a light gun. While I commend Nintendo for trying to get as many old school titles on the Virtual Console as possible, they probably shouldn't be spending time uploading titles that require accessories. That means that I don't want to see World Class Track Meet or any other Power Pad games, and if Nintendo decides to upload the Super Scope 6 collection I can guarantee that I'm going to throw my Wii through my TV! Don't buy Operation Wolf, because if you do you will regret it for the rest of your life!
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