Retro Round-up for January 11th

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posted 1/11/2008 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 Nintendo surprised us all by only uploading two games, as opposed to their usual three. The good news is that we get The King of Fighters '94, the best Neo Geo fighter on the Virtual Console. Unfortunately we also have to talk about StarTropics and Tron.

The King of Fighters '94 (SNK)
What Is It?
After several months of waiting, there is finally a Neo Geo fighting game worth owning on the Virtual Console. While The King of Fighters '94 is definitely the best 2D fighter made by SNK on the Nintendo Wii, that's only because so far they've taken games from the bottom of the barrel (including such stinkers as <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-31" target="blank_"><b>Art of Fighting</b></a>, <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-31" target="blank_"><b>World Heroes</b></a> and <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=twidg-31" target="blank_"><b>Fatal Fury</b></a>). But The King of Fighters is different; it's actually a competent fighting game that is worth owning. There's just one problem, this probably won't be the only game in the franchise SNK will release on the Virtual Console. You see, The King of Fighters '94 is actually the first game in a series that continues to see annual updates. Simply put, there's a 100% chance that the Virtual Console is going to see some of the newer (and much improved) entries in the sequel, which will make this fighter obsolete. Of course, nobody knows when this will happen. SNK could wait a full year before giving us another King of Fighters game on the Virtual Console, or The King of Fighters '95 could come next month. We just don't know. It comes down to you choosing whether you want to wait for a better version of this series or finally pick up a good Neo Geo fighter on the Virtual Console. It's a tough chose, one that you will ultimately need to make for yourself.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Not only is The King of Fighters '94 a good playing fighting game, it also offers a few innovative (for the time) gameplay mechanics that are still being seen in today's games. For one thing, this game combines some of SNK's best known characters, including fighters from Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury and even Ikari Warriors (which isn't a fighting game, but just bear with me here). It also allowed you to assemble a team of fighters to fight with, which is pretty novel. Of course, later games would actually allow you to pick and choose what characters you wanted, but this game still gives you the ability to choose a team of fighters. All of this holds up well, the only problem is that the decade worth of sequels have improved on all of these innovative concepts.

Is It Worth The Money?
I hate to do this to you, but you're on your own when it comes to The King of Fighters '94. On one hand this is the first Neo Geo fighting game worth owning on the Nintendo Wii. After a disappointing debut in 2007, SNK is welcoming the New Year with a great game. But The King of Fighters '95, '96, 97 and other sequels are expected to follow. Nobody knows when these game will hit the Virtual Console, but you have to figure that they will at some point. When these games hit the Wii this '94 edition will be completely useless, so it's up to you to decide whether this is worth the cash. I personally would wait, but it's definitely tempting to have a good fighter on the Virtual Console. Oh those terrible choices!

StarTropics (Nintendo)
What Is It?
See, that's the problem with StarTropics ... it doesn't know what it is. While I'm sure there are a lot of Nintendo loyalists that will disagree with me, I am personally not much of a fan of Star Tropics (or its unfortunate sequel). What is StarTropics? It's a little bit of everything. On the surface the game is a lot like another old school Nintendo franchise, The Legend of Zelda. However, quickly enough it starts to feel like Dragon Warrior, then Crystalis and then, oddly enough, Ultima. The game is a mess, it picks and pulls elements from at least a half dozen better games. To make this all worse, the whole thing is just a little too generic for my tastes. The story is laughably bad, too. Of course, if you played this game when you were 8 then chances are you remember this as a masterpiece, but I promise you that you won't feel the same way 18 years later. You know you're in for a bad time when your weapon of choice is a Yo Yo. It may look like The Legend of Zelda, but StarTropics is not worth your time or money.

Does It Still Hold Up?
With its laughably bad story, the archaic controls and ugly graphics, there's really nothing here to be satisfied with. Even when the game was released it was lacking. Magazine after magazine gave it low scores and called it a half-ass Zelda clone. Looking back at it now it's clear that the game had more than just one problem, it also didn't have soul. Every element of this game has been done better in dozens (if not hundreds) of games. This game wasn't good then, and it definitely does not hold up all these years later.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you remember playing this as a kid you may be tempted to pick it up, but I am warning you that you might as well just flush $5 down the toilet. Time has a funny way of making us forget all of the bad things about a game, so it's pretty jarring to plug this game back in and suffer through frustrating design decisions that would not be tolerated now. StarTropics is one of the few Nintendo adventure games that you can feel good about skipping.
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