Retro Round-up for January 18th

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posted 1/18/2008 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. In this week's episode we take a look at the two retro games released on the Virtual Console this week, including a Streets of Rage wannabe and a Pac-Man puzzler. Not enough for you? Then perhaps you should tune in to see what is new (and free) at GameTap! All this and more when you read the Retro Round-Up!

Pac-Attack (Namco)
What Is It?
Do you remember the good old days when Pac-Man would move around a brightly colored maze avoiding ghosts and gobbling up small pellets? Now imagine we made a few minor changes to the Pac-Man you knew and loved and called it Pac-Attack. What kind of changes, you may ask? Well, first let's take away those little pellets. And while we're at it, why not take away the brightly colored maze. And since there's no maze we won't need to worry about dodging ghosts. Oh, since we aren't avoiding ghosts you can forget all about those power pellets that made you invincible. In fact, let's just go ahead and scrap everything that made Pac-Man was he is today.

That's exactly what Namco did when creating Pac-Attack, they decided to take out every element that defined Pac-Man and turn it into a Tetris clone. That's right; Pac-Attack is a puzzle game where blocks fall from the sky. I only wish I was kidding. The concept is actually very simple, blocks fall from the sky and it's your job to make a complete line from one side of the screen to the other, just like Tetris. The catch is that you will have to deal with ghosts, which are part of the blocks that fall from the sky. Thankfully you can match up a bunch of ghosts and unleash a miniature Pac-Man on them, which will allow you to connect the blocks and form lines. As a puzzle game Pac-Attack proves to be enjoyable for a short period of time. It's nowhere near as addictive as some of the classic puzzlers its riffing on, but it in enjoyable for a short amount of time.

Does It Still Hold Up?
It's a simple puzzle game that you'll probably get bored of quickly. The game doesn't feel dated, but it's hard not to be reminded of the countless better puzzlers available on just about every console. Some may like it more than others, but I think everybody will agree that this will not replace classics like Tetris, Puyo Puyo and Lumines.

Is It Worth the Money?
The thing that annoys me the most is that this is nothing more than a Tetris clone that cynically uses the Pac-Man name to sell more copies. If the game was called something like "Stumped" or "Block Attack" nobody would buy it, but because it has the Pac-Man name on it there's a chance it will sell better. But people expecting a Pac-Man game will feel cheated, because this game has absolutely nothing to do with the classic maze game. Eight dollars is a bit too much to ask for what is basically a generic puzzle game masquerading as a Pac-Man title. Don't be fooled, there are too many better puzzle games on the market for you to waste your time with Pac-Attack.

Riot Zone (NEC)
What Is It?
We've had classic brawlers for the Sega Genesis (Streets of Rage). We've had classic brawlers for the Super NES (Final Fight). Heck, we've even had classic brawlers on the NES (Urban Champions). So maybe it's time for the Virtual Console to start featuring classic brawlers on the TurboGrafx-16. Enter Riot Zone, a game that desperately wants to be Streets of Rage. How much does it want to be Sega's brawler? Well, the lead character in this game (Tony) just happens to look and play exactly like the lead character in Streets of Rage (Axel). And it's not just the blonde hair and the clothing, it's the way they fight and their special moves. The game is definitely trying to be the Streets of Rage killer by aping its every move.

Riot Zone plays out like every other classic brawler; you walk around different levels fighting hordes of annoying enemies with the single mission of stopping you. Of course, they're not going to stop you, because you are stronger than thousands of gang members. I don't know how that works, but it appears to be true. Here's the problem with this kind of game, I don't understand why our heroes don't just jump in the car and drive to the big building that houses the last boss. Is there a reason to walk through all of the rough parts of town before getting to the final stage? Wouldn't it just make more sense to catch a cab and skip all of that other drama? I'm just saying. Of course, Riot Zone doesn't need me to invent problems. This is one game that is littered with annoying problems, such as the terrible music, repetitive gameplay, lame story and the lack of the two player mode. If you're going to beat Streets of Rage then you're going to need to two player support. Better luck next time, Riot Zone.

Does It Still Hold Up?
It plays almost exactly like Streets of Rage and Final Fight, which is to say that it's a game where you mash buttons and pretend to have fun for a couple of hours. The game's repetitive gameplay hasn't held up well, but it's not as outdated as some of the games on the Virtual Console. The problem with Riot Zone is that it doesn't bring anything new to the table; it's just a series of lame cliches that seem like they're created just to get on your nerves. Oh, and like I said before, the lack of the two-player support is unforgivable.

Is It Worth the Money?
$8 for a Streets of Rage clone that doesn't have two-player support? Forget that. If you really must have a classic brawler then just go with Streets of Rage 2 ... heck, I would go for Streets of Rage 3 over this wannabe. This just proves that not every classic brawler needs to be represented on the Virtual Console.

This Week in GameTap
Every week I plan on taking a look at the classic games being uploaded on the GameTap service. Regardless of whether it's part of their free or premium service, GameTap offers a wide variety of old school games that is worth checking out. Here are the most recent games uploaded to their server, keep in mind that all of these games are free to play unless otherwise stated:

1942 (Arcade)
One of Capcom's greatest 2D shooters returns to the GameTap service. This is 1942, the 1984 shooter that spawned one of Capcom's best known shooter franchises. Haven't had a chance to play through 1942? Never fear, because GameTap is here to help. This GameTap port is near identical to the arcade game, which is to say that it's a whole lot of fun from beginning to end. While a lot of great 2D shooters hit the GameTap service, you'll definitely want to make some time for 1942. And when you're done with 1942, I also suggest you check out the sequel, 1941. There's just something about being able to go between two of the best 2D shooters of all time for free that makes me happy that GameTap is around. Hopefully we'll continue to see Capcom's long line of amazing 2D shooters in the future.





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