Retro Round-up for January 2nd

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posted 1/2/2009 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 may be the first episode of 2009, but this week we're still reviewing 2008's retro offerings. On Monday Nintendo uploaded one final Virtual Console game, while on Tuesday (as opposed to Thursday) GameTap gave us three games to chew over. Unfortunately none of this week's games will wow you, but this episode is worth reading for our brand new GameTap haikus. No really, read to the very end and discover why 2009's Retro Round-Up is the article of the future. Or something like that. Just read the damn thing, will ya!

StarTropics II: Zoda's Revenge (Virtual Console/NES)
What Is It?
The year was 1994, the 16-bit generation was near its end and people were already getting excited about the prospects of the impending 32-bit war. Sounds like a perfect time to bring out an old school 8-bit action game. Wait ... what?? That's right, StarTropics II: Zoda's Revenge is the sequel to StarTropics that nobody asked for. Released four years earlier, StarTropics was a Zelda clone that just couldn't make up its mind. While the original game has managed to snag a loyal cult following, this sequel has been largely ignored. It turns out that there's a reason why nobody talks about Zoda's Revenge. Like the original, StarTropics II is an overhead action/adventure game that has you taking part in an elaborate (although ultimately pointless) story. This time around you're chasing aliens through time and space. It's pretty ridiculous. I'll give the developers credit, they have attempted to advance the story and make a slightly more mature adventure. The problem is that this game felt completely outdated, especially when compared to all of the must-have overhead action/adventure games on the 16-bit Super NES (Zelda III: A Link to the Past, Soul Blazer, etc.). Fans of the original will no doubt find something to like about this game, but to me it feels like a shoddily thrown together afterthought. StarTropics wasn't the worst game of all time, but it definitely wasn't good enough to warrant a sequel.


Does It Still Hold Up?
Although the story is completely pointless and the adventure isn't much fun, the gameplay is actually pretty good in this forgotten sequel. Part of that has to do with the fact that by 1994 everybody pretty much knew how to make a good adventure game, but the game didn't feel as dated as I thought it might. The graphics, on the other hand, look about as outdated as you can be. I like that the developers were trying to inject a few new ideas into the franchise, but I'm not sure I would say any of them added much to the overall product. The game holds up, but just barely.

Is It Worth The Money?
Fans of the original StarTropics may get a kick out of the game's cheesy story and maturing character, especially since it's only $5. However, if you were only one those people who didn't care for the original, then there's no reason to even think about buying this unfortunate sequel. The truth is, there are far better adventure games on the Virtual Console, including several Zelda games, two Neutopia games and the amazing Landstalker. Sure you have to spend a few extra dollars on most of those games, but it's sure beats the heck out of playing through StarTropics II!
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