Retro Round-up for January 4th

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posted 1/4/2008 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 a couple of classic Neo Geo action games, a couple of bubble blowing dinosaurs and a crazy action/role-playing game from Treasure. All that and more when you check out the first episode of the Retro Round-Up of 2008!

Bubble Bobble (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Long before Taito decided to turn it into a franchise, Bubble Bobble was just a fun action game that you and a friend could play together. It was nothing too revolutionary, it featured two dinosaur creatures blowing bubbles to trap enemies and earn points. Through one hundred levels the two characters (annoyingly named Bub and Bob) battled bad guys and collected fruit. In 1988 Taito decided to port the game to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Thanks to its attention to detail, Bubble Bobble became an 8-bit hit that actually worked better on a home console than it did in the arcade. Fast forward twenty years and Bubble Bobble has been resurrected for the Nintendo Virtual Console. While the graphics and sound are kind of annoying, Bubble Bobble still manages to be a great two-player action game. Not only does this game feature more levels than you can possibly play through in one sitting, but it's also fun to play with friends. At $5, Bubble Bobble is definitely the most tempting classic game of the week.

Does It Still Hold Up?
With its simple gameplay and endearing characters, Bubble Bobble remains a great action game. The game itself is fast and exciting, ultimately offering you a fantastic port of an already memorable coin-op arcade game. While there have been a number of sequels and spin-offs in the past, I would love to see Taito put some time into it and create a real sequel along the lines of Pac Man Championship Edition on the Xbox Live Arcade. However, as a port, this NES Bubble Bobble gets the job done.

Is It Worth the Money?
As a five dollar game you can't go wrong with Bubble Bobble. This is a solid action game full crazy level designs and two-player action. It's also a fantastic port, something you don't hear very often about an NES game. It's a shame they didn't release a better version of the game, but this works perfectly as a five dollar game. Now get on that true Bubble Bobble sequel already.

Light Crusader (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Light Crusader is not your ordinary Treasure game. While most Treasure games are all about fast action, interesting gimmicks and non-stop bosses, Light Crusader is more of an action/role-playing game, sort of a serious take on The Legend of Zelda or Landstalker. Unlike most Treasure games, Light Crusader features a decidedly European look, which flies in the face of the anime-inspired look many of their action games had. Beyond that, Light Crusader is really nothing more than a traditional Zelda-style action/RPG. You play a brave knight who sets out to solve some mysteries and slay some bad guys. The good news is that you get to do exactly that, slay dragons and solve mysteries. Unfortunately, you've probably already done a lot of this before. The game is played from this awkward isometric look, which not only looks bad but makes it difficult to navigate through some of the dungeons. While it tends to play a lot like the Landstalker series, Light Crusader has more of an emphasis placed on the puzzle solving mechanic. While these puzzles can be fun, I found that the large amount of brainteasers slowed down the pace of the overall experience. It's rare for me to not recommend a Treasure game, up until this point they have had one amazing game after another. But Light Crusader just isn't as exciting as it could have been, and in a lot of ways represents the very worst of Treasure's designs. You may still find something to like in Light Crusader, but this is one adventure game that left me scratching my head.

Does It Still Hold Up?
These days most games aren't played from an isometric viewpoint ... and for good reason! All it will take is a few minutes with this game to remind yourself why these isometric angles are such a bad idea. The game does have a unique look, but the controls, magic and puzzles never come together like they should. While most of Treasure's work still remains exciting and fresh today, Light Crusader just feels like a giant missed opportunity.

Is It Worth the Money?
If you've played all of the Zelda games (and the wannabes), then Light Crusader may be worth looking into. Don't expect a game on the same level as Landstalker or Neutopia, but there are some good ideas found in this traditional dungeon crawler. Fans of Treasure will surely be disappointed by this half-assed effort. All in all I would go back and replay Gunstar Heroes or Dynamite Headdy, that way you can remember why you fell in love with Treasure in the first place.
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