Retro Round-up for July 25th

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posted 7/25/2008 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. Since we were on location at the E3 Business & Media Summit last week, this week we have a special double episode for you. That means that we'll not only talk about this week's crappy Virtual Console games, but we'll also bring you up to speed with what came out last week. Oh, and there's a bunch of GameTap news, too. All this and more can be yours when you read this week's Retro Round-Up!

Donkey Kong 3
What Is It?
Donkey Kong 3 is the perplexing third installment to one of Nintendo's best loved 8-bit games. Making a complete u-turn from the second installment (Donkey Kong Jr.), Donkey Kong 3 returns to the man vs. gorilla gameplay of the original. In this game you play Stanley the Bugman, a purple-headed fellow that is trying to exterminate a bunch of thieving insects all while he deals with this giant gorilla. I don't know about you, but it seems like one of those targets is significantly more important than the other one. Anyway, Donkey Kong 3 feels more like a Space Invaders clone than an actual Donkey Kong game, which is why this title is so perplexing. It's not that it's bad, but there are only a couple of different levels to play and the actual never gels like it does with the first two Donkey Kong titles. It's certainly fun to go back and remind ourselves of this title, even if it ultimately lets us down with its uneven gameplay and boring level designs.


Does It Hold Up?
I hate to say it, but Donkey Kong 3 just isn't that compelling of a game. Unlike the first two games, the gameplay isn't about platforming, but rather shooting bug spray at insects and a giant monkey. The biggest problem is that the levels repeat far too often, and their difficulty is ramped up in frustrating ways. You could argue the same thing about the first two Donkey Kong games, but at least in those games you were spending more time in each one of the levels. I would mention that the gameplay is sluggish and boring, but at this point it would sound like I was kicking Donkey Kong 3 when it's down.

Is It Worth The Money?
Absolutely not. While it's certainly fun to go back and look at this 22 year old game, there's no reason you should spend five bucks on this repetitive shooter. There are far better shooters available this week, so let's just pretend that Donkey Kong 3 never happened. It's games like this that make me wish that Nintendo would put their Virtual Console games into context. I'm curious to see why this game is so drastically different from the other two games, going from a platformer to what is essentially a vertical shooter. This isn't the worst NES game on the Virtual Console, but that doesn't mean it's worth checking out.


Gley Lancer
What Is It?
Gley Lancer is an R-Type-style 2D shooter that has you piloting a spaceship and shooting everything that gets in your way. The game's gimmick is that you have these two orbiting satellites that can shoot in any direction. If that sounds familiar then it's because you've seen that in about a dozen other 2D shooters from the 1990s, which may explain why this unspectacular shooter was never released in the U.S. The game itself isn't bad, even if just seems to rehash most of the cliches we've come to know and love about the shooter genre. At least the gameplay is quick and the bosses are cool, but outside its rarity there isn't much going for this game. You're better off simply checking out one of the other 2D shooters, because there are already two dozen 16-bit shooters that look and play exactly like this import.


Does It Hold Up?
The gameplay is sound and the weapons are good, but there's a complete lack of originality. Even in 1992 this game felt formulaic. That's not to say you can't have some fun with this title, but Gley Lancer is too much like every other space shoot-em-up on the Genesis.

Is It Worth The Money?
Gley Lancer reminds me that nobody has brought the amazing Gaiares, that's easily one of the best 16-bit shooters out there. The game looks good and there are some cool items and bosses throughout the game, but you've been here before. At nine dollars this import shooter just isn't worth it. Maybe if this game did something new and original it would be worthwhile, but I just don't see that from this title. You're better off spending your money on Super Fantasy Zone.


Ninja Commando
What Is It?
Ninja Commando is the slightly improved sequel to one of the worst Neo Geo games of all time, Ninja Combat. This time around SNK has decided to take a terrible 2D brawler and turn it into a vertical shooter. Hmm, didn't we just get done talking about Donkey Kong doing the same thing? Well, anyway, Ninja Commando actually shares a lot with Capcom's classic Gun.Smoke, though this action/shooter concoction doesn't have the charm (or racism). The graphics are plain and the enemies repeat far too often. Couple this with sluggish controls and a boring story and you have yet another incredibly bad game for the Neo Geo. On the plus side this isn't Ninja Combat, but that doesn't make up for the fact that this is nine dollars. Seriously, nine dollars for Ninja Commando? Nintendo must have figured they could sneak that by us since we were busy covering E3. Pretty tricky Nintendo, pretty tricky.


Does It Hold Up?
Absolutely not, this is an arcade action game that is designed for one thing and one thing only - to take your quarters. The enemies are cheap and the bosses are beyond lame. What's worse, the gameplay isn't very good. The game's controls are sluggish at best and you're essentially fighting the same enemies over and over again. The fewer words we say about Ninja Commando the better it is for all of us.

Is It Worth The Money?
Think about all of the great Neo Geo games Nintendo could be uploading, but instead we get crap like Ninja Commando. Look, I'll admit that this is better than Ninja Combat, but that's like comparing sewage water to moldy toast. There's nothing compelling about this game, it simply exists because somebody thought that a ninja shooting game made sense. And maybe it does, but this game isn't the one to marry those two ideas. At nine dollars you're better off buying one of the two import Mega Drive games this week. Come on Nintendo; give us some good Neo Geo product so I can start praising my favorite SNK console.
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