Retro Round-up for June 12

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posted 6/12/2009 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.

We're back after a week off thanks to the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. This week we're not only spending time with the recently released downloadable content, but also what we missed last week. Join us as we take a look at Boulder Dash, Genghis Khan II, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Altered Beast, Gunstar Heroes and many, many more. This is a giant pile of the Retro Round-Up that you simply cannot miss!

Boulder Dash (First Star Software/Commodore 64/$5)
What Is It?
Rockford has a kickass name and a tough job ahead of him. His plan is to dig. And when I say dig, I mean that he's going to make his way through cave after cave dodging enemies, avoiding traps and, most importantly, collecting gems and other rare items. This is Boulder Dash, the popular digging simulator from the mid 1980s. Although there was a Nintendo Entertainment System port, this Virtual Console release brings us the Commodore 64 original. With outdated graphics and a high price tag, Boulder Dash may not be everybody's cup of tea. But it's nice to see that not every game on the Commodore 64 was woefully out of date. Boulder Dash will immediately remind you of other, more recent "classics," but don't let that keep you from playing one of the Commodore 64's very best games.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Did you know that there's a PSP version of this game coming out this year? It's true. The only reason I bring that up is to get your attention away from the horribly outdated graphics, sound and gameplay. Don't get me wrong, this game is still playable, but there's something about the way the game feels that just screams 1980! Patient gamers will find that this is an exciting action game full of original concepts and ideas.

Is It Worth the Money?
As a five dollar game, I say you could do a lot worse than Boulder Dash. What was exceptional a quarter century ago is not merely decent, but I say decent is good enough to warrant the five dollar price tag. I wonder why Nintendo chose to go with this C64 version and not the NES port, either way this is definitely a lot of fun.

BD

Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf (Koei/Super NES/$8)
What Is It?
Like Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf was one of those strategy games that I never understood. All these years I figured that it was because I was too young when these games came out. But now that I've been checking them out on the Virtual Console I am finding that I have many of the same problems. This is the sequel to the 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System, and outside of a new story, multiplayer support and slightly improved graphics, very little has changed. What's interesting is that for whatever reason we never saw the original Genghis Khan release on the Virtual Console. At its core this is a strategy game about conquering other lands and cultures, but it's done in such a complicated way that you'll be micromanaging everything and constantly confused. The two-player support is nice to bring somebody else in on the confusion. With outdated graphics and needlessly complicated menus, Clan of the Gray Wolf is hard to fully recommend.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics and sound remind me of an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System game and all you're doing is clicking through menu after menu. The good news is that the controls are responsive and easy to use, it's just that everything else is archaic. These games were never about flashy graphics and fast gameplay, so at the end of the day it doesn't much matter how well they hold up.

Is It Worth the Money?
Are you already a fan of Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms? If you are, then you should just move on to my WiiWare limericks, because nothing I have to say is going to matter. This is one of those games I can't get into. That doesn't make it bad, but it does make me feel like an idiot. If you are like me and get confused by Koei's 16-bit entries, then you should avoid this game at all cost. Everybody else should approach this game with extreme caution.

GK
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