Retro Round-up for May 29th

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posted 5/30/2008 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.This week we return to a somewhat regular schedule, featuring two games for the Virtual Console and one for the Xbox Live Arcade. On the Virtual Console side we have the bizarre racing/Pac-Man hybrid, City Connection, as well as the original Metal Slug. And not to be outdone, Atari has ported their amazing 1980 game Warlords to the Xbox Live Arcade. Unfortunately we didn't get anything from GameTap, but at least we weren't fired (like their entire editorial staff). See what is worth playing this week when you check out the final May episode of This Week in Defunct Games!

City Connection (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Just in time to cash in on the "success" of the Speed Racer movie, Nintendo has decided to upload this bizarre faux-racing game. Originally released 23 years ago, City Connection is a cross between a 2D racing game and Pac-Man. Don't confuse this with the very similar (although top-down) racing/Pac-Man hybrid, Moto-X, City Connection is a beast all its own. Basically the game has you going from one famous city to another trying to drive over every inch of the road. This is easier said than done, as you will end up trying to avoid police cars, gigantic kitty cats and other weird obstacles. As you drive through the city (which features floating roads you'll have to jump to) the road will change color, so all you will need to do is avoid as many enemies as possible and paint the whole town white. Once you've done that you will move on to the next level and repeat the process. As a cute little launch title City Connection works, but it's not addictive enough to keep you playing for long. You're better off just checking out Moto-X ... or even Pac-Man.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Like a lot of first-generation NES games, City Connection is a little sluggish to control. What's more, the gameplay is repeated so frequently that you'll probably grow bored of the game within a level or two. The sound effects are also poor, which is to be expected from the 8-bit NES. This game may bring back good memories for a lot of people, but 23 years later this game just hasn't held up well.

Is It Worth the Money?
This is one of those games that I remember from the 1980s, but for whatever reason I avoided playing it until just recently. The first thing I noticed is how familiar it all felt, I couldn't believe that 20 years later I remembered this game so vividly. However, the moment I started playing it I realized why I wasn't in a rush to relive this particular memory. City Connection just isn't a lot of fun. The truth is that it probably wasn't a lot of fun in the 1980s, but we didn't mind because we didn't know any better. Now that I know better I know that City Connection is not worth your money.

City Connection

Metal Slug (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Metal Slug is a long-running 2D shooter franchise that was born on the SNK Neo Geo. In a lot of ways it's a Contra clone; only this game has a lot more character and far better graphics. You play an action hero who runs from left to right shooting soldiers, aliens, zombies and more. Oh, and you're supposed to save kidnapped homeless dudes. Of course, this is just a set up for non-stop action, amazing level designs and some of the best graphics and animation you have seen in this kind of game. But don't fool yourself; this game is really just a stylish Contra clone. This week Nintendo decided to upload the original Metal Slug, the 2D action game that started it all. Unfortunately the original game isn't the best of the bunch, but it's a fantastic place to start. The only problem is that this particular title has been available on the Wii for a year and a half, which means that there are a lot of old school gamers that already own it. I'm certainly not against them porting Metal Slug to the Virtual Console, but it would have been nice to get a few more unreleased titles first. All in all, Metal Slug is the great arcade game you remember from ten years ago ... just don't be too disappointed when you realize that you could already buy it for half the price.

Does It Still Hold Up?
While Metal Slug looks and plays like it's from the 1980s, this Neo Geo game is only eight years old. That would explain why the hand drawn artwork is so good. Unfortunately that doesn't explain why the gameplay is so archaic. Metal Slug is nothing more than you running and shooting your weapons, which is a hard thing to get wrong. But what puzzles me is why you can't shoot in diagonal directions. Not only would that make a lot of sense, but it would also make the whole game a lot more fun. If you can get past this minor gripe you will find an exciting action game that has held up remarkably well.

Is It Worth the Money?

Make no mistake about it, the original Metal Slug is a fantastic game that every 2D loving gamer should play at least once in their life. The graphics hold up well, the gameplay is solid (even if you can't shoot diagonally) and it has a wonderful sense of humor missing from most games in this genre. The problem is that you can buy this game (and all of its sequels) for a much better price. Heck, you could have bought this game at launch. You may remember it, it was called Metal Slug Anthology (see: <a href="http://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/Metal-Slug-Anthology-Wii/Item1352.aspx" target="blank_"><b>the full review of Metal Slug Anthology</b></a>). The math is simple, you can buy this one game for $9 on the Virtual Console, or you could all seven Metal Slug games for $30. Heck, at this point you should be able to find the game even cheaper used. So what is it going to be, Metal Slug for $9 or Metal Slug for $4? Perhaps the right answer is neither, since as of last week both Metal Slug 1 and 2 are available for free on GameTap.

Metal Slug

Warlords (Xbox Live Arcade)
What Is It?
Long before Rampart, Atari released a crazy looking four-player action game called Warlords. Warlords is a blend of two games, it takes a little bit of Breakout and combines it with Elimination. The game is actually quite simple, there are four colored forts found on each of the screen's corners, outside of the fort is a small shield that can deflect (and even catch) a flaming bouncing fireball. As that fireball moves around the screen it will start to break off pieces of the player's forts, until the ball is able to get inside and destroy your player's home base. As you might expect, the last player standing is the winner. While Warlords is not nearly as big as Rampart and other similar titles, this Atari classic does manage to hold its own. This is an incredibly fast game that is an absolute ball with friends (online or off). Unfortunately it's not the deepest game on the Xbox Live Arcade, but this is the kind of game that most people will become immediately addicted to. Like all of the Atari classics ported to the XBLA, Warlords features an "evolved" mode that takes the concept and throws on a new paint job and calls it a day. This new mode is lazy and nowhere near as much fun as the original. Part of the problem is the larger shield you get with the updated graphics; it takes a lot of the challenge out and ultimately makes the game a lot less exciting.

Does It Still Hold Up?

The original arcade game is fantastic, especially when you have a bunch of friends over. It may not look as good as Super Smash Bros. or Power Stone 2, but it's just as much fun to play with four players. The controls are pretty good, even though the Xbox 360's analog stick is a far cry from the original game's spinner control.

Is It Worth the Money?
While the gameplay isn't quite perfect, at $5 it's hard to resist a classic game like Warlords. The truth is that most old school gamers will completely ignore the "evolved" version, if only because it doesn't enhance the game (and in some ways actually takes away from the experience). But there is more than enough to warrant a five dollar purchase. It's a shame that Atari couldn't devote a little more time to this classic game, this is one of those titles that deserves to be revived for the 21st century.

Warlords





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