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 Pokemon game, Ghosts 'n Goblins and a baseball game that doesn't suck. Oh, and we're going to indulge ourselves in a second helping of Commodore 64 games courtesy of GameTap!
Baseball Stars 2
What Is It?
Just in time for baseball's off season, Nintendo decides to upload Baseball Stars 2 to the Virtual Console. Baseball Star 2 is a cult classic among Neo Geo fans; it's an over-the-top arcade baseball game that featured good graphics and a loose control set-up. This game offers no frills or extras, it's pretty much just an arcade baseball game where you play a game and that's it. While there are a lot of people out there that love this game, I've never been able to look past some of the game's little quirks. I don't feel the camera moves fast enough and the game gets old real quick. I'll give you that the graphics are good (they still look remarkably good), but there isn't much of a game here. The good news is that this is a fantastic two-player game and it's easily the best Neo Geo game currently on the Virtual Console. If you're looking for a fun multiplayer baseball game for cheap then you can't go wrong with this arcade game. This is hardly the most realistic simulator you can buy, but it is the best 15 year old baseball game you can buy for $9.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The game has some technical problems that are more noticeable now than ever before. But if you can get past these problems you will find that the game has held up well. There are definitely some problems I would love to see addressed (such as the speed of the camera and the out fielding), but this is still a solid baseball game. Perhaps there's a reason that so many people continue to love this game all these years later.
Is It Worth The Money?
I have never been a huge fan of Baseball Stars 2, but even I was getting into it while playing through the game again. There are no frills or extras to speak of, but the game does have a great sense of style and solid controls. If you intend to play this with other people then this is $9 well spent, but everybody else should just use their money on something else. This isn't a good single-player game, so don't go into this looking for a lengthy season mode. Having said that, you can have a lot of fun with this game and it is easily the best baseball game on the Neo Geo (and Virtual Console).
Ghouls 'n Ghosts
What Is It?
Unless you've never actually read this feature before (which is definitely possible), you should already know that I'm a huge fan of Capcom's Ghosts 'n Goblins series. You'll remember that I raved about Ghouls 'n Ghosts on the Genesis and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts on the Super NES. I've been a huge supporter of the Maximo games and sometimes feel like the only person on the planet that enjoyed Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins. Heck, I even told you to check out Ghosts 'n Goblins for free on GameTap. Given all this information I bet you already know what I'm going to say about this NES port of Capcom's 21 year old game. I hate it. No, just kidding, I don't hate Ghosts 'n Goblins, but I would certainly concede that the original hasn't held up as well as its sequels. There are really two problems that people have with this game, one is generally the game's difficulty (which was frustratingly difficult at a time when all games were at least a little bit frustrating) and the lack of extra powers. The sequels would address the second concern (both Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts featured a wide assortment of weapons, armors and magics), but not the difficulty. Ghosts 'n Goblins is just a difficult franchise. My complaints with this version have nothing to do with the difficulty or lack of upgrades/weapons (though, I will admit that the lack of upgrades/armor does make this game feel just that much older), my concern has more to do with the fact that this is not a perfect port of the arcade game. Don't get me wrong, it's a close port, but it's not exact. And with GameTap allowing you to play the arcade game for free there's almost no reason to buy this downgraded NES port. Ghosts 'n Goblins is a fun game, but you're better off playing this one for free and buying the other two.
Does It Still Hold Up?
In a lot of ways the platforming is timeless. The concept of running from left to right battling menacing bad guys is something we can all enjoy, even if the concept of a 2D action game is somewhat dated by today's standards. This simple joy is made all the more fun when you see our hero running around in his tidy whities. The game isn't without a few noticeable issues, such as sluggish controls and a serious lack of checkpoints. You're not going to confuse it with Call of Duty 4, but some people may be surprised at how well this game has held up considering its age.
Is It Worth The Money?
I would say yes if a better version of this game wasn't already available for free on GameTap. Assuming that GameTap takes it down (it's bound to happen), $5 isn't too much to pay for what is a solid (although not perfect) port of one of the best arcade games of all time. I wouldn't buy this before the Genesis and Super NES games, but you could do a whole lot worse than Ghosts 'n Goblins.
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