Retro Round-up for November 27

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posted 11/27/2009 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 make up for lost time and review the past SIX Virtual Console releases. You read that right; we have six games to go through. We have everything from a game about a shape-shifting blob to the duplicated adventures of Wonder Boy to Street Fighter to Indiana Jones himself. We have a packed show full of good, bad and very average games. So, let's stop talking about what's on the show and actually dig into these retro reviews. It's time once again for another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!

A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia (NES/$5)
What Is It?
David Crane hates you! Developed by the mind that brought you Pitfall!, A Boy and His Blob is David Crane's very first NES game. The idea is simple enough, you solve puzzles by feeding your obedient blob jelly beans. That's right, jelly beans. Each jelly bean transforms the your blog into a helpful device, perfect for getting you over obstacles and onto tall ledges. You'll use the vanilla umbrella, the root beer rocket, the tangerine trampoline and the ketchup which, well, I'm sure you can figure it out. This concept rocks, but the execution errors on the side of brutal. The difficulty is extreme, you have only enough jelly beans to beat the game and at first you have no idea what you're supposed to do. This is brutal game development, the kind of game that will no doubt turn off many gamers.

Does It Still Hold Up?
Hey look, it's an open world game ... on the 8-bit NES! While this may not be Grand Theft Auto IV, it does have a lot of forward thinking gameplay ideas. I love the concept of the game, even if the actual game looks and feels like it should be on the Atari 2600. The controls are stiff and hard to get used to and the difficulty is so brutal that it's almost no fun at times. If you can get over these two problems, then you are set to enjoy a slightly outdated action/puzzle hybrid.

Is It Worth The Money?
Look, if you're the kind of person who is easily annoyed at games, then don't, under any circumstance, buy this game. It's not that A Boy and His Blob is a bad game, it's not. I personally love the game and fully recommend it to anybody up for a challenging action/puzzle game, but this is not for the faint of heart. If you're anything like me, then you'll curse David Crane for half of the game. And then it will click, and you'll memorize what you're supposed to do. If that doesn't sound like your type of game, then maybe you should check out the recent reimagining of A Boy and His Blob put out by Majesco.


Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine (Commodore 64/$5)
What Is It?
Cybernoid is one confusing game. On the surface this Commodore 64 game looks like all of the other space shoot-em-ups on the Virtual Console (Gradius, R-Type, etc.). But look closer, because you'll find something much more interesting. This is a space exploration game, think Metroid in a space ship. This means that you are flying through a connected world looking for power-ups and battling whatever gets in your way. But just because it resembles Metroid, don't take that to mean that it's easier than the rest of the shooters on the Virtual Console. Thanks in part to the Commodore 64's hardware; levels that look simple are often complicated by sluggish controls and cheap shots. Still, it's easy to have a great time in a game like Cybernoid. This is extremely forward thinking for the C64, the type of game that is due for a serious update.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The graphics are understandably crude and the gameplay is often sluggish and difficult, these are the game's real problem areas. However, the unique power-ups and cool level designs more than make up for the shortcomings. This is definitely one of the better Commodore 64 games on the Virtual Console.

Is It Worth The Money?
Anybody buying a Commodore 64 game should already expect outdated graphics and gameplay. This is a solid shooter, even if it's marred by some archaic gameplay decisions. I love the sense of exploration and the power-ups, even if I found myself angry over cheap deaths and a brutal difficulty. In a sea of Gradius rip-offs, I'm glad to see something unique hit Nintendo's download service. Definitely give Cybernoid a try.


Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (Super NES/$8)
What Is It?
Seeing the success of the Super Star Wars trilogy, Factor 5 set out to conquer the Indiana Jones trilogy. You would think that a whip would be as compelling a weapon as the light saber, but you would be wrong. This is a basic run and whip action game where you visit famous locations from the movie and battle Nazis and snakes. The problem is that the action isn't as imaginative this time around. You're fighting a lot of similar looking characters in areas that are hard to differentiate between one another. Worse yet, many of the best scenes from the trilogy are simply edited out of the game, leaving a so-so mix of mediocre action and predictable levels. That's not to say that you can't have fun with this game, but if you're expecting an action game on the scale of Super Star Wars, then you will definitely need to look elsewhere.

Does It Still Hold Up?
The controls are good and the music is surprisingly strong (even if it's easy to get annoyed by the faux-John Williams' score), but the levels are pretty dull and the whole thing is a little too repetitive. Still, the graphics are strong and there's enough challenge to keep you going for awhile. I say this game holds up ... it's just not much fun.

Is It Worth The Money?
While I was certainly disappointed by the game after coming off of the Super Star Wars series, I can't say that this is a bad game. It's missing a lot of components that made the film series so memorable and the levels could have been better designed, but it's not a bad game. If you're a huge fan of the series then maybe you'll have more fun than I did, I say give it a try if there's nothing else worth picking up. It's not terrible; it's just not the most exciting title on the Virtual Console.

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