Retro Round-up for November 30

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posted 11/30/2007 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 take a look at Mario, Sonic, mutants, gambling and a flying character named Zonk. It's an episode you won't want to miss!

Ecco Jr. (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
While I have given favorable marks to the past Ecco the Dolphin games, this kid-centric Ecco game just bothers me. Released in 1995, Ecco Jr. feels like a cynical attempt by Sega to hook kids on the environmentally friendly adventure series so that they'll want to graduate to the more mature (and much better) Ecco games on the Genesis and Sega CD. Ecco Jr. is understandably easier, it's a very basic quest where you solve extremely easy puzzles and marvel at the beautiful underwater scenery. If you can get over the fact that this is nothing more than a gateway drug to harder Ecco games, then you will find that this is actually a pretty solid kid's game that is competently developed and generally good looking. The problem is that there are already better Ecco games on the market, so I would argue that kids should just go ahead and start with the slightly more difficult (but more fulfilling) Ecco the Dolphin game from 1993. If you already own one of the various Ecco the Dolphin games on the Virtual Console then you can pretty much skip this entry, and those who have yet to wade into the deep water should just go ahead and buy one of the Ecco Sr. games and not this crummy junior edition.

Does It Still Hold Up?

The graphics are good (though a bit more cartoony than what we saw in the previous Ecco games) and the environments are beautiful to look at. The controls are also solid; the game feels a lot like the Ecco Sr. titles. The problem is that this game just feels so unnecessary. It's not that the game doesn't hold up (because I'm surprised how well it actually does hold up), it's that there isn't much of a reason to buy this slightly scaled down Ecco game.

Is It Worth The Money?
Definitely not. The concept of making a slightly easier Ecco game to get kids hooked on the series is dubious at best. The problem is that I have a hunch that most younger gamers won't connect with this 12 year old game, so why not just go the extra step and pick up either of the other two Ecco games on the platform. I also hate the fact that this game is the same price of the other Ecco games, even though you aren't getting as much content (or challenge). If you haven't picked up an Ecco game yet then make sure and go with one of the other entries, it's better to just leave this kid's version alone.

Ecco Jr

Double Dribble (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Before there was NBA Jam, NBA Street and Ballerz, there was Double Dribble. This was Konami's arcade-style basketball game that took the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System by storm. With the game's solid graphics and quick game play it was easy to see why so many people loved it twenty years ago. But so much has changed in the last two decades and Double Dribble just feels like an ancient relic from the past. That's not to say that you can't still have a good time with it, but once the nostalgia wears off (which will happen within the first full game) you're left with a game that doesn't play particularly well, doesn't look good, has almost no options to speak of and can't compete with the modern arcade-style basketball games. In fact, this game can't even compete with the arcade-style basketball games from ten years ago. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the cool cinemas and effects that impressed us twenty years ago just look cheesy by today's standards. Not that this would be that big of a deal, but since the game itself doesn't play well it's just difficult to have a good time playing this old school basketball game.

Does It Still Hold Up?

While I can usually overlook outdated graphics, the thing I have a problem with is the crummy play control. This game just doesn't feel right, and as far as I'm concerned that keeps this game from being any fun at all. I can certainly understand why we all loved the game twenty years ago; after all, it was pretty much the only game like it in town and we can overlook some crummy design decisions because of how unique it was. But the same cannot be said twenty years later, especially now that we have games like NBA Jam and NBA Street. What's worse, there's almost nothing to do in the game. That is the biggest problem with those old school sports game, there's just nothing for you to do once you've played a few games.

Is It Worth The Money?
To some older gamers I'm sure the idea of picking up Double Dribble is tempting. After all, this is one of those games a lot of people loved back in the day and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that a lot of retro gamers have a lot of good memories connected to the title. But don't do it. Resist the urge to relive your childhood with this classic game. Playing this game now will only ruin your memories and make you question your childhood. It's better to just remember this one from afar, otherwise you'll probably be a bit disappointed when you actually do play it again.

Double Dribble
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