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 I'm extremely busy worrying about how the economy is about to collapse, so I apologize up front if this isn't the longest episode we've had. We'll get back to the Xbox Live Arcade and GameTap next week, but this week we only have time to look at Shining Force II and Mario Golf. The good news is that both of these are solid titles, though the person that buys both certainly has varied taste. Find out what we thought of both of these games when you scroll down and check out another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
Oh come on, you know exactly what it is. It's Mario (and gang) playing a round of golf. This isn't Mass Effect, The Club or some other vaguely titled game that requires you to do research to figure out what it actually is. This is Mario Golf, a game where you play as Mario (or somebody from the Mushroom Kingdom, including Luigi, Bowser, Princess Peach, Baby Mario, Wario and more) trying to get the lowest score possible on the golf course. The nice thing about this Nintendo 64 game is that it's immediately accessible, so that even those who normally hate sports games will have a great time. Throw in a huge cast of characters (14 in total) and enough courses, and you'll be having fun for months to come. It's not as serious as other recent golf games on the Virtual Console, but oddly enough Mario Golf proves to be the most fun. Take that Neo Turf Masters!
Does It Hold Up?
The gameplay is pretty simple, so those looking for a deep golf game like the Tiger Woods series should look elsewhere. However, the graphics are surprisingly good, the game is fast paced and the courses are immediately fun and recognizable. It's not a perfect golf game and you're probably going to get sick of the game's lack of depth, but the game still feels as solid as it did a decade ago.
Is It Worth The Money?
At ten dollars Mario Golf is definitely the most expensive golf game on the Virtual Console, but it's worth spending the extra cash if you're looking for a golf game you'll still be playing months from now. The truth is that none of the Virtual Console golf games are going to give you a robust single-player mode, but Mario Golf comes about as close as we can hope. With great graphics, a lot of fun characters and enough diverse gameplay, Mario Golf is the kind of sports game that will attract both fans of the sport and those who have never even heard of it before. This game is well worth your ten bucks.
Shining Force II
What Is It?
It seems like every few months Sega gives us another episode in their "Shining" series. We've already reviewed the original Shining Force and Shining in the Darkness, so it shouldn't surprise anybody that Sega is returning with Shining Force II. This 14 year old tactical role-playing game tells a brand new story, but that's about the only thing that is significantly different about this title. Don't get me wrong, this is still a phenomenal role-playing game, but those expecting some huge difference between this and the other games in the series will be sorely disappointed. The good news is that the game is engaging enough to warrant a look, especially if you haven't played the first game in a few months. Shining Force II still feels like more of the same, but at least what it delivers is rock solid.
Does It Hold Up?
Like the first game, Shining Force II uses a lot of role-playing game cliches to tell its story. This 16-bit adventure game is actually rather easy to learn how to play, none of the gameplay elements or characters are too complex. The good news is that the challenge has held up well and the graphics are actually pretty cool, the art style of the one-on-one encounters is actually some of the best I've seen on the Virtual Console. The gameplay won't blow you away, but really, when was the last time you were truly impressed with how a role-playing game played?
Is It Worth The Money?
Shining Force II can be summed up by saying that it's just more of the same, but that shouldn't keep you from spending the eight bucks on this tactical role-playing game. The graphics are solid and the story is a little bit more interesting this time around. It's a real shame that we'll never get all three parts of Shining Force III for the Sega Saturn. Fans of the series will just have to be satisfied with this lengthy Genesis installment.
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