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 Nintendo scares us (and seemingly answers one of my biggest complaints
) by releasing TWO games on the Virtual Console. To celebrate Halloween, Nintendo has decided to upload the tongue-in-cheek Konami game, Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Super NES). Also this week we get the decidedly not scary arcade version of Golden Axe. See what I thought of these two games when you check out another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
What Is It?
It was only two weeks ago I was lamenting about how much of a rip-off the Virtual Console Arcade version of Altered Beast was. This is a game that was already on Nintendo's classic games service being released a second time for more money. To add insult to injury, Altered Beast is one of Sega's worst games, a fact that only made the whole ordeal that much worse. In fact, it was so sleazy that I ended up asking Is Nintendo's Virtual Console Broken?
Apparently Sega and Nintendo haven't learned their lesson from the Altered Beast debacle, because here we go again with Golden Axe.
In case you haven't heard of Golden Axe before, it's a standard 2D brawler where you run around the screen beating up bad guys and exacting some sort of revenge. The only reason anybody remembers this "classic" is because it's set in a fantasy world where you cast magic, fight with swords and kick midgets for potions. This formula managed to spawn two 16-bit sequels and a number of weird spin-offs. There's an argument to be made for the quality of the first installment; it may be a little campy by today's standards, it manages to have a lot of character and good ideas. There's just one problem - with the Genesis version already on the Virtual Console, this more expensive arcade version is totally unnecessary. There are a few differences, but they aren't enough to warrant a second purchase. With so many Sega arcade games to feature on the Virtual Console, why choose a game that is already represented?
Does It Still Hold Up?
Golden Axe is a simple game, the type where most of your time is spent mashing the attack button. The game's use of magic and weaponry goes a long way to keeping this game fresh, even though we see a lot of that kind of action in modern games. The graphics are crisp and I prefer this game's ending to the home version. Golden Axe does hold up ... but it's definitely showing its age.
Is It Worth the Money?
This Virtual Console Arcade game is a bad deal for a number of reasons. For one thing, Golden Axe is already on the Virtual Console. What's more, the Genesis version is actually cheaper than this arcade port. I personally don't think that either version is worth the high price, but fans of the game shouldn't be asked to buy the game twice. This is especially offensive when you see how similar the two versions actually are. You can find this game for far cheaper on Sega's various compilation discs, so look elsewhere for your Golden Axe needs.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
What Is It?
Oh sure, you could spend this weekend at home with the lights off playing contemporary horror games like Saw and Ju-On: The Grudge, but I'm here to tell you that Zombies Ate My Neighbors is the perfect game for your Halloween fun. This 16 year old Konami action game combines the action of Midway's popular Gauntlet series with the cheesy fun of some of Hollywood's best-loved scary movies. Best of all, you and a friend can battle through the game's 55 levels in a beautifully executed cooperative mode. The gameplay is fast and the levels are full of crazy throwbacks to some of the best (and worst) monster movies of all time. It may not be the scariest game you could play, but it offers a long and involving story, memorable boss characters and an intriguing premise that dares you to put it down. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is one of Konami's very best games, and it makes for a perfect title for your Halloween celebrations.
Does It Still Hold Up?
I was surprised at how easy the game was to get into 16 years later. I haven't played this game in years, yet I had no trouble jumping right back into the thick of things. Bringing a friend along for the ride is the way to go, and even with a second player the game runs smoothly and the controls are precise. Like Gauntlet, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has a timeless quality that holds up well in the 21st century.
Is It Worth the Money?
It's hard to hate Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The game has a great sense of humor, TONS of levels, enough secret areas to keep you playing long after it's over and solid two-player support. This is one of the best Virtual Console releases of the year as far as I'm concerned. This, along with giving us two games in one week, goes a long way to reassure me that Nintendo's Virtual Console isn't broken. I hope that this release moves enough units t warrant a release of the sequel (Ghoul Patrol) and maybe even a possible reboot to the franchise. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is definitely worth your money.
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