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
. Believe it or not, this is one of the most important weeks yet. This week Nintendo did the unthinkable and released two games that have never been released in their original state. Not only do we get the Japanese sequel to Super Mario Bros., but we also get Treasure's amazing shooter, Sin & Punishment. And if that wasn't enough GameTap really stepped up and delivered 17free classic games. That's right, 17 games! This is a packed show (even without the likes of the Xbox Live Arcade) so put down Halo 3 and check out this week's Retro Round Up ...
Sin & Punishment
What Is It?
When it comes to the top tier Nintendo 64 games chances are you've already played through Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, Paper Mario and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but there's one triple-A title that you've probably never been able to add to your collection. That game is Sin & Punishment, a Japan-only 3D shooter from Treasure, the people that brought us such classics as Gunstar Heroes, Ikaruga and Dynamite Headdy. Although it was set to come out in the states, Nintendo cancelled it at the last minute and disappointed fans of fast-paced action games. Sin & Punishment is like a cross between Sega's seminal shooter Panzer Dragoon and the Fabtek's arcade game Cabal. Tons of enemies pop up in the background and it's your job to shoot them down with your analog-controlled targeting system. What sets Sin & Punishment apart is the pure style of the game, especially when it comes to the multiple boss battles. The game is hectic from the start and never lets up; it's a non-stop joy ride through highly detailed levels. But the important part about this game is that it's something you could normally not buy in the United States. Sin & Punishment marks the first time an unreleased Nintendo 64 game has been featured on the console, and that alone is reason enough to buy this long overdue title. The game may look and feel a bit dated by today's standards, but it's one of those games you've probably never played before and by buying it you will be sending the message that you like the idea of getting unreleased games on the Virtual Console. Who knows, maybe if this is a success we'll finally see the Super NES sequel to StarFox Nintendo cancelled at the last minute.
Does It Still Hold Up?
There are people out there that for whatever reason can't get into the idea of playing an on-rails shooter, no matter how great it looks or how good the gameplay is. Those people missed out on Sega's amazing Panzer Dragoon Orta and will no doubt miss out on Sin & Punishment, one of the best Nintendo 64 games of all time. If you're one of those people that hate the idea of being on rails then chances are you're going to think the gameplay is terribly dated, but for everybody else this game holds up remarkably well.
Is It Worth the Money?
Coming it at a steep $12, Sin & Punishment is officially the most expensive game currently available on the Virtual Console. Since most gamers have never actually played this game before the $12 asking price may seem a bit over-the-top, but considering that this the Japanese version of the game is still going for more than $100 on eBay, I would say this Virtual Console port is quite a value. The good news is that Sin & Punishment is worth every penny, and it's a good way to let Nintendo know that you want more of these kinds of games on their download service. Don't be cheap; Sin & Punishment is one of the best games released this month on the Wii.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
What Is It?
Sin & Punishment is not the only game this week that has never been released in the United States. This is Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, the REAL sequel to Miyamoto's classic 8-bit platformer. While we Americans were given a Super Mario sequel that featured vegetables, Birdo and a guy named Wart, the Japanese were playing through a Mario game that looked and played almost exactly like the first game. Unfortunately we didn't get our hands on these "lost levels" until the 1993 release of Super Mario All-Stars, and at that point Nintendo had gone in and cleaned up the graphics to make them more presentable on the 16-bit system. So what is Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels? Imagine if Nintendo had decided to farm out this Mario sequel to another group of developers, and instead of keeping the fun, light-hearted nature of the original game they decided to make it dark and very, very difficult. There's no reason to imagine, because that's exactly what happened with the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2. This is a dark and dreary Mario game full of the same enemies and level designs. But don't let the graphics fool you, this is also an extremely difficult game that will challenge even the most hardcore Mario fanboy. The problem is that there isn't much of a change between the first and second game, outside of a new power-up (which is actually more of a power-down) you'll be asked to do the same thing that you did in the first exciting adventure. Only this time around it's not nearly as much fun or exciting. Still, this is one of those games that Mario fans should have in their collection if for no other reason it gives you perspective on what Miyamoto brought to the table. You can still have a lot of fun with The Lost Levels, but expect this game to kick your ass.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The problem with this game is that it plays exactly like the first game, which is one of those titles we can play over and over again without getting bored. Usually that would be a good thing, but in this case it's hard to get over the fact that this looks and plays like a game we love, but is frustrating and uninteresting at the exact same time. The gameplay does hold up, but the game itself is a bit of a mess.
Is It Worth the Money?
Let's face facts here, no matter which Mario sequel you play (be it Super Mario Bros. 2 U.S. or this Lost Levels stuff) you're going to be disappointed that it's not on the same level as the other adventures. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels is not a very good game, the levels are frustrating and there's not much new to talk about here. But it's worth having in your collection and deserves to be played through at least once. Oddly enough this 8-bit game is one dollar more than most of the other NES titles. I suspect that's due to the fact that this has never been released before, but whatever the reason is I say it's worth the cash. It's not very often that you get a brand new Mario game to play through, even if it's not one of his better adventures.
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