Retro Round-up for September 5th

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posted 9/8/2008 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 have some good ... but we also have some bad. Up first we have one of Nintendo's oldest puzzle games, Clu Clu Land. Thankfully we pivot from that to Super Mario RPG, a game that millions of retro gamers have been demanding. This week we also check out the happenings at GameTap and Xbox Live Arcade. Here's a hint: We're still talking about American McGee's Grimm. Find out what we think of all this when you read another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!

Clu Clu Land
What Is It?
Talk about a relic from the past, Clu Clu Land an early 8-bit puzzle game for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Famicom. On the surface this game looks like a simplistic Pac-Man clone, however upon closer inspection the game has very little to do with Namco's influential dot gobbler. Instead of fussing with a maze, you (and your sea urchin-thing) go through gates looking for hidden gems and dodging enemies. The concept and execution is simple, but it's also surprisingly challenging. On the other hand, the graphics are understandably simple and the controls are just a little too sluggish for my tastes. Clu Clu Land was one of Nintendo's early gems, but it's hard to go back to this frantic puzzler.


Does It Still Hold Up?
Absolutely not, the controls range from sluggish to impossible to use. In fact, I found myself having to play a few rounds just so that I could start hitting some high scores. The main character doesn't control like you would expect him to, and that creates all sorts of terrible situations. This is the kind of game that requires precise movement, but that is definitely not what we get in this game.

Is It Worth the Money?
Like so many early NES games, Clu Clu Land is definitely not worth your five bucks. The concept is simple and cute, but there's no way you're going to want to play this for more than a few minutes. Even those who remember this game fondly will have a hard time justifying the price tag.


Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
What Is It?
It's true what they say, if you wait long enough history will repeat itself. Don't believe me? Look at the similarities between 1996's Super Mario RPG and 2008's Sonic the Hedgehog Chronicles. Both games are from well-respected adventure game makers (Square and BioWare). Both games star well-known characters that everybody loves (Mario and Sonic). Yet, both games seem to be met with a lot of resistance. When you tell somebody that Sega is publishing a Sonic RPG you mostly get boos and heckling, but that's the exact same reaction people had when first confronted with the news about the Super Mario RPG. How can these characters weave an intriguing story? Who is going to want to play this? Will this be Mario's jump the shark moment? These were the questions stuck in people's heads 12 years ago. These are the same questions you would likely hear if you told somebody about BioWare's Sonic RPG. Well, Sonic RPG doubters, now is your chance to go back in time and check out the Super Mario RPG, a classic 16-bit game that features our favorite plumbers off on an adventure to save the princess. Oh, fine, you've heard it all before, but this really is one of the best games Square made on the Super NES.


Does It Still Hold Up?
Seeing as it's a role-playing game, the actual gameplay mechanics feel pretty natural. This game has a slight emphasis on the action, but fans of old school turn-based role-playing games will surely find something to like about this game. The writing is also strong, even though it's a Japanese game about Nintendo mascot characters. Oh, and the real reason that this game holds up so well? No Waluigi!

Is It Worth the Money?
Of course this game is worth your money, it's one of the best games currently available for the Virtual Console. The game isn't perfect by any stretch, but it's probably an adventure you haven't played through in a long time (if ever). Let's not forget that there was a time when Square could do no wrong, and this little gem was right at the tail end of that era. Super Mario RPG should give everybody hope that maybe BioWare can pull out a great playing Sonic RPG. Then again, I'm just waiting for Mistwalker to give us the definitive Bubsy the Bobcat RPG!
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