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 an enormous show lined up for you, including four games for the Virtual Console and two for the Xbox Live Arcade. It's a week where anything can happen, including a visit from Master Higgins, an educational game with a giant ape, robot football, and the first SNK game to hit the Xbox Live Arcade. With so much to talk about maybe you should stop reading this introduction and check out this week's Retro Round-Up ...
Adventure Island (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
Adventure Island (or Hudson's Adventure Island, as the box states) is something of a remake of Sega's popular Wonder Boy arcade game. Outside of the main character and some of the level sprites, the two games are virtually identical. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, because Wonder Boy was a solid game in the arcades and Adventure Island is, for the most part, a solid port. You play Master Higgins, a stupid looking kid with a small loin cloth on a journey to defeat the evil of the island and save his buddy. Along the way he'll have to deal with the deep forest, the ocean, ice, fire and pretty much every other cliche you can think of from a 2D side scrolling platformer. One thing that does set Adventure Island apart from the rest of the crowd is the use of the skateboard, which, for reasons I have yet to fully understand, comes from a giant egg. In fact, all of the weapons come from giant eggs. Apparently this shallow platformer was popular enough to spawn three 8-bit sequels and a couple of Super NES games.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Adventure Island was never one of the top tier 2D platformers; instead it was a looked at as a fun diversion between Mario sequels. Having said that, you can have some fun going through Adventure Island if you don't set your expectations too high. The gameplay is very basic (you run, jump and throw axes), the levels are uninspired, and the only difference between the bosses is there head.
Is It Worth The Money?
While there's certainly some fun to be had in Adventure Island, fans of the series would be better off paying one dollar extra for the slightly enhanced TurboGrafx-16 version that has been hanging out on the Virtual Console for a few months. You aren't just paying for better graphics, the game actually offers improved levels and more responsive controls. Some may argue that neither of these games is worth picking up, but if you really must buy one of them make sure it's New Adventure Island.
Bonk 3: Bonk's Big Adventure (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
I remember a time when the third installment of a game actually meant something. When you saw that three next to your favorite franchise you knew that you were in store for something amazing. Super Mario Bros. 3 is easily the best 8-bit Mario game, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 managed to up the ante for Sega's blue mascot, and even Castlevania 3 was able to remind gamers why they loved that franchise in the first place. Does Bonk 3 do the same thing for Hudson's popular TurboGrafx-16 franchise? Unfortunately the answer is no, Bonk 3 is really just more of the same ... only this time it's grown boring and stale. That's not to say that Bonk 3 doesn't add some new features, this installment actually features a brand new multiplayer mode, new power-ups, and improved graphics. The biggest change to Bonk this time around is that you can grow real big and real small, a feature that helps you access brand new areas you could never reach as a normal sized Bonk. Does that sound familiar? It should, because New Super Mario Bros. did exactly the same thing 13 years later. Carping aside, Bonk 3 is still a fun game even if it feels like just more of the same. This is the final chapter in the Bonk adventure, it's a shame Hudson was never able to resurrect the franchise for something bigger, perhaps there's hope that in the future we'll see a brand new Bonk game, perhaps using state of the art next generation graphics or something.
Does It Still Hold Up?
The game play is pretty much on par with what you saw in Bonk 1 and 2, which is both a good and bad thing. I have always felt that the controls in Bonk are a little floaty, but even worse is the fact that there just isn't a lot to do with these games. The level designs are standard at best and there aren't that many secret locations to find. It's nice to see Hudson attempting a few new power-ups, but even those don't change the overall game as much as I would like. If you're a fan of the first two games then chances are you'll enjoy this, but if you've grown as tired of this franchise as me then maybe you should just skip this and pick up something better this week.
Is It Worth The Money?
If this is your first Bonk adventure then you should definitely check it out, the two-player option is cool and the graphics are as good as the franchise would ever get. But this game just isn't that different from the other Bonk games, if you already own Bonk 1 and 2 then you really don't need to play this. There is a lot of fun to be had with this game, but it's not the best use of your six dollars this week.
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