Retro Round-up

Article

posted 7/5/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Wii 360

Welcome to the first edition of retro round up, a weekly look into the downloadable console titles.  This is co-published piece with Defunct Games so i you you'll find the piece up on their website as well.

Ecco: The Tides of Time (Virtual Console)

What Is It?
When Sega introduced Ecco the Dolphin it hit many as a major revolution in game design. At that time in gaming history most titles were based around space shooters, action heroes saving the world, plumbers jumping on mushroom people, and fantasies that were far from final. Ecco the Dolphin was a breath of fresh air, the type of game you rarely saw back in the 1990s. It was a free-roaming adventure game where you played a dolphin on a mission to have his family and friends. There was almost no talking and very little combat, it was just you solving puzzles and sightseeing in a world we had never been before. This sequel is pretty much exactly the same thing, just you versus nature. The game does add one interesting element to Ecco's quest - weird 3D levels. While these don't ruin the flow of the game, they really don't add much to the game either. Ecco is not one of those games that everybody will enjoy, there's just something about the tranquil atmosphere and slow pace that turns a lot of people off of this adventure. But if you're one of those people that loved the original game, then this sequel should keep you busy for at least a few more days. It could be worse; they could have released Ecco Jr.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
Going back and playing through The Tides of Time again I was surprised by how easy the controls were. I was also shocked at how difficult some of these puzzles are ... I guess I was just expecting to speed through this game thanks to all my years of playing adventure games. And that's when it hit me; there really isn't anything like this anymore. These days we're stuck with the same boring video game clichés that troubled us 15 years ago, action heroes, World War II shooters, etc. There's something about Ecco that feels refreshing all these years later, I suspect it has something to do with the leisurely pace and the completely original (and peaceful) locale. Either way, Ecco is still worth playing.
 
Is It Worth the Money?
So here is the part of the show where I make some predictable statement about the game's value. Yes, I love Ecco: The Tides of Time, I think it's one of the best adventure games that Sega ever developed ... but (and this is a big but), I feel it's a bit overpriced at $8. It's not that you shouldn't pay $8 for an amazing (and lengthy) game, but like so many other Sega games on the Virtual Console, Ecco: The Tides of Time is available for much less on the Sega Genesis Collection. For almost the same price as you would pay for both Ecco games on the Virtual Console you can buy the Sega Genesis Collection and get another 20 games (including Ecco Jr.). If you don't have a system to run that collection then this might be worth your time, but it's hard to justify one game for $8 when you could buy it along with 20 other games for $20.
 
 
Dragon Spirit (Virtual Console)

What Is It?
What's this, another shoot 'em up for the Virtual Console? You better believe it is, and this one is a real keeper! Based on an arcade game of the same name, Dragon Spirit (no relation to Ninja Spirit) is an overhead shooter that is just different enough to stand out. Dragon Spirit bucks the trend by staying far away from space; instead you're fighting over ancient worlds full of forests, mountains, lava, ice and water. You also aren't killing giant spaceships, but rather dinosaurs and crazy bird-like creatures. Better yes is the main character, which is a large dragon who grows multiple heads. It's also worth noting that Dragon Spirit is a lot more accessible than R-Type and Gradius, thanks in large part to a difficulty that is neither too easy nor frustrating. You could probably argue that none of these elements ultimately change the genre much, but they do add a lot to the character of the overall game. Dragon Spirit is an exciting action game, and unlike anything else currently available on the Virtual Console.
 
Does It Still Hold Up?
The answer to this question depends entirely on how much you like 2D shooters. The good news is that the play control is spot on, the dragon is easy to maneuver, and the levels are a lot of fun to fight through. Of course, if you're not a fan of this kind of game then none of this is going to matter. Thankfully this game is saved from being just another overhead shooter by offering you more than a few compelling reasons to fly through these levels.
 
Is It Worth the Money?
Unlike Gradius III and R-Type, Dragon Spirit is a game you probably haven't played. And even if you have, you probably haven't played the game recently. This is an action-packed shooter full of cool levels and fun boss fights. I would even go as far as to say that this is one of the best characters found in a shooter, mostly because it's something more than a spaceship. For $6 it's hard to go wrong with this game, even if you are completely fed up with 2D shooters.
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