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 celebrate Nintendo's 300th Virtual Console release. We're definitely on our way to one Virtual Console game for every day of the week. Unfortunately, at one game a week, it's going to take more than a year to actually hit that magic number. But who cares, because we have a big release to review. Right? This thing is huge, right? Nope, it's just the long-awaited release of Majora's Mask, the black sheep in the Zelda franchise. Find out if the rest of this week's releases are as disappointing when you tune into this week's exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
(Virtual Console/Nintendo 64/$10)
What Is It?
You know how people always complain about how the Legend of Zelda series seems recycle many of the same cliches from one game to the next? You know the trappings - going from one dungeon to the next, collecting new items that open up new areas of the world, damsel in distress, etc. Well, Majora's Mask is the antithesis of that. Instead of just mimicking the success of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask decides to throw everything we thought we knew about the Zelda franchise right out the window. Like a video game equivalent of Grownhog's Day (the movie, not the actual day), the whole premise revolves around a three-day cycle. You still have dungeons to explore, music to play and bosses to best, but this time around you have to deal with time limits and a strange evolving world. To the annoyance of almost everybody, the game seemed too ready to focus on side-quests and mini-games, none of which were as fun as the standard adventuring. When the game was released it was considered a disappointment, especially when compared to Ocarina of Time (which many still consider to be the best game of all time). Majora's Mask went out of its way to shake up the usual Zelda trappings, but neither fans nor critics seemed to appreciate it. Since then Nintendo has given us only tried and true Zelda adventures.
Does It Still Hold Up?
If you played through Ocarina of Time, then you'll feel right at home with this second Nintendo 64 release. The graphics and sound are basically the same, only with a few added effects and "Expansion Pak" support. The controls are good, but do you expect anything less from a Zelda outing? The whole package is real solid, which should be reason enough to pick up Nintendo's 300th Virtual Console game.
Is It Worth the Money?
I used to say that even the worst Zelda game was better than most other company's games, but then I picked up the three CDi installments and changed my tune. The good news is that even though I say the game is a disappointment, that doesn't mean you shouldn't go through it. This is perhaps the most fun game I've ever had being disappointing. Just don't go in expecting a typical Zelda adventure. However, if you're one of those people who has never gone through Majora's Mask, then I say you should definitely spend the $10 on this Virtual Console version.
WiiWare Limerick Theater
Every week Nintendo announces their new Virtual Console offerings. But what you may not know is that they also announce the newest games for the Wii's specialized WiiWare channel. This is the place where you can download cheap smaller games, the type of titles you would only pay a few dollars for. Thus far we haven't spent much time covering these hidden gems, but today that's going to end. Starting today we're going to cover the WiiWare line-up just as we would any other section. To keep things consistent, we have decided to post all WiiiWare reviews in the form of a limerick. This week we're looking at something called Silver Star Chess, I have a hunch that it's a chess game!
Silver Star Chess
There once was a game called Silver Star Chess and it's fun ... I guess. It's basically the same as every other chess game, but at least the tutorials take away a lot of the stress.
The Great DSiWare Haiku
Not content with the Virtual Console and WiiWare, Nintendo has decided to offer up a THIRD avenue for downloading games. That's right, it's the DSiWare, and it's the best (and only) way to download games to your brand new Nintendo DSi. Each week we take a look at Nintendo's uploads through the form of poetry. Haiku, to be exact. Will these reviews help your purchase of DSiWare games? Nah, but they're a lot of fun to read. See for yourself when you read my haiku for Art Style: PiCTOBiTS.
Art Style: PiCTOBiTS
The Argument Over Xbox Live Arcade
Yes, that's the game's name.
Lowercase "I" can suck it.
Stop that trend RIGHT NOW!
Now that you've had your fill of the Virtual Console, maybe it's time to check out This Week in Xbox Live Arcade. This is the part of our show where we take a look at the brand new Xbox Live Arcade titles, and then review them using our unique POINT/COUNTERPOINT style. In these reviews I will make a solid point about a game, and then I will argue the other side just to confuse everything. What do I really think about this week's Xbox Live Arcade game? I guess you'll never know. Instead you get what has to be the single least useful review ever posted on this website. Join us as we take an inconclusive look at Rare's Banjo Tooie and Sega's long-awaited Virtual On port (as reviewed by Defunct Games's own Lee Miller).
It's a simple (and addictive) take on badminton. Shown from a 2D perspective, Blazing Birds is a fast-paced sport starring a couple of robots and a shuttlecock. This is a surprisingly simple (yet fun) look at outdoor sports, and is perfect for one on one multiplayer action. It's a little difficult to figure out right at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll be coming back to this simple game over and over again. The XNA crew strikes again with another solid effort at an affordable price.
I like the price point ($5) and the robot take on badminton, but I got bored of the game after only a few rounds. In fact, I was tired of the game BEFORE even playing my first game. Just to get to the actual game I had to sift through what felt like a dozen menus, all of which could have been condenced in a more manageable way. I also found the game's simplicity actually worked against it, as I found the game to be both simple AND shallow. Fun with a friend, but don't try this by yourself.
Gel: Set & Match
What an interesting concept. The game has a real unique spin on the Puyo Puyo style of puzzle games. Instead of colored blocks falling from the sky, you are tasked with moving these blocks horizontally. But this is not a 2D puzzle game, instead it takes place on a psuedo-3D plane where a large truck is trying to make its way down a dusty road and you have to clear all of the objects in its way. You pick up these blocks and then throw them at similar blocks, trying to match up like colors. However, if you fail to match the colors and the truck runs over too many blocks, it will break down and your game will be over. It's simple, yet a lot of fun.
This game tries too hard to be different, yet at the end of the day it's nothing more than a different way to play the same old puzzle games. Why run around and move blocks when you can cut out the middleman and just play a traditional puzzler. I also don't think the gimmick holds up real well, I found myself getting bored after only a few short rounds. This is another unique concept, but unique does not translate to being good.