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Timing is Everything

Timing is Everything

Written by Cyril Lachel on 5/20/2009 for
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Every Friday we sit around and play the retro games released each week. To do this we check out what Nintendo decided to upload from week to week, allowing us a chance to go back and relive some of the best (and worst) games for the Genesis, Super NES, Commodore 64, NES and many other old school consoles. Each week we write up what we think and post it in a section we call the Retro Round-Up, and we've been at it for more than two years.

For the most part Nintendo does an excellent job of capitalizing on trends and upcoming releases. It's rare to see a big Nintendo release go by without the company first posting some sort of tie-in release on the Virtual Console. Unfortunately this attention to detail doesn't seem to exist past their own titles. Recently there have been a number of big game releases and news events that should have inspired Nintendo, but instead they released Nobunaga's Ambition or something equally irrelevant. As the saying goes, timing is everything. And right now it feels like Nintendo is on the losing end of that old adage. To demonstrate this, we've decided to put together a short list of the seven most recent examples of missed opportunities. See if you agree that indeed Timing Is Everything!

Fighting Street (TurboDuo)
Why Now?
Let's face facts here; Street Fighter is having the best year ever. After more than a decade of waiting fans finally get the sequel they've been waiting for, there's a new movie and people all over the world are still addicted to Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. Can you think of a better time to release the original Street Fighter? After all, it's the game that started it all. Sure, it's not very good. In fact, I would go as far as to say that by today's standards its downright unplayable. But can you think of a more perfect time to release the only port of the one Street Fighter games most franchise loyalists have never had a chance to play? Capcom, you missed your opportunity!

Would It Be Worth Buying?

There's no reason why Capcom and Nintendo couldn't have uploaded this misunderstood classic in the weeks leading up to the release of Street Fighter IV. The game was released in the U.S., it's on a console that is already emulated on the Virtual Console and we know that Capcom and Hudson are gung ho about Nintendo's retro game channel. I guess the question comes down to whether or not they should have released it. I'm of the mind that while it's not a very good game, Fighting Street is worth having to see the complete history of Street Fighter. Now, that's assuming you have throw-away money. The truth is, Fighting Street is a dreadful fighting game, the special moves are incredibly difficult to pull off and this game proves that there's no easy way of turning a six-button control scheme into a two button affair. On the other hand you have nice graphics to look at and the music is straight out of the arcade. I would definitely recommend this game to fans of the franchise who have the money to spend, but everybody looking for a solid fighting game should probably look elsewhere.


Star Trek: The 25th Anniversary (NES)
Why Now?
Forget Star Wars, lately everybody has been going crazy for Star Trek. J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias) managed to do the impossible, he made everybody into a Trekkie. It used to be that Star Trek fans would have to hide their love in shame, keeping all of their gadgets and plastic toys in a dark room away from everybody in their lives. But not these days. Now that the movie has made close to a hundred million dollars and everybody looking forward to another movie (and a possible TV series), you might think that Nintendo would upload one of the many Star Trek games. But you would be wrong. Instead they uploaded Galaxy Force II. Even the Xbox Live Arcade has a Star Trek game ready for this week. This is yet another example of Nintendo being tragically behind. As the title says, timing is everything and Nintendo may not have another chance like this.

Would It Be Worth Buying?

You should consider yourselves lucky that Nintendo didn't do the obvious thing and upload this no-good, very bad, awful action game. For starters, the game is nothing but text. I swear that the first hour of the game was just me reading crummy dialog from Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu and the rest of the well-known cast. And then when I finally beam down to a planet, I'm forced to put up with terrible computer AI, unfair enemies and a story that makes no sense whatsoever. It's all very illogical. The sad fact is that no matter which console Star Trek game you buy, you're still going to have to put up with way too much text and non-responsive controls. The best Star Trek games have been on the PC, and looking at the upcoming Star Trek: D-A-C, it looks like it's going to stay that way for some time to come.


Bionic Commando (NES)
Why Now?
I shouldn't even have to explain this; Nintendo would be foolish not to upload the original 8-bit Bionic Commando to the Virtual Console. Not only did Capcom's stunning remake, Bionic Commando Rearmed, sell millions of units on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, but the company has a brand new 3D Bionic Commando sequel blowing up the competition later this spring. There is no better time than right now to give the people what they want, 8-bit Bionic Commando. From what I understand Capcom approached Nintendo about releasing this version at the same time as the polygonal remake, however Big N declined. Hopefully they'll reconsider and release one of the best NES games of all time on their Wii service.

Would It Be Worth Buying?
While the original Bionic Commando is one of the greatest (and hardest) action games ever made, the recently released remake (<a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=courant-229" target="_blank"<b>Bionic Command Rearmed</b></a>) is better in every way possible. Not only does it look and play better than the twenty year old original, but it also allows you to get hit more than once or twice. There is nothing worse than one-hit kills, and Bionic Commando was the king of them. Half the challenge of the game was remembering to dodge random bullets that come from off screen. While that may sound like fun for some people, I personally prefer it when games actually give me a chance. Having said that, this 8-bit version is still worth picking up, even if it is mind-numbingly difficulty.

DJ Boy (Genesis)
Why Now?

Guitar Hero? Rock Band? Whatever, those games are so 2008. The new hotness seems to be DJ-inspired video games. At present, three different companies are slaving away at DJ-related music games. But it's not just for drug-addled ravers anymore. And that's why this is a perfect time to release DJ Boy, the funky roller skate version of Double Dragon. You heard me, it's a 2D brawler about roller skaters. And the Japanese version is kind of racist. But never mind that (or the fact that this has nothing to do with actually being a DJ), because DJ Boy is essential playing for anybody that wants to feel hip and with-it. With so many DJ games coming out, Nintendo would be crazy not to upload this forgotten brawler.

Would It Be Worth Buying?

No. DJ Boy is a dreadful game that has a checkered past. Even if you can get past the outright racism of the Japanese version, you're still left with a generic 2D brawler on roller skates. Yes, roller skates. That's not to say that the roller skates had anything to do with the geek factor of DJ Boy, but they certainly didn't help. There are already plenty of 2D brawlers on the Virtual Console, so the only reason to upload this would be to trick people into thinking that it's about DJs. But it's not, and that's why you should do whatever it takes to avoid DJ Boy.


Friday the 13th (Commodore 64)
Why Now?
Are you kidding me? 2009 is the official year of Friday the 13th. Not only was the recent Friday the 13th "remake" a huge hit at the box office, but the Friday the 13th date shows up not once, not twice, but rather THREE different times this year. Can you think of a better time to release a Friday the 13th game? And not just any Friday the 13th game, but the one for the Commodore 64. Not only does it make a lot of sense from an external, but it also makes sense because Nintendo just recently started to post C64 games and are in desperate need to add content for this aging computer. And while Friday the 13th isn't the greatest game of all time, it does have the distinction of being <a href="http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=ivegotyournumber-13" target="_blank"><b>one of the first survival horror games</a></b>. So let's do the math: There are three occurrences of Friday the 13th this year, the new Friday the 13th movie made bucket loads of money at the box office, Nintendo needs to post more Commodore 64 games and it's one of the first survival horror games. How is this game not already on the Virtual Console?

Would It Be Worth Buying?
Okay, so Friday the 13th isn't the greatest game of all time. Fine, I'll concede that point. But it's light years ahead of the tragically awfully NES game of the same name. Let's face it, the name "Friday the 13th" isn't synonymous with "quality." But that hasn't stopped Nintendo from uploading some of the worst games ever made to the Virtual Console (Spelunker, anybody?). I'm not saying that I would buy this C64 version of Friday the 13th, but it does make a lot of sense to release it.


Commando (NES)
Why Now?
Much like Bionic Commando, there's renewed interest in this franchise thanks to Capcom's recently released Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network game. Unlike Bionic Commando, this isn't a remake. So whatever weird bugaboo Nintendo had about releasing Bionic Commando alongside Bionic Commando Rearmed, it certainly doesn't apply here. Releasing the first game in the series only makes sense, especially when it's made by a company that is so supportive of the Virtual Console. But Nintendo didn't release it. Instead they re-released (and renamed) MERCS, but not the first game? What is Nintendo waiting for? With the release of Wolf of the Battlefield 2 and 3, there will never e a better time to release the first game.

Would It Be Worth Buying?
My rule of thumb is this - if you're going to reintroduce a long-dead game franchise to a new generation of fans, then you should give these gamers a chance to catch up with the older releases. Usually this means putting the classic games on the same disc, but seeing as Wolf of the Battlefield 3 was a download-only title, I'm more than willing to give Capcom the benefit of the doubt. That's why it's so frustrating that Nintendo didn't upload Commando. While this is hardly Capcom's greatest action franchise, it's certainly worth playing through. And now that so many new gamers are being introduced to the franchise, why not release all three games so that we can see the story from start to finish? Sure the gameplay is a little rough and the graphics are nothing to write home about, but it's still a fun game. Plus, re-releasing it will give Capcom the chance to finish rebranding the entire series. So bring on Commando - Wolf of the Battlefield, if for no other reason than to make me happy.


Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (NES)
Why Now?
We end right where we started, at Street Fighter. Obviously Street Fighter is hot, why else would I have the balls to talk about it twice in one article? And if you're even contemplating uploading Fighting Street, then you better also consider Street Fighter 2010. With all of the Street Fighter loving, why not cash in on the franchise's success? Usually I would end this article by saying that if Capcom doesn't release Street Fighter 2010 immediately they are going to miss their opportunity, but I can't with this title. Even if Nintendo decides not to upload this bizarre action game to their Virtual Console, they still have all of 2010 to get it up there. And let's face it, 2010 is an even more relevant time to upload Street Fighter 2010. If they don't upload it next year then they are fools. Each and every one of them - fools.

Would It Be Worth Buying?

Like Fighting Street on the TurboGrafx-CD, Street Fighter 2010 was released at a time before anybody knew the how popular this franchise would turn out to be. As a result this 2D action game for the NES ends up misusing the name and ultimately comes up short. Those expecting to learn a thing or two about the Street Fighter mythos will surely be disappointed by this disjointed mess of a game. In a tricky move that fooled nobody, Capcom actually changed the name of the main character from Kevin to Ken in order to try and connect this with the mediocre arcade game. But it didn't work, because instead of being a fun one-on-one fighting game, Street Fighter 2010 felt more like a washed-up Mega Man clone. With no real Street Fighter connection and crummy controls, there's really no reason you would want to play this 8-bit title. On the other hand, this isn't one of those games you see included in the Street Fighter collections, so why not give gamers a chance to try it out for themselves? I say upload it, but definitely don't buy it!


* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.
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