Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Virtual Console Releases - New Years Edition

Welcome once again, my friends, to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend, step inside, step inside. Hope the holiday season went well for you, 'cuz now reality is back to hit you in the face. More specifically, here's Nintendo with their "bad cop" week of Virtual Console releases.

Just so everyone is perfectly clear, I make sure to sit down and spend time playing each week's games before writing my recommendations. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one doing this, if the VC reviews on the main websites are any indication. Of course, there's also nostalgia and long-supressed memories to fall back upon. I just want to make sure that you have the best information available to you, when choosing which retro games are worth your hard-earned money.

All of which is a long way of saying that this week is a complete and total waste. These games aren't ever acceptable for free - paying five dollars for them is practically criminal. Avoid at all costs. Don't you still have all those Christmas games to play through? Don't get greedy!

Baseball - Nintendo for NES - 2/10

There are over a dozen baseball games released on the NES, and pretty much all of them are superior to Nintendo's 1984 Baseball game. So what's the deal, here?

I don't think this was a bad game when it was new. Compared to the sports games on Atari 2600 and Intellivision and Colecovision, this was pretty good. The baseball players look fairly detailed, some nice poses. The umpires appear to make calls, which was still a new novelty. And to the game's credit, the pitcher/batter battles are somewhat competent.

Here's where everything goes sour. I don't think you can control your fielders. If you can, I could never figure it out. They're moving on their own. And they waddle. Very. Slowly. Knock the ball into the outfield, and you can sleepwalk to second or third base before the fielders even reach the ball. Huh?

I thought Japan was really into baseball? What gives? The only group of losers in existence who've never seen a baseball game, and they're working at Nintendo.

Oh, and the animation is non-existent, closer to the Game & Watch style of jilted still poses. Again, very very slow. The audio is limited to one cheap melody that plays during home runs, and that Atari 2600 white noise that passes for a crowd.

This is clearly among the very worst NES games. I'd say it's a hair better than Tennis and Soccer, if just because of the batting. That was the only moment of grace; the rest of this game is stuck somewhere in the sixth circle of hell.

Urban Champion - Nintendo for NES - 3/10

Here's a perfect example to see if the writers have actually played any of these classic games. Check their write-up on Urban Champion, and observe if the game itself is ever addressed, or if it's merely a nostalgic spin on the later fighting genre. Well, Street Fighter, that was a popular game. Here's a fighting game from many years earlier. It must be good. Right?

Please. Spare me. The first time I played Urban Champion was in the dorms at St. Scholastica fifteen years ago. I was convinced that it was the worst NES game ever made and never touched it again. Until now, when getting ready to write about it for the VC release.

I don't think this is the worst NES game ever made. Which is to really say that I've since then discovered many games that were inexplicably worse. Urban Champion still sucks. It really sucks when you discover that all you have to do is just start bashing our stomach punches and pushing forward. Even worse when you discover that there really is no level progression, only one faceless goon after another, except the later ones learn how to block.

Urban Champion was a pointless, boring game then, and it's even more pointless and boring today. It does have atmosphere - I'll give it that - but what good does that do when the game itself runs for thirty seconds? The emergence of Street Fighter 2 has nothing to do with this turkey, and anyone who tries to make a claim for some "lost classic" is a fool.

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