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This Year in Defunct Games: 2011 Report Card
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 11, 2012   |   Episode 105 (Show Archive)  

   


2011 brought sexy back!
Despite my constant complaints about the Virtual Console on Twitter, a lot of old school classics were released in 2011. Not only did we see some of Square's best games hit both the Virtual Console and PSone Classics store, but we also received some unexpected surprises from SNK and Hudson. Throw in a few import titles from Monkey Paw Games, a couple King of Fighters games and the launch of the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, and it's clear that 2011 was a pretty good year for old school gamers.

But the question remains: How did these downloadable services stack up in 2011? Last year we had a lot of fun grading all of the retro platforms, so we decided to do the same thing again. Sure it's not very original, but that shouldn't keep us from having a great time looking at the Virtual Console (both Wii and 3DS versions), PSone Classics store, PlayStation 2 PSN store, Neo Geo Station, TurboDuo PSN store and SNK Minis. Find out how your favorite retro service stacks up in This Year in Defunct Games: 2011 Report Card!

Virtual Console (Wii)

The one place Mega Man wasn't cancelled? The Wii Virtual Console!
Best of 2011: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, Faxanadu, The Ignition Factor, Ghosts 'N Goblins, Black Tiger, Super Bonk and Super Adventure Island II.

Worst of 2011: Bomberman Hero, Natsume Championship Wrestling, Rival Turf, Brawl Brothers, Mega Man 5 and the fact that The Ignition Factor will likely be the Wii Virtual Console's last game.

2010 Rating: Even though the Virtual Console only offered 32 games in 2010, the selected titles were top notch. I ultimately gave the dying service a B rating.

Looking Back: 2011 was the year where I went from being disillusioned with the Virtual Console to throwing my hands up in the air and giving up completely. There were 17 games released over the course of twelve months. That's barely a game a month. That's down significantly from 2010, which was already down from earlier years. The worst news is that August marked the last Virtual Console release, suggesting that The Ignition Factor would be the final old school console game released on the Wii's download service.

The year started off promising, with Capcom announcing a bunch of must-have arcade games. In January we got two shooters (Exed Exes and 1942) and a couple of platformer action games (Ghosts 'N Goblins and Black Tiger). That was followed up with Faxanadu in February and Bomberman Hero in March. Over the next five months

The Virtual Console ended with the wrong Super NES firefighting game!
Nintendo uploaded 2D brawlers, horizontal shooters, a pair of Adventure Island games and two of Square's very best 16-bit role-playing games. The only
thing keeping the Virtual Console from failing is the relatively strong line-up of games in its final year.

Last year I lamented that only 32 games were uploaded to the Virtual Console. At 17, 2011's output was almost half of 2010. Now compare that to the 67 games we saw in 2009 and the 85 in 2008. If the trend holds up we'll only see eight games released on the Virtual Console in 2012. At this point that seems incredibly optimistic.

Looking Forward: Even if Nintendo hasn't come out and said it publicly, the writing is on the wall. I hate to break it to you Wii owners, but your Virtual Console is dead. There is no indication that Nintendo has any interest in uploading more games to this download service, which is a real show for anybody waiting for Earthbound, Uniracers, Star Fox, WindJammers and countless other games for the Neo Geo, Commodore 64, TurboDuo, Genesis and Nintendo 64. The future of the Virtual Console is on the Nintendo 3DS, which has certainly picked up the weight since the first game was uploaded in May. Like the GameCube, Nintendo 64, Virtual Console and Wii, Nintendo proves once again that they don't know how to successfully end the life of a game console ... even when it's a "virtual" console.

Virtual Console (Nintendo 3DS)

Somebody is in the spirit of the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console!
Best of 2011: Donkey Kong, Catrap, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Gargoyle's Quest, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, Tetris, Blaster Master: Enemy Below, Bionic Commando and Avenging Spirit.

Worst of 2011: Baseball, Side Pockets, Tennis, Golf, Pac-Man, Radar Mission, Alleyway and Fortified Zone.

Looking Back: Although it has only been around for a few months, Nintendo has made good with their 3DS Virtual Console. In half a year they were able to upload a whopping 27 titles, ten more than the Wii Virtual Console was able to do in twelve months. While not all of these releases are worth the three to six dollars Nintendo is asking, there's a large enough variety to consider this download service a success in 2011.

When it comes down to the software, Nintendo really came out swinging. We got must-have Game Boy releases like Donkey Kong '94, Super Mario Land 2, Gargoyle's Quest, Tetris, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX and Catrap. Sure there were a few bad sports games here and there, but by and large the schedule was full of high quality titles. Plus, by not focusing all of their attention on the games everybody knows, Nintendo was able to upload a few forgotten gems along the way.

For much of the year these Virtual Console games were the only things I would play on my Nintendo 3DS. That's

Without the 3DS Virtual Console, most gamers wouldn't have had a chance to find out how cool Avenging Spirits is!
not because of the lack of software on the 3DS (though that didn't help any), but rather how well some of these classic games have held up. I'm embarrassed to admit how much time I put into Tetris in the first week, and don't even get me started on my Mario Picross addiction. Games like Gargoyle's Quest and Avenging Spirit prove that the Game Boy was
an amazing platform with some truly spectacular games.

Looking Forward: Hopefully 2012 sees more releases from non-Nintendo handhelds. Sega has already confirmed the first batch of Game Gear releases, though it's been so long that I'm starting to wonder if that will ever happen. Beyond Sega's portable, I would love to see the Atari Lynx, Bandai WonderSwan and the SNK Neo Geo Pocket Color. There's no reason why these games can't make their way to Nintendo's powerful handheld. Best of all, Nintendo still seems committed to releasing games almost every week, which bodes well for the new year. Hopefully Nintendo gets most of the best games out before they inevitably lose interest and we start talking about the Wii U Virtual Console.

PSone Classics/Import Store (PS3/PSP)

I won't miss people asking me when Chrono Cross is coming out!
Best of 2011: Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve 1 & 2, Breath of Fire IV, R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, Threads of Fate, Legend of Mana, Destrega, Dezaemon Kids!, Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Chrono Cross and Vanguard Bandits.

Worst of 2011: Rapid Angel, Re-Loaded, Centipede, Pong, Arcade Hits: Magical Drop, Mega Man IV and a very qualified DarkStalkers.

2010 Rating: The PSone Classics/Import store really proved itself in 2010. With nearly fifty incredible games, I gave the platform an A-, the highest score of the year.

Looking Back: While there were technically fewer PSone Classics released in 2011 versus the year prior, the quality was as high as it's ever been. There were 44 PlayStation games released in 2011, down only slightly from 2010's 48. But that tiny eight percent drop is nothing when you look at strong list of released games. Of all the retro download services we look at on Defunct Games, the PSone Classics store is the only one that truly got it right in 2011.

This was the year when Sony and its third parties delivered all of the PlayStation titles gamers had been demanding for years. We got a bunch of top selling role-playing games (Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story, Xenogears, the Parasite Eve series), big action games (Dino Crisis 2, Kyuii), rare imports (Dezaemon Kids, Cyberbots) and even a few unnecessary Atari updates (Centipede, Pong and Missile Command). Heck, the PSone Classics store even featured the two best Virtual Console games of 2011 (Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI).


I am finally able to post what I assume is Parasite Eve cosplay!
The fact that you can go from an obscure Japanese cooking game in one week to one of Capcom's best 32-bit role-playing games the next is a testament to how great the PSone Classics store was last year. There was a three month period in 2011 where nearly every game uploaded was worth buying, something I cannot say for any other service reviewed in this article. It hit a few bumps along the way, but the PSone Classics store
proves yet again why it is constantly at the front of the class. It will be hard for 2012 to match last year's output.

Looking Forward: The PSone Classics store has a unique problem when compared to the Virtual Console. While Nintendo can easily fall back on the Neo Geo, TurboDuo, Genesis or one of the other nine systems it offers, Sony is limited to just one console. 2011 brought us a lot of the games old school Sony fans had been clamoring for, leaving very little for 2012 and beyond. Thankfully there are still a lot of holes to fill. The fact that Square hasn't released Bushido Blade or Einhander is criminal, and there are so many import PlayStation games that have yet to get picked up by Monkey Paw Games. I hope the next twelve months are up for the challenge of beating 2011.

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