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This Week In Defunct Games
This Week in Defunct Games - October 26, 2012
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 26, 2012   |   Episode 207 (Show Archive)  


Welcome to another exciting episode of This Week in Defunct Games! Every Tuesday join Cyril as he reviews the best (and worst) retro releases for the week. This week we're looking at some very familiar games. Two of the three games have already been reviewed on This Week in Defunct Games. Expect to feel that sense of déjà vu when you read my reviews of Shock Troopers and Ghosts 'N Goblins. And then, just for fun, we take a look at Castlevania: The Adventure, one of Konami's earliest Game Boy games. It's an episode full of scary surprises just in time for Halloween!
Shock Troopers (SNK)
[ Release: October 25 | Price: 900 Points | Console: Neo Geo | Year: 1997 ]
What Is It? Have you ever wondered what Metal Slug would be like if it was played from an overhead perspective? Then let me introduce you to Shock Troopers, SNK's 1997 arcade hit. This eight-way shooter looks and feels a lot like Ikari Warriors and Guerrilla War, only with better graphics and animation. The game offers three unique paths, giving players enough incentive to play through the game multiple times. There's also two-player support, which helps cut down on some of the repetition. Shock Troopers is filled with impressive bosses and enough interesting backgrounds to keep players interested for quite a while. Though the story may be lacking, Shock Troopers has enough charm to attract fans of the Metal Slug franchise.

Does It Still Hold Up? Let me make one thing clear right from the get-go: Shock Troopers is a repetitive action game. It's no different from all games in this franchise (no matter if they're overhead of side-scrolling), shooters from the 1990s were all about running and gunning. Don't expect any puzzle elements or a deep narrative. The controls are solid, though aiming your gun can take a little getting used to. Like the Metal Slug games, Shock Trooper excels when it comes to the impressive presentation. I also like the diverging paths, which requires several play-throughs.

Is It Worth The Money? Shock Troopers may not plow original ground, but it does have enough new ideas to warrant the nine dollar price tag. If you're a fan of Commando, MERCs or Ikari Warriors, then you owe it to yourself to play one of the best examples of the genre. The gameplay may not be very deep, but I have a hunch you'll be blown away by the amount of content found in this tiny download. Shock Troopers is definitely worth picking up if you're into overhead shoot-em-ups.

Castlevania: The Adventure (Konami)
[ Release: October 25 | Price: $3.99 | Console: Game Boy | Year: 1989 ]
What Is It? At first glance, Castlevania: The Adventure looks like any one of Konami's 8-bit action games. It has a whip-wielding hero, candles to destroy, ghouls to kill and vampires to slay. Even after sampling the first stage, you may think that this looks and feels like the great Castlevania games on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Don't be fooled by its familiar trappings, because Castlevania: The Adventure is a terrible game that you should not let in under any circumstance.

You play Christopher Belmont, the great-grandfather of Simon. Chris is on an adventure to kill Dracula and ... well ... isn't that enough? You slowly walk a linear path upgrading your whip and taking out bad guys. If you're not careful, you might actually have a good time working your way towards the demon's lair. And then the game suddenly becomes a brutal test of your platforming prowess. Far too much of Castlevania: The Adventure is bogged down by punishing platforming challenges that add nothing but frustration to the experience. Sometimes these sections are right before a boss. Let's hope you don't die, because you'll need to spend another five minutes trying to force Chris across the same set of tiny platforms. Not fun.

Does It Still Hold Up? Visually, Castlevania: The Adventure looks sharp. While not as nicely detailed as Castlevania II, it has a nice style that lends itself well to the small screen. Unfortunately, it's the sluggish controls and unnecessary platforming challenges that sink this game. Outside of the horrible platforming sections, this Game Boy sequel has some nice level designs that rival the console originals.

Is It Worth The Money? I'm sure there are people out there that would argue that the platforming adds a necessary challenge. It doesn't. It's an artificial way to make the game harder, and it ultimately benefits nobody. On the 3DS, you can quick save along the way. While this makes the game more fun, it also means that you'll beat it in no time. I can certainly see what Konami was trying to accomplish with Castlevania: The Adventure, but it's a frustrating mess that, like Dracula, should be avoided.

Ghosts 'N Goblins (Capcom)
[ Release: October 25 | Price: $4.99 | Console: NES | Year: 1986 ]
What Is It? Think that Castlevania: The Adventure is the only ghoulish game hitting the 3DS this week? Think again, because we're also getting Ghosts 'N Goblins, a port of the classic 1986 Nintendo Entertainment System remake. You play Arthur, a well-armored knight who is on an adventure to save the girl of his dreams from demons. To do this, Arthur will need to battle his way past zombies, ice monsters, flying dragons, a Cyclops and much, much more. Oh, and he'll need to do it twice in order to see the real ending.

Although simplistic when compared to the Super NES and Genesis sequels, Ghost 'N Goblins still offers enough frights to keep things interesting. Each stage has its own look and style, complete with unique enemies to defeat. Some levels are little more than walking from left to right through a graveyard, while other parts of the game are more vertical. By the time the final boss shows up, Arthur will have fought his way through an abandoned village, haunted forest, ice castle and even an underground lair. Who needs to trick 'r treat when there's Ghosts 'N Goblins?

Does It Still Hold Up? The Ghosts 'N Goblins franchise has always had particular controls, especially when it comes to jumping. This is not one of those games where the player has a lot of control over jump movement, so it's easy to steer poor Arthur right into the deadly water. The graphics haven't aged well, but the main game is as fun as ever. That is assuming you can wrestle the control and overcome the game's menacing difficulty. It's worth noting that this 3DS version is slightly easier, if only because of the system's quick save functionality.

Is It Worth The Money? While I'm partial to the 16-bit sequels, there's no denying that Ghosts 'N Goblins remains a great action game. It's also tough and devilishly unfair. On the Nintendo 3DS, you can chip away at the story little by little, making this a much more manageable port. Forget Castlevania and make Ghosts 'N Goblins your portable Halloween game of choice.



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