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This Week In Defunct Games
This Week in Defunct Games - Dec. 14, 2012
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 14, 2012   |   Episode 213 (Show Archive)  


Welcome to another exciting episode of This Week in Defunct Games! Join Cyril every Friday as he reviews the best (and worst) retro releases for the week. This week Nintendo took to the streets with two new action-packed games featuring martial artists. Up first it's Real Bout Fatal Fury, the impressive follow-up to Fatal Fury 3. Over on the 3DS Virtual Console, Tecmo is slipping us some Ninja Gaiden. As it turns out, we have a thing or two to say about that. Find out which of these games is worth picking up when you read our weekly look at everything Virtual Console!
Real Bout Fatal Fury (SNK)
[ Release: December 13 | Price: 900 Points | Console: Neo Geo | Year: 1995 ]
What Is It? Having already released Fatal Fury, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2, it only makes sense for Nintendo to finally upload the 1995 original. There's just one problem: Now that I've played through not one, but two newer installments, I'm not so keen to take the trip back to Real Bout Fatal Fury.

SNK made some real substantial changes to the mechanics when going from Fatal Fury 3 to Real Bout. For starters, the number of buttons has been reduced, making this a much more accessible fighting game. There's also a brand new power gauge and stages with ring- outs. Of course, you already know all this if you've played Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. Instead of adding a bunch of new characters, SNK opted to go back in time and resurrect a few fan favorites. We get Duck King, Billy Kane and even Kim Kaphwan, all of whom were featured in Fatal Fury Special.

Does It Still Hold Up? The good news is that Real Bout Fatal Fury plays significantly better than regular old vanilla Fatal Fury. However, it's hard to go back after tasting Real Bout Fatal Fury 2. The controls are a little stiff and the fighting isn't as fluid as you would like, but that could be said about most SNK fighting games in 1995. On the other hand, the visuals still hold up and it's always nice to see Geese Howard.

Is It Worth The Money? By releasing these games out of order, Nintendo has shot themselves in the foot. Fatal Fury Real Bout isn't different enough to stand on its own, especially if you already own the 1997 and 1998 updates. The tragedy is that I would have recommended this game a year ago. There's a good fighting game here, one that doesn't get nearly the level of attention it deserves. But with so many other fighting games competing for your attention, there's little reason to spend your money on Real Bout Fatal Fury. This is for collectors only.
Ninja Gaiden (Tecmo)
[ Release: December 13 | Price: $4.99 | Console: NES | Year: 1989 ]
What Is It? While it shares the same name of a popular arcade game, Ninja Gaiden is actually a 2D action title and not a faux-3D brawler. You play Ryu Hayabusa off on an adventure to battle evil and whatnot. He fears his father has been kidnapped by The Jaquio and he's the only person that can stop evil from triggering the end of the world. Y'know, normal ninja stuff.

What really sets this action game apart from all the other ninja games of the era (or action games in general) is the strong narrative running through the six stages. Looking back at the story today it's almost comical (especially the cheesy dialog), but it's unique to have such a strong action game using cinemas to tell what ends up being a rather engaging story.

Even though the action is solid and the story is interesting, it's important that you realize that this is one of the hardest video games ever made. Thanks to the recent release of Ninja Gaiden III on current generation consoles, some unsuspecting gamers may be tempted to see what the original was all about. Know that what you're getting is a punishing game full of frustrating moments. If you can overcome the unfair level of difficulty, you'll discover why Ninja Gaiden is one of the best 8-bit action games of all time.

Does It Still Hold Up? From a gameplay perspective, Ninja Gaiden holds up. The action is fast and the controls feel good. The graphics look sharp on the portable's small screen. Some of the story stuff doesn't quite work now, but it's fun to look back at these early cinemas. The only thing that doesn't work here is the Nintendo 3DS hardware itself. The placement of the D-pad cramps my hand and using the analog stick feels imprecise. Personal ergonomics aside, Ninja Gaiden holds up remarkably well. Just be ready for the painful difficulty.

Is It Worth The Money? Ninja Gaiden is both goofy and infuriating at times, but I can't help but love it. The action is constantly moving and the bosses are genuinely interesting. The quick save functionality on the Nintendo 3DS makes some of the later stages much more manageable. Still, even with the strong narrative and engaging story, I can't help but be disappointed that Nintendo opted for this NES game over the wonderful Ninja Gaiden Shadow.
Ninja Gaiden: The Mini Series (Trailer #1)

Next Week: With only two more weeks left in 2012, Nintendo needs to hurry up and release Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels and Wario Land 3. What are the odds of those coming out for the 3DS Virtual Console in the next two weeks? I say close to 100%. I'm not as confident we'll see Sega's promised Game Gear games in the same timeframe. Bummer. Until then, see you next Friday for another thrilling episode of This Week in Defunct Games!


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