Defunct Games
This Week In Defunct Games

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 brings us our second Virtual Console game for the Wii U. Is it better than Balloon Fight? Of course it is! Buckle up, because today we're looking at F-Zero (Super NES). And that's not all. Nintendo 3DS owners get Yoshi on the Virtual Console. Is this the best week of 2013 yet? Find out now ...

F-Zero (Nintendo)
[ Release: February 21 | Price: $.30* ($8) | Console: Super NES | Year: 1991 ]
What Is It? Long before wipEout rocked the PlayStation (but chronologically after wipEout rocked 2048), Nintendo delivered this futuristic 16-bit racing game. F-Zero was not only fast, but also the most impressive showpiece for the fledgling Super NES. With fifteen different courses to conquer in nine post-apocalyptic locales, F-Zero offers an impressive amount of content to master.

Forget Pilotwings, F-Zero is all the proof you need that Mode 7 was the real thing. Even by today's standards, the game is perfectly playable and the colorful backgrounds still look pretty good. The game introduced players to multiple brake buttons, something still used in this style of futuristic racer.

There are no weapons to fire, but that doesn't mean you can ride the walls and get first place. Every hit, rub and scrape eats away at the shields. Depleting your shields puts the craft in jeopardy of blowing up, disqualifying you from the competition. The good news is that there's a pit stop. Unfortunately, driving through this section could slow you down and be the one thing that keeps you from first place. Those are the risks you take in F-Zero, one of Nintendo's best racing games.

Does It Still Hold Up? Although F-Zero doesn't feel like a modern racer, it isn't so foreign that it's hard to go back. The various tracks are engaging and the gameplay largely holds up. The graphics and sound are a real treat. It's easy to see the imperfections of the Mode 7 scaling now, but that never broke the illusion for me. In some ways it made it better. This game has a style you rarely see in racers anymore.

Is It Worth The Money? I hate to be a contrarian, but F-Zero has lost me over the years. It feels like each new installment strays a little further away from what I love about this Super NES game. They emphasize speed and quick reflexes over expertly crafted level designs. What I wouldn't give for another F-Zero game exactly like this 16-bit installment. And I don't mean that Game Boy Advance game. I would love Nintendo to go back to the roots of this series and give us a game that honors the memory of F-Zero. Big N may never do that, but at least we can still play this must-own racer.
Yoshi (Nintendo)
[ Release: February 21 | Price: $4.99 | Console: NES | Year: 1992 ]
What Is It? This is a quirky little puzzle game made by Nintendo and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto. Coming out in the "Age of Puzzles," it was lost in the sea of other puzzle titles that desperately followed Tetris, but this is actually one of the better ones. You can't approach this with a Tetris frame of mind. Instead, the ultimate goal is to create eggs, which in turn spawns Yoshi.

To do this, you play some random guy in a red shirt and blue overalls who looks strangely familiar, switching platters to catch falling objects. If you catch those objects between two halves of a Yoshi egg, the entire row will collapse, making much-needed room for more objects to fall. You're constantly switching and rotating the platters to best balance the falling objects and create the most points with the least amount of trouble. In short, it's actually a lot of fun. I highly recommend playing this one with the sound turned off, though. Talk about making the ears bleed ... Yeesh.

Does It Still Hold Up? Other than the audio, the game is still an enjoyable puzzle experience, fairly unique from others on the market. Sure, the addition of Mario and Yoshi may be frivolous, but it's not like Sega didn't do the same thing with Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. What sets a puzzle game off is its ability to make you think differently, and a truly great puzzle game gives you options on how to make the most points, balancing risk with reward. Yoshi does all of these things with great success, which makes it a puzzle game that is definitely worth playing.

Is It Worth The Money? For five bucks, Yoshi is definitely worth it. You might not spend hours a day on this game, but you'll find yourself firing it up from time to time when you want to kill an hour or two and feel like you're exercising your brain. The game lacked any kind of memory back-up, which was still common at the time of its release, so there's no way to save your high scores, but there's still plenty of bragging rights in a well-played game. It lacks flashy graphics and seriously lacks any kind of enjoyable audio, but the game play is dead on and well-paced, going smoothly from easy to challenging. That's enough to make it worth playing again, or discovering for the first time.
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