Every Thursday Defunct Games wants to take a moment and reflect on all of the classic games that were given new life. Thanks to video game compilations, Nintendo's Virtual Console, the Xbox Live Arcade and even the PlayStation 3, fans of retro games are able to find all sorts of crazy old games. But what games are good? How well have these games held up? Which ones should you spend your money on? In This Week In Defunct Games we plan on answering those questions in both written and audio podcast form. So without further ado I give you the podcast version of This Week In Defunct Games, followed by our full guide to the best (and worst) classic games of the week.
NOTE: Because we only had two games to talk about this week we decided against featuring a podcast. The This Week In Defunct Games podcast will return next week with recaps of this week's and next week's games. Thank you for your understanding.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire (Virtual Console)
What Is It?
It's the fourth installment of the long-running Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. While these days Koei is best known for its Dynasty Warriors franchise, there once was a time when adult gamers (and people with a lot of patience) would flock to their strategy line in hopes of getting something more out of their gaming experience. Games like Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms offered solid strategy elements on a console, something that you didn't see a lot of on the NES and Super NES. Since its inception the Romance series has spawned nearly a dozen sequels, including this year's Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI for the PlayStation 2. Wall of Fire is a port of the 1994 Super NES game that featured simple graphics. But don't let the 2D sprites fool you, this is an extremely complex game full of depth and intrigue. While action gamers won't like it, if you're looking for something slower and more methodical then you can't go wrong with Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire.
Does It Still Hold Up?
There's no clear cut answer for this one, while it's true that the game still plays great and offers a lot of depth, it's hard to not notice that there have been seven other games in the series since Wall of Fire. That's not to say that all of them are better than this game, but Koei has made a lot of improvements over the years to refine the series. If you haven't checked out the recent PlayStation 2 games then this might be a good place to start (especially since it's only $8), but this is going to feel like a big step backwards for fans of the Romance series. Having said that, it is worth noting that this series has held up a lot better than other console strategy games (especially when compared to games like Populous and SimCity).
Is It Worth The Money?
If you've always been curious about the Romance series but never bought a newer copy then this might be a good place to start. The $8 price tag isn't bad for the amount of game play you'll get here, but chances are you'll be able to find a more recent sequel for only a few dollars more. While the graphics and sound are simple, there's no denying that this game is full of complex menus and commands. This is a hard game to just jump into and without an instruction manual I have to wonder how well newbies will do. This isn't a bad deal, but at this point I would say it's probably not worth the money.
Jetpac Refuelled (Xbox Live Arcade)
What Is It?
Jetpac Refuelled is a remake of the 1983 ZX Spectrum computer game, one of Rare's earliest video games. In the game you take control of a small guy with a jetpack on who must assemble a spaceship and then search around for enough fuel to get the sucker to blast off. While this sounds nice and easy, you will quickly discover that you're going to have to deal with aggressive enemies and all sorts of other obstacles. This Xbox Live Arcade game not only includes the original game, but also a brand new redesign that features brand new enemies, levels and graphics. This version of the game offers over 120 brand new levels, some interesting online play, and enough action to keep you busy for at least a few days. It's fun to compare the new and old versions, and this is one of the few computer games that have made its way to the Xbox Live Arcade. Fans of the original game will get a kick out of this rendition, and those who have never heard of the game before will probably discover something fun and unusual.
Does It Still Hold Up?
I won't kid you, it's hard to go back to the 1983 game, the graphics are so rudimentary that it definitely feels out of place on the next generation Xbox 360. But ignore the graphics; the game play still feels fast and fresh, especially when you consider that there aren't a lot of other games out there like this. That's not to say that this is a flawless game, but this is certainly one game that is easy to get into and fun to play when you're bored and need to waste a few minutes. You probably won't spend much time playing through the old version of the game, so it's nice to see that the brand new remake holds up pretty well and offers a few new options that make this game even better.
Is It Worth The Money?
While it's not the best game on the Xbox Live Arcade, it's cool to see a game that most American gamers haven't had a chance to play. For $5 you get both the original version as well as a brand new edition that features more than a 120 new levels. At that price it's hard to be too critical of a game like this, but some may argue that the gameplay is short lived and that it's not as instantly addictive as other $5 games (Geometry Wars, Pac-Man, etc.). Another thing that is cool is that for your 400 Microsoft Points you get a history lesson about Jetpac and the people that made it. It's nothing special, but I certainly wish that more developers would spend the time to put some of these classic games in context. After offering classics like Worms, Alien Hominid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Jetpac Refuelled may feel like a bit of a disappointment, but it's definitely one of the best classic game remakes I have ever seen.