Live all the glory of the Golden Age of video games with Retro Game Challenge. There were tons of arcade games and home consoles everywhere back in the 1980s, and not just the Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari. Your parents might remember the hoopla around classic games like Pong, Space Invaders and Pac-Man.
|RETRO GAME CHALLENGE
XSeed Games for DS
Replay Value: 8.0
Overall Score: 8.0
Pros: Deep old-school living-room game experience. Virtual magazines give you codes. Music adds to the tension.
Cons: Saving doesn’t happen automatically after each completed level. Spelling errors. Could use a few more games.
A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE
Retro Game Challenge isn’t just game playing; it’s a complete experience. Sure, you’ll hear ancient-sounding 8-bit music compositions and see some old-timey graphics. For a moment, you might think “I don’t want to play this; it’s too old.”
But you’re hooked right away. The first thing you see is this guy’s head with a crown, a kingly presence suspended in a green background of 1s and 0s. It’s as if you’re taken inside an old console to see someone living in there.
Game Master Arino bets you can’t finish all the challenges he gives you. You won’t take a challenge like that lying down, will you?
Arino transports you back to a 1980s living room where you have a “new” friend to play against. The graphics here are much better, and Arino as a kid is cool, if a little temperamental. When he loses, he wants to throw the controller down. Weirdly, he also wants you to beat his older Game Master self.
Your first four challenges occur within a game called Cosmic Gate, which is like the old Galaga. Colorful insect aliens move in swirling formation, trying to blast your missile launcher out of existence. The challenges? For example, you’ll be asked to use a special warp mode and then get 200,000 points (which is difficult, but not crazily so).
Just as cool as the game is a virtual magazine called GameFan that you can browse through for tips on powerups. You’ll get codes to enter into the DS, too.
Since this game is all about the classic stuff, you won’t use the touchscreen and stylus much. In Cosmic Gate, use the B button to shoot and the D-pad to move around. (When pausing, press up, up on the D-pad, then AA, then BB for a cool powerup.)
CHALLENGE AFTER CHALLENGE
Robot Ninja Haggle Man is a fast-paced platformer like the earliest Mario games. You even save a princess, just like Mario does in pretty much every Mario game. In Haggle Man, you throw ninja stars and close doors to defeat enemies. Sometimes you have to jump on their heads. Later, play Haggle Man 3, a much more difficult version because the enemies are more powerful and faster, the game design more treacherous.
In Rally King, take the wheel of a fancy racecar. You control it from above, not in a first-person mode. But you do have the ability to drift and even a drift boost option to keep you far ahead of the pack.
Star Prince gives you a spaceship with many powerups. You battle bigger, more complex ships than yours, while moving your ship up and down to avoid being shot.
But the most complex (in a good way) of the bunch is a pretty intense role-playing game called Guadia Quest. Here, your king has a mission for you, if you’re brave enough to take it. You’ll travel many roads and find things like the Light Soul, the Royal Key and the Mirror of Truth. Watch out for the last boss, the horrible Scream from the Darkness.
IT ALL ADDS UP
Taken individually, the games wouldn’t be all that. But put them together with the many challenges, the magazines, the living room and the bickering of the strange Game Master, and you have a DS game that’s varied enough to be a cut or two above many other games available now. Plus, you can play the games all the way through in Free Play mode once you’ve completed the challenges. In Free Play, Cosmic Gate has 64 levels.
The game isn’t flawless, though. If you don’t “save” before shutting down, you might lose your progress. I completed three levels of Cosmic Gate, then shut the game off. I had to start all over again. So make sure to save, which is done after clicking on the “Quit” portion of the onscreen menu. Then there are the spelling glitches in the game, especially the one that uses “shooted” as a verb instead of “shot.” There’s just no excuse for that, even in the 80s.