DS

North America

Retro Game Challenge

by Zachary Miller - March 10, 2010, 2:47 pm PST
Total comments: 11

7

Relive the good, the bad, and the downright awful with this nostalgic collection.

So many gamers today long for the simpler, more hardcore times of the NES. I used to be one of those gamers, and I still find myself longing for the days of yore now and again. Certainly, there’s been a retro revival as of late, what with Dark Void Zero and Mega Man 10 makin’ me all nostalgic. Retro Game Challenge invites you back to the 80’s for a wakeup call. And while you may revel in a few of the retro offerings, I imagine you’ll walk away happy that the industry has since moved in a different direction.

You, playing the role of the gamer, are given challenges by a giant crown-wearing head named Arino, who looks like a cross between Jobe from “The Lawnmower Man” and the Doctor Kawashima in “Brain Age.” Arino sends you back in time to the early 80’s to relive his gaming memories and complete challenges he sets out for you: four in each game. Between challenges, you’ll listen to Arino’s younger self talk endlessly. You’ll also be able to read instruction manuals for the games and certain issues of the fictional “Game Fan” magazine. There are eight separate games, which I’ll briefly describe below:

1) Cosmic Gate: This is essentially Galaga with some twists, like the ability to create warp gates and zip ahead several stages. It is very fun, and there’s some modicum of strategy to the bug-blasting.

2) Robot Ninja Haggle Man: A bizarre cross between Bubble Bobble and Boomer’s Adventure in ASMIK World, your character flips hidden doors to defeat enemies and uncover power-ups. The game is short and can be frustrating, but the concept is solid, and the character sprites are quirky.

3) Star Prince: The sequel to Cosmic Gate, this game is clearly based on Xevious, Solar Striker, and other top-down bullet-hell shooters of the day. It is insanely fun and full of strategy.

4) Rally King: Essentially a Micro Machines top-down racer with power sliding. I really hated this game, as drifting is unreliable and the track designs are full of cheap spin-out areas.

5) Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2: The same as the first game, but harder. The levels are larger, and Haggle Man can activate power-ups at his leisure now instead of upon collecting them.

6) Rally King SP: This lazy double-dip is Rally King with more difficult course designs and color swaps. This game made me curse a lot.

7) Guadia Quest: This is an old-school RPG in the tradition of Dragon Warrior. It is the longest and most impressive game of the collection. Lots of grinding is required, and random battles are never all that fun, but Guadia Quest makes you work for victory, and there seems to be an actual storyline in the background. If you’re an old-school RPG fan, this is a great game.

8) Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3: Almost completely different from its predecessors, RNHM3 is comparable to Ninja Gaiden and, bizarrely, Metroid. The level design is great, and Haggle Man suddenly has access to lots of new attacks and powers. The bosses are huge and impressive, and the graphics are right up there with the best on the NES.

Arino gives you four challenges per game, though you cannot attempt them in any order, and they do not stack. Once you complete one challenge, you are forced out of the game and must restart it for subsequent challenges. During games you dislike (like Rally King in my case), this is can be torturous, especially when one challenge asks you to, say, successfully pull off two power slides, and the second challenge requires you to beat the first course. These challenges could have been done in one playthrough, showing the game's poor challenge design. Guadia Quest and RNHM3 actually let you save your progress, though, so beating challenges isn’t a chore in those.

Despite the challenges, however, most of the games in the collection, regardless of which ones you find yourself fond of, are all wonderfully done. Each one feels like it could be a real, scrapped NES title, except for the games that act like expansions to other games, like Rally King SP.

Young Arino is likely to become a thorn on the player's side. He’s constantly yelling during gameplay, and between challenges he embarks on stream of consciousness diatribes. I understand what they’re going for here—actual gamer conversation—but there’s too much of it. On the other hand, the fake “Game Fan” magazines are great, offering tips and codes for the games in your collection, previews of upcoming games, and funny articles written by real people in gaming journalism.

The manuals are also helpful in figuring out the finer points of each game. I was stuck in Guadia Quest until I actually read the instruction manual (oh, there are six menu selections, not three). Ironically, it’s Demon Arino (head-dude) who’s not in the game enough. He exists only to give you challenges, and his speeches are short and to-the-point. If only his younger self was so succinct!

The real fun begins once you complete all four challenges in each game (which is never difficult), which opens it up in “freeplay” mode. This is the ideal way to play every game in the collection, where you can experiment with codes and generally move at your own pace. Unfortunately, young Arino is still omnipresent, cheering you on, and incurring your wrath.

If you’re a fan of retro gaming and can manage to wade through the filler, Retro Game Challenge provides ample challenge and enjoyment. Marred somewhat by its execution, though, I cannot recommend the game for everyone. It appeals to a niche audience, but that audience will find it to be very rewarding.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 7 9 6 9 7
Graphics
8

Hard to complain about the graphics in the fake NES games, which look amazingly genuine. Oddly enough, it’s the “umbrella game” that looks bad. Your avatar and his idiot friend look awful, but Demon Arino looks okay.

Sound
7

Rally King is the worst game in the collection in terms of sound. Young Arino's constant and repetitive yells quickly become an annoyance. All of the other retro games sound fine, though. I really like the music in Guadia Quest.

Control
9

Great control overall. The use of the L and R buttons, however, is weird since none of the NES games use the L, R, X, or Y buttons.

Gameplay
6

Varies greatly here. Depending on your genre preference, you will either love or hate a lot of these games. You’ve got your pick of shooters, platformers, racers, an RPG, and an action platformer. Unfortunately, you cannot just pick and choose. You have to play through the bad to get to good. The game’s strict structure hurts it in this category.

Lastability
9

Once you unlock the individual games in freeplay mode, the fun factor skyrockets. Guadia Quest, Star Prince, and RNHM3 will last you the longest and are the most fun games included.

Final
7

Some truly lackluster games, young Arino’s babbling, and the botched overarching structure of Retro Game Challenge lower this game's overall value. However, if you can rush through the bad, this collection has some retro fun to be had.

Summary

Pros
  • Each game feels genuine
  • In-game magazines are fun to read and offer tips 'n' tricks for each game
  • Star Prince, Guadia Quest, and RNHM3 are the best
Cons
  • Challenges are doled out poorly
  • Rally King SP and, to a lesser extent, RNHM2 are the worst
  • Young Arino is the bane of my existence
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusMarch 11, 2010

Great review, I think I will no longer feel that pang of regret every time I see this game on a store shelf knowing I have yet to buy it.

The thing about this game that always stopped me from getting it is that if I wanted to play Dragon Quest one (or two) I have them. If I were to feel the need to play Metroid, I have every metroid readily available. You get my point. The remakes never looked to be big improvements over their counterparts so I never made the purchase.

I think it's important to clarify that these are not remakes in any way. They are new games in an old style, like Mega Man 9/10. And like the new Mega Man games, they have little touches here and there that you would never see in the 80s. I don't mean anything technological, but in terms of design.

I really like most of the games in RGC, but what really sells the package is how they all fit together and how they are presented. Seeing fake cartridges, reading fake magazines, entering cheat codes, these are all great touches. I even like the concept of the kids' exclamations on the bottom screen -- if only they were less repetitive and more appropriate to what happened in the games.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusMarch 11, 2010

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I think it's important to clarify that these are not remakes in any way. They are new games in an old style, like Mega Man 9/10. And like the new Mega Man games, they have little touches here and there that you would never see in the 80s. I don't mean anything technological, but in terms of design.

I really like most of the games in RGC, but what really sells the package is how they all fit together and how they are presented. Seeing fake cartridges, reading fake magazines, entering cheat codes, these are all great touches. I even like the concept of the kids' exclamations on the bottom screen -- if only they were less repetitive and more appropriate to what happened in the games.

Zach didn't really make it sound as if there were too many improvements on these games aside from adding warp gates to Galaga. I am curious, how has Guadia Quest been improved over the Dragon Quest games that appeared on the NES?

The fights are quicker, and you level up much faster. The whole game is compressed so you can beat it in about ten hours. (The in-game challenges take far less to complete, though.) It also has several in-jokes regarding RPG cliches and 80s-style localization errors.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusMarch 11, 2010

The in jokes sound like they would interest me, but since I recall playing through the first dragon quest in about that time on the gbc the time difference really isn't an incentive to me. I have five DS games I need to finish at the moment, I will have to let the nagging feeling that arises whenever I see this game continue.

Zach, or whoever played, about how long does it take to push through the challenges to unlock the full games? I would be playing this just to unlock Guadia Quest.... you know this sounds like something that would get me to buy a DSi/XL, if they were to port these games in chunks to the DSiWare. That could be a great way to get us Retro Game Challenge 2.

StratosMarch 11, 2010

I love this game. I wish the sequel would/could come out here.

Greybrick, Guadia Quest is the 2nd-to-last game you unlock. None of the challenges are particularly difficult, but some are just tedious. With games like Rally King/SP and the first two Haggle Man games, being taken out of the game every time you complete a challenge added to my frustration. I mean, it seriously doesn't take that long, it's just annoying.

Guadia Quest is fun, though.

vuduMarch 11, 2010

Quote from: Stratos

I love this game. I wish the sequel would/could come out here.

I love the idea of this game.  Unfortunately, I didn't love the actual product.

I desperately wish the sequel would/could come out here because from what I've read it improves upon this game in just about every way possible.

yoshi1001March 12, 2010

They probably should have gone the Layton route and combined elements from the two games. Still, one of my favorite games from last year.

I actually like the first two Hagglemen. You don't have to play them all that much to unlock the next game, either. Rally King is definitely the worst game of the bunch, and having to play challenges from it twice is definitely tedious.

StratosMarch 12, 2010

I didn't mind playing Rally King. I actually enjoyed it for the most part. Getting booted out of games was frustrating at times but usually that was most irritating when you were already close to fulfilling the second requirement through actually playing the game and then you complete the first one and all your progress is reset.

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GameCenter CX: Arino's Challenge Box Art

Genre Simulation
Developer Namco Bandai
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Retro Game Challenge
Release Feb 10, 2009
PublisherXseed Games
jpn: GameCenter CX: Arino's Challenge
Release Nov 15, 2007
PublisherNamco Bandai

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