Spotlight #1: Retro Game Challenge

[Mild Spoilers]

I’m not a Game Center CX fan. The host Arino is a really awkward comedian, and it’s dull watching the guy bumble through some of the games like Ocarina of Time and Mother 2 (which is my favorite game of all time). The best episode I’ve seen is Balloon Fight, and guest Satoru Iwata totally stole the show from Kacho. I think the show’s main appeal is with the sheer love and reverence they treat the games they feature. I’m not old (just turning 22 in a few weeks), so I don’t long much for games from the Famicom era. With that said, this game adaptation of the TV show is amazing.

I think it was Jeremy Parish who said that the Nintendo DS was essentially the last retro console. For all its innovation with touch controls and tiny cartridges, it was also the final hurrah for the classic-style 2D platformers, RPGs, etc. There were a ton of classic hits collections released for the DS. Retro Game Challenge (RGC) is the culmination of all that. It’s the ultimate love letter to 80s kids, to the Nintendo Power era, right down to the limited edition corporate tie-ins. This game is so rich and detailed in its depiction of the Famicom era, making it an essential experience for retro aficionados and nostalgia seekers.

It would’ve been easy to half-ass the actual games you can play on this system. Thankfully, developer indieszero did anything but. Star Prince is a deliciously crunchy space shmup. Haggle Man is tactical action fun with unique mechanics. Rally King is my personal favorite (I go back and forth between this and Star Prince); an arcade racer that you will NOT be able to put down. Centerpiece of the show is Guadia Quest, a full-fledged Dragon Quest clone with less tedious gameplay. That’s secretly been the best thing about RGC; it picked out a lot of the annoyances we associate with early games. You’ll find a polished experience that could make it hard to go back and play the old stuff. This is the final form of the 80s.

Unfortunately, Retro Game Challenge bombed in NTSC regions. If you’re in the US, you’ll probably have a hard time finding this game. Luckily there’s like one copy each at a few Datablitz branches (local version of Gamestop) in Manila, because this is a Catholic country and Jesus loves us (not really). I was also able to snag the sequel, Arino no Chousenjou 2, on a recent trip to Japan. If you’re like me and you can’t read Japanese yet, there’s a fan translation available (kudos). I haven’t gotten to it yet but the reception has been really positive so I’m stoked. You guys, the Nintendo DS was amazing and this is a prime example of what made it great. Retro Game Challenge is the most fun and quirky game, and it’s got a live, beating heart at the center. Nostalgia for daaaays.

 

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