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Nintendo DS: Retro Game Challenge Review

by: Hollan ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Go back in time and game in the best era ever: the 1980s!

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    Retro Game Challenge is not a compilation of retro games, like Namco Museum. It is a compilation of retro style games that look and play like they were released for the NES back in the mid 1980s. While they were never real games, they are just as good (or better) than some of their 8-bit predecessors.

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    Story

    Yeah, there is one and it is awesome! You turn on your DS to discover Game Master Arino (who is tired of losing at modern games to his friends) hacks into your DS, turns you back into a child and sends you into the 1980's Japan to live with his child self. In order to get back home you must complete a set of challenges his grown up self gives you for each game.

    While the story isn't that deep, it is nostalgic of playing games all day as a kid. Child Arino makes colorful comments as you play. Once you beat the challenges on one game, Child Arino brings home a brand new one. He also brings home GameFan magazine, which you can look through for hints and cheats and upcoming game news. Oh, and his mom even yells at the both of you for playing games too much. Ah, the good old days.

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    Gameplay

    8 games make up the fake retro games of Retro Game Challenge. They are:

    Cosmic Gate: A fixed shooter. Like Galaga, but more forgiving.

    HaggleMan 1, 2 and 3 (released at different times): the platformer of the bunch. Reminiscent of the obscure Japanese game Ninja Jajamaru Kun. HaggleMan 2 has larger levels and tougher enemies while HaggleMan 3 is more like Ninja Gaiden.

    Rally King and Rally King SP: the top down racing game. The SP version is a parody of all the special releases sponsored by silly things back in the 1980's Japan. Rally King SP is sponsored by a noodle company.

    Star Prince: a vast improvement on Cosmic Gate. A shooter in which the ship moves up and down as well as left and right and can change form with special power ups. Similar to Star Soldier.

    Guadia Quest: the long awaited RPG. 3 member party and lots of grinding. Can you say Dragon Quest 2?

    Each game comes with a full color manual you can look through at any time and art on the cartridge!

    In each game Arino gives you four sets of challenges you must complete to make it to the next game. For example, in Cosmic Gate you have to use a warp twice in one of the challenges, and in HaggleMan you have to defeat 3 floors without using your shuriken. After you complete the challenges for a game it will be moved into Freeplay, which means you can play without Little Arino's input (although you can also play the full version of each game in the normal mode too). However, in Freeplay, some of the cheats won't work.

    True to form, Retro Game Challenge's control scheme avoids using the touch screen almost at all. Everything is triggered by buttons and your DS becomes your NES controller of days gone by. While the controls for each game are different, they are very NES. If you are a retro gamer you'll find them intuitive with great response time.

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    Graphics and Sound

    They nailed it. Every game in Retro Game Challenge looks like it came out on the NES (or Famicom) in all their 8-bit glory. While the graphics are obviously nothing spectacular, they were done that way on purpose and it works very well. The colors are bright and sometimes silly, but that's what NES games are like.

    The sound is just like the graphics. It's not the best game music ever, but none of it is so annoying you want to turn the sound off. Each game has distinct musix and some of them are actually really well done (Star Prince and Guadia Quest). They sound like NES games from the 1980s and it is awesome.

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    Fun

    Yes. I had a blast playing Retro Game Challenge, even the games I didn't really care for (Rally King and Rally King SP) were bearable. All of the other games are fun just to play on their own. And each game is a complete game in their own right, considering they are 8-bit and made to look and play like old NES games. Guadia Quest is about 10-15 hours long! While a few of the challenges were, um, challenging, none of them were too frustrating. I'd play it again in a heart beat and I do continue to play the games inculded all on their own.

    Master each game and have fun doing it. Are you up to the challenge?

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    Overall

    This is a great game for those of us who look back and remember the 1980's as the golden age of gaming. Breathlessly flipping through Nintendo Fun Club for a glimpse of The Legend of Zelda or standing in line for the new Super Mario Brothers game; all of the wonderful gaming moments of your childhood have been re-imagined here. Unique, fun and just a little bit quirky, Retro Game Challenge is a love letter (with a sense of humor) to the 8-bit games of the days of yore and all the good times that went along with it.

    Easily, one of the best games of 2009 so far. If you don't have it already, just get it. 8 games for the price of one? Yeah, it's so worth it!