Game Review: Retro Game Challenge (Nintendo DS)
Do you remember the salad days of 8-bit gaming? Feeling the need to indulge in a nostalgic trip back to the era of cheat-codes and print magazines? Or maybe you just have a craving for Japanese game shows that don’t air on G4…
Retro Game Challenge aims to please all these audiences, but does it score a bullseye… or miss the mark entirely?
RGC is loosely based on a Japanese television program where ordinary people are given challenges in old video game titles, for cash and prizes. So I’ve heard… I’m not a big fan of Japanese TV.
The premise of the game is this: a vindictive frustrated gamer with a lot of power (and apparently free time) sends you back to the 1980’s as a child. In order to return to present day, you must defeat every vintage game challenge he throws at you.
Got it? Good.
Things start out easy with a simple ‘reach level X’ in a Galaga clone, but soon become more difficult but never quite frustrating. Imagine Achievements or Trophies for doing unusual actions in a game, and you get the idea.
The game boasts 8 different games, but most are sequels to each other. There are 2 space shooters, 3 platformers, 2 racing games, and a 10 hour RPG.
The games aren’t hard, the challenges are… well… challenging. You get plenty of tips, hints, and even cheats, through a ‘magazine’ that is periodically delivered to your door. The magazine is loaded with references to ’80’s and ’90’s EGM staff, and from what I understand, someone on the U.S. localization team has ties to EGM. Personally? It was amusing, but I wouldn’t buy a game just to see someone reference John Davison by having a character named ‘Johnny English’. It seems that a lot of the mainstream gaming press is falling all over themselves to praise this game, and I suspect it has a lot to do with the EGM references.
Potential Game Developer Tip: If you want good reviews, insert plenty of references to well known game journalists in your game.
That being said, there’s nothing here that’s impossible, or terribly frustrating. The frustrating part comes from being forced to play an otherwise decent game JUST TO ACHIEVE A SPECIFIC TASK.
Maybe I just want to play ‘Star Prince’ without trying to accomplish some whacky chore. I can’t do that until I’ve completed all four challenges on a game to unlock a freeplay mode. And then there are the interruptions; if you meet a goal, the game stops. It just kicks you back to the ‘story’, not letting you finish the game you were playing.
I’m not really motivated or entertained by the story, and I just found I wanted to play the ‘retro’ games… then I realized that between all my current consoles, I had the original (better) retro games at my disposal. No interruptions, no clicking through nonsensical dialog, and no creepy Japanese floating-head-gameshow-host.
If I want to play Galaxian or Galaga… I’ll play them.
If I want to play a Mario game… I’ll play one.
If I want to play old school Final Fantasy… guess what I’m going to do?
I can’t say that Retro Game Challenge is a title to completely miss, but I have a hard time justifying a purchase when there are more effective ways to get a nostalgia fix, and the remainder of the game is only amusing for a few minutes… unless you’re a former EGM employee.
Intrigued enough to pick it up anyway?