Last week, I picked up Retro Game Challenge for the DS during the sale at Best Buy. Since then, I've been plying it almost nonstop. I realize this is kind of an older title now, but I want to talk about it for a bit anyway. Quite simply, this game is my childhood: crystallized, crushed, and converted to a fine powder. The parallels are many and varied... Your player character has sporadic access to game review/hint magazines (I wasn't allowed to subscribe to Nintendo Power, so getting an old copy from a friend occasionally was the best I could do). Though the game received an excellent translation, the games and their manuals are slightly mistranslated, leading to some quotes that rival the famous "A winner is you!" Everything from writing codes down on a piece of notebook paper to holding the manual open in your lap is represented through clever use of the dual-screen setup. Occasionally, your friend (who sits next to you and watches you play, much as my brother did) will even chime up with some rumor or another he picked up on the playground. While these occasionally don't work, they do usually have a nugget of truth to them. This game was clearly developed by people who not only grew up at the same time I did, but had the same passion for gaming.
All of that would be worthless if the games themselves weren't any good, but they are... all of them are. The games start off simply, (the first, Cosmic Gate, offers a little more depth than Galaga, but not much) but as you move forward through time, they get progressively more advanced and challenging. Even the genres I don't normally enjoy (racing, shmups) are fast paced, fun and easy to get the hang of. And like the best games of my generation, they all require practice to master.
I hope I've made myself perfectly clear-- Retro Game Challenge is one of the best purchases I've made in the last year. It's a steal at $20, and even if you didn't grow up during this time period, you can probably have fun with the games and learn a little bit about gaming's history. Or an alternate history, anyway. If you don't already have it, I highly recommend tracking down a copy before they disappear. I'm seriously considering importing the sequel, something I've never done before. It's a shame that this wasn't more successful at its initial release, but please take my advice and get it while you can.
Ok, end rant. The game's story is a little silly, but rather like the games it is paying homage to, that doesn't really matter too much. It's loosely based on the Game Center CX Television show, wherein an endearing but unskilled man named Arino does his best to meet certain challenges in retro video games. They're not hard to find on YouTube... here's a bit of one of my favorite episodes, where Arino takes on the wholly evil Ghouls and Ghosts.
Lots and lots of quality blogs today. Be sure to read more than just the Topsauce, there are some great ones in the Articles section of Wordtoid as well.