This year, we have seen the curiosity with retro gaming grow among the mainstream gaming audience and it seems that game publishers are clueing into the fact. While it is unfortunate that publishers seem to focus most of their retro efforts at the handheld market, there were also a handful of excellent console compilations to keep us happy.
Capcom Classics Collection – PS2/XB
This killer compilation included all sorts of good stuff — 22 games in all, including Street Fighter 2, 1942, Final Fight, Ghosts ‘N Goblins, and Commando . It’s just a shame that the Gamecube was skipped.
Spanning over 10 years of Capcom history, this anthology contains hundreds of hours of gameplay for either single or two players while experiencing a bountiful of bonus features such as remixed soundtracks and original art.
Gunstar Super Heroes – GBA
Treasure (the same group that brought Astro Boy to the GBA) listened to their fans and released an upgraded pseudo-sequel to their Sega Genesis classic. This GBA gem features all the fast-paced action we would come to expect from Treasure and pushed the limits of the GBA to bring some fabulous 2D eye candy.
This new installment expands on the original with all-new levels, bosses, and weapons. I have enjoyed it a bunch and I’ve heard nothing but praise from everyone else I’ve talked to.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow – DS
Castlevania fans have been drooling over this since I posted early page scans from EGM. Dawn of Sorrow did not disappoint as it is the best Castlevania since Symphony of the Night.
Dawn’s ghoul-slaying, soul-stealing exploration is easily the single deepest and most refined example of classic gameplay to be found on the latest wave of handheld systems.”
Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time – DS
Those crazy plumbers are back in this fan-favorite hybrid action RPG. Filled with a bundle of Nintendo inside-jokes and just plain good gameplay, this entry keeps the Mario and Luigi series going strong. It takes the formula that the original GBA game started and added full dual screen action and touch screen support.
If you are either a Nintendo geek or an RPG fan looking for something a little more laid-back and fun, Partners in Time deserves your look.
Lumines – PSP
Although it was overshadowed by the hyped 3D games on Sony’s shiny handheld, Lumines is still arguably the best title on the PSP. Not since the original Gameboy Tetris has there been so much buzz over a puzzle game. It’s a shame I don’t have a PSP since I’ve been seeing multiple copies of Lumines at my local Target for $10 on the Clearance shelf.
Meteos – DS
While it did not get all the praise the Lumines did, Meteos gives DS owners another high-quality puzzle experience. The developers did their best to think creatively while designing this new and unique title.
Meteos utilizes both of the dual screens and stylus to bring brick-flinging puzzle gameplay that has never been previously available.
Advance Wars Dual Strike – DS
Advance Wars on the GBA brought 2D strategy games, pioneered by the likes of the Shining Force series, into a more inviting world for casual gamers.
After two fun-filled installments on the Gameboy Advance, Advance Wars has come to Nintendo’s dual-screen wonder in order to boost the image quality and make managing your attacks more productive.
Dr. Mario/Puzzle League – GBA
This tiny cartridge had been the object of my wife’s addiction for the past two weeks since it’s release. But I can’t blame her, since these two great puzzlers offer a fresh breath of air to GBA puzzle fans.
IMO, Puzzle League stands out among the two as a mind bended that will challenge you and give you variety from traditional block-dropping puzzlers.
Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves – PS2
Possibly one of the best fighters on both the Neo-Geo and Dreamcast is now available for the mass audiences on the PS2. SNK took a breather from their King of Fighters kick in order to create a highly polished sequel to the Fatal Fury franchise.
Taking place years after the previous installments, it includes a fresh cast of unique fighters and introduces Rock Howard.
No 2D Fighter fan should go without playing this one.
BTW, I’m cheating a bit on this one — MOTW hasn’t been released yet on the PS2 in the USA. It’s Japan only at the moment. But it is worth importing if you can’t play it another wayl
Namco Museum Battle Collection – PSP
Battle Collection faithfully recreates the 17 classic games it includes, and also offers plenty of options to tailor the game to meet individual needs.
And many of the games allow you to play co-op or head-to-head in Ad Hoc wireless play. At the PSP’s default resolution, the game captures nicely the crispness of the original CRTs, it easily beats the old GBA Museum collection.
Full Review of Namco Battle Collection
Sonic Rush – DS
Some say Rush is the best Sonic ever. But I’m still unconvinced that it tops Sonic 2, 3, or CD. Nevertheless, Sonic Rush utilizes the DS’s power and both screens to bring Sonic up to full speed and fun — more than the Sonic Advance titles.
Not only is the game very polished and extremely fun to play, but it doesn’t abuse the DS by needlessly trying to take advantage of the touch-screen.
Sonic Gems – GC
While the Sonic Mega Collection (available for PS2, GC, and XB) was a wonderful compilation, it lacked a handful of old-school Sonic games that were either fan favorites or rarities.
Sonic Gems fills in most of those gaps with Sonic CD, Sonic R, and Sonic The Fighters (which is its first appearance on a console). I love this compilation, but it could have scored higher if it included Knuckles Chaotix from the 32X.
Puyo Pop Fever – PSP
As one of my Top 20 Games that Nobody Played, I can’t go without mentioning Puyo Pop Fever. Fever and Lumines are actually the only 2 games right now that make me envious of the PSP.
Even though I own Fever for both the Dreamcast and Gamecube, I can’t help but notice how beautiful those little Puyos look on the PSP’s glossy widescreen.
Nanostray – DS
The Nintendo DS is a prime candidate to host horizontal 2D shooters, so Nanostray breezed in to become a low-profile hit for shooter fans.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t use both screens for gameplay, but Nanostray more than holds its own with elaborately designed enemy ships, detailed backgrounds and hails of bullets.
Metal Slug 4 & 5 – PS2, XBox
After Sony originally told SNK it’s old 2D games weren’t up to their image quality standards, they have finally let them release a great collection of 2D fighter in addition to the remaining pieces of the Metal Slug series.
Metal Slug 5 is the obviously superior version, but I’m glad that SNK continued putting more than one of these cult classics in a package.
Final Fantasy IV – GBA
The long-awaited remake of one of the best Final Fantasy games is finally here. This classic adventure includes 18 towns and
castles dozens of magical spells and hundreds of monsters weapons and items to help players on their quests.
It greatly improved on the FF titles before it and this GBA ports has raised the stakes and includes lots of extra.
Fire Emblem The Sacred Stones – GBA
For the die-hard strategy fans that need something with more of a challenge and fantasy setting than Advance Wars, Fire Emblem brings the goods. Following up on the original Fire Emblem for the GBA, Sacred Stones raises the stakes to bring hours of hardcore strategy on the go.
Also worth mentioning is the Gamecube version of Fire Emblem which stays true to its roots (as opposed to Battalion Wars straying from Advance Wars).
Riviera: The Promised Land – GBA
Riviera is one of the hot RPGs for the GBA, yet remained missing or unnoticed on store shelves.
This project from Bandai’s is fantasy RPG ported over from WonderSwan Color that has been upgraded significantly to bring some beautiful 2D artwork and sprites while maintaining most of the content from the original Japanese release.
Taito Legends – PS2, XBox, PC
Here’s another great retro compilation that was left out of the Gamecube library (poor Cube). Taito Legends collects 36 classic arcade titles (including Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Bubble Bobble, Operation – Wolf, and Rainbow Islands), from a company that dominated in the 80s and early 90s.
These are actually arcade-authentic ports, not ports from older consoles. In addition to the games, the compilation includes a wealth of extra features.
Midway Arcade Classics 3 – PS2/XB/GC
Growing up, there were two types of games I would head to as soon as I entered an Arcade — Beat-em-ups and Racing. While current consoles (mostly the PS2) are thankfully seeing a steady flow of 2D fighters, arcade racers haven’t been getting the same love.
Fortunately, this year Midway’s Volume 3 brings many of the great arcade racers to the current-gen consoles.
Ports of the SF Rush and “Thunder” series, Off-Road, and a handful of others round out a great themed compilation.
Retro Games I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2006
- Gunstar Heroes Treasure Box (PS2) – Treasure Box is a selection of games from Treasure, originally published by SEGA on the Genesis/Megadrive which includes Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy and Alien Soldier. I just hope they also make a Treasure Box Vol 2 — there are so many great Treasure games of old. (read more)
- Panzer Dragoon (PS2) – This classic from the Sega Saturn will finally get a port to the PS2. It will feature a very slight graphical upgrade, which I think is appropriate for this title. Finally, Sega is learning that it shouldn’t mess too much with it’s classic title re-issues. (read more)
- Final Fantasy III (DS)/Final Fantasy V (GBA) – Hot on the heels of Final Fantasy IV’s GBA appearance, FFIII will get a 3D DS remake and V will get a 2D GBA makeover similar to IV’s (read more)
- Mega Man X Collection (GC) – Coming out in January, this compilation is the perfect follow-up to the original Megaman Collection (read more)
- Revolution Downloads! – Forget all those Nex-Gen games — I want the Revolution for it’s “ultimate backward compatibility”. Having the entire Nintendo catalog (and the rumored Sega library) at my fingertips inside a sleek, new console is this RetroGamer’s dream –even if I have to pay a bit for downloads. (read more)