Now this one’s a little strange. Nostalgia is often used, to great effect, to sell video games, but this is a first. Retro Game Challenge, published by XSeed in the US, is a bit different. What looks at first to be a compilation of NES games takes a turn for the surreal when you realise that all these titles are original.
Well, original is perhaps a little strong. The inspirations for these games are usually pretty obvious, when not explicitly stated in the titles (If you can’t tell which classics “Super Robot Haggle Man” takes its cues from, well, good luck to you.). There’s a good variety, with top down shooters and racers, platformers, and even a pretty well fleshed out RPG. Games are unlocked in order of “Release Date”, and you are required to complete various challenges (get 200,000 points, say, or destroy a large asteroid) in order to progress to the next one. Along the way, magazines are also unlocked, with tips and cheats for existing games, and previews of upcoming releases. It seems like something I personally would play for half an hour and then never touch again, but what makes RGC so compulsive is the sheer quality of the games, and that the challenges are never arduous enough that they outstay their welcome.
The localisation of this (very) japanese game is generally excellent. The magazines, which in the original feature characters from Game Center CX, the tv show the game is based on, now have editors of various american game mag editors, which is a nice touch. Whether this will be changed or remain the same for the european release remains to be seen. The only really irritating thing is the voiceover, which really starts to grate. The game is obviously supposed to be set in Japan, so why they couldn’t have left that dub in is beyond me.
The story fits the general all-round craziness of the rest of the game perfectly. Basically, (as explained in a star wars-style intro), Shinya Arino, the host of Game Center CX, has become so obsessed with being the best at video games that he has mutated into a huge green head lying on a D-Pad. Seriously. The now monstrous Arino, upset at your gaming prowess, has sent you back to the early 1980s, never to return unless you can beat his challenges. Aided by Arino’s younger self, you get stuck in. I think I should probably leave this right there.