March 2009

At this point, the holy grails of retro videogame collecting are pretty well established. Extremely rare games like Chase the Chuck Wagon or the Nintendo World Championship cartridge are widely sought by completist collectors, routinely fetching hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the rare occasions they’re even offered for sale.

But there’s a new generation of collectible pieces of gaming software and hardware that’s just now coming into focus. These are the rare and sought-after pieces from the GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 era that are already starting to show high resale prices, even as most games from that era stagnate in GameStop bargain bins.

This feature highlights 10 of these emerging collectibles, seeking to explain how the delicate interplay of supply and demand affects their relative value. While it’s hard to predict how these games will fare as the used market evolves in the coming decades, it’s a good bet that at least some of them will be coveted by the nostalgia-fueled, income-stuffed collectors who grew up with these recent systems. Who knows … the next gaming Holy Grail could be sitting in your closet right now!

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Reviewed this week:

  • Pitstop II
  • The Last Ninja
  • International Karate
  • Ogre Battle: The March fo the Black Queen
  • Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars

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In this week’s edition:

  • Exit 2
  • Peggle
  • Crystal Defenders 

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Kyle Orland

Ask the Game Trust: If I Could Change The WorldKyle Orland: Unskippable tutorials

Why is it a problem? Nothing sucks the fun out of the beginning of a game than being force-fed an explanation of the controls and in-game interactions in the form of a boring, slow-paced, playable recitation. I know games are getting more complex these days, but whatever happened to the fun of figuring things out for yourself? Either make the tutorial an optional starter level or space the instructions out through some sort of easy-to-ignore signage.

What are the chances it will actually get fixed? Pretty good. More and more games offer the option of skipping tutorials these days, and even those that don’t often make an effort to make the tutorials interesting, which is almost as good.

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Peggle: Dual ShotEver since its 2007 release on the PC, Peggle has always felt to me like it was begging for release on a portable system. The short levels and pick-up-and-play design make it the kind of game you want to fire up for five minutes in a bank line, not the kind you want to wait five minutes for while your PC starts up. The simple, ball-bouncing action is addictive enough to while away a long plane ride, but slightly less addictive if you’re hunched over the same desk you use to do your taxes. And a PC’s high-end graphics card and full keyboard support seem like a bit of a waste for a game that can literally be controlled with one button, and whose most taxing graphical requirement is the display of a rainbow at the end of a level.

So you’d think that the recent Nintendo DS port, called Peggle: Dual Shot, would be an absolute slam-dunk winner of a game. But while the port is a winner, it’s one that doesn’t get through without some significant problems. Rather than a slam dunk, it’s more like a layup that bounces off the rim a few times before finally sinking in. The result is the same, but the effect is diminished by the execution.

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Reviewed on this edition:

  • Wolf of the Battlefield: MERCS 
  • Lit
  • Life Force
  • Evasive Space

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Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop for Wii reviewFrom the first time it was shown, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome from the press. Most observers immediately and justifiably compared the game to its inspiration — 2006’s Dead Rising on the Xbox 360 — and found this new port wanting. Kotaku‘s hands-on preview roundly derided the game’s largely empty corridors and called the Wii port a “terrible, terrible idea.” A VG Cats comic declared in a fake ad that Chop Till You Drop was the “same game [with] half the content!” Even a writer at fan site GoNintendo said it felt like Wii owners were “getting a raw deal” with this new version of the game.

I have to take these previews at their word, frankly, because I don’t have much experience with the Xbox 360 version of Dead Rising. Call me a delinquent game critic if you must, but aside from a five-minute demo at a local GameStop, I never found the time to kill thousands of mall-based zombies until I played Chop Till You Drop. While this means I can’t offer up the point-by-point comparison that fans of the original might be looking for, it does mean I can go into this review with fresh eyes, seeing the Wii version for what it is rather than for the Xbox 360 version it can’t claim to be. Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is its own game, and one that has to stand or fall with or without the albatross of its popular predecessor hanging around its neck. Despite the system-to-system comparisons that will keep fanboys arguing well into the next generation, the only question that matters for millions of Wii-only gamers is this: Is Chop Till You Drop a fun, satisfying game in its own right?

The answer is slightly more “Yes, with a but” than “No, with a maybe.”

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Reviewed in this edition:

  • R-Type Dimensions
  • Minesweeper Flags
  • 3 on 3 NHL Arcade
  • Death Tank 

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