Reviews: Retro Game Challenge

Nostalgic and well-made collection of original old-school style games

Retro Game Challenge is not just a collection of surprisingly well-designed games, but also an experience: it's essentially the NES era in video game form. The 8 games contained within are entirely original creations rather than remakes, but their genres and play styles are instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up in the 80s.

It's very impressive. Even though all of these games are original, they all felt spot-on. As the years progress in Retro Game Challenge and more games become available, the games you play begin to feel more technically advanced, with more varied and more complex music, more detailed graphics, more gameplay elements, and more refinement. Having lived this progression, it's amazing to see it recreated so accurately. It also means that seeing more games unlocked becomes its own reward, as the new games begin to show technical and design improvements over previous ones.

The genres chosen are a mix of the representative and the questionable. We get a turn-based RPG, a Metroidvania platformer, and two shooters. On the other hand, we also have two overhead-view driving games (one of which is a "special edition" of the other), and two weird games involving opening and closing doors to navigate and attack enemies (?!). Personally, if I designed the game, I would have included at least one beat-em-up in there and a Mario-esque platformer, but that's me.

The games are not only representative of the design styles of the 80s, but most are also genuinely enjoyable games in their own right, ranging from not bad to very good. They're all short, but that's to be expected, since you've literally got 8 games in this package. Guadia Quest is hardly the size of Dragon Warrior, but it's just the right size for an RPG in a game compilation. Robot Ninja Haggleman 3 is a very good Metroidvania platformer that puts up a good fight, has great branching level design, and a nice upgrade system, but it's three levels - though the last level is huge.

In short, Retro Game Challenge is an excellent representation of 1980s gaming. The games, though short, have the depth of their respective genres in their respective time periods, and at least three (Star Prince, Robot Ninja Haggleman 3, and Guadia Quest) are pretty good games in their own right.