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Tecmo Classic Arcade (Xbox) artwork

Tecmo Classic Arcade (Xbox) review


"Tecmo Cup tries to make soccer exciting, but it plays like a crippled Blade of Steel (NES) or NHL Hockey (Genesis), although I have to admit I was pretty excited when my very first kick scored a goal against the opposing team. Senjyo is an exercise in 3D innovation that doesn't really work, and Pinball Action is so boring that Tecmo had to put the word "Action" at the end to try to trick you into thinking it's exciting."



No one can seem to agree on the purpose of classic game compilations. Should they be faithful, historical archives of the past... including any gruesomely embarrassing skeletons? Should compilations offer remakes designed to make past hits playable in today's generation? Or should they just gather a whole bunch of well-known (and presumably fun) games onto a single disc? Most collections do at least one or two of the above and still get trashed by the press or on message boards.

I have good news for you -- we won't have to find answers to these puzzling questions, because Tecmo Classic Arcade doesn't try to do any of that. It's just an incomplete collection of mostly unpopular, mostly unmemorable games.

Before I even talk about what's on the disc, here's what's not:

* Ninja Gaiden
* Silk Worm
* Tecmo Knight / Wild Fang
* Gemini Wing
* Final Star Force
* Saboten Bombers
* Angel Eyes
* Dead or Alive
* Dead or Alive 2

If those games were on the disc (even though Ninja Gaiden has aged pretty badly), this compilation would RULE. But they're not. Instead of giving us the best and craziest games from their arcade history, Tecmo offers up:

SWIMMER! It's a game about... swimming. But it's got ACTION -- you'll have to dodge SCARY logs and SCARY crabs while eating dots! I could talk about the choppy animation that makes it nearly unplayable or how Pac-Man (which was already in arcades) kicked Swimmer's butt, but I'll just be polite and move on to the game I was actually anticipating...

...the epic adventure of Rygar, Warrior of Argus! Be warned: arcade Rygar is nothing like the NES game, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise doesn't know what they're talking about and can't be trusted. NES Rygar is an action-RPG that plays like a precursor to Capcom's Bionic Commando (another NES game that's very different from its arcade counterpart). The arcade version of Rygar plays most similarly to a fast-paced Ninja Warriors, where the hero simply runs from left to right killing everything in his way. There's no swinging from limbs, no exploration, and very little jumping. But you'll die a lot. This game was clearly designed to steal players' quarters, and this is a faithful port... which also means that Rygar -- like all the other games on the disc -- doesn't fill the screen, which makes the experience feel less like a classic arcade and more like cheap emulation.

The next "big" game on this compilation is Tecmo Bowl, which is really only notable because your players can jump around like maniacs while running the ball down the field. Sure, it's fun for a few minutes (especially with a friend), but Tecmo Super Bowl on SNES is a lot better. Besides, it's hard for me to recommend a $30 disc for Tecmo Bowl when there are better games for $5 used at the local GameStop... like NFL 2K or Madden 2003.

Tecmo Cup tries to make soccer exciting, but it plays like a crippled Blade of Steel (NES) or NHL Hockey (Genesis), although I have to admit I was pretty excited when my very first kick scored a goal against the opposing team. Senjyo is an exercise in 3D innovation that doesn't really work, and Pinball Action is so boring that Tecmo had to put the word "Action" at the end to try to trick you into thinking it's exciting.

But it's not all bad! The most impressive game is Pleiads... which was also Tecmo's first arcade release. Sure, NOW it just looks like a lame knock-off of Galaga and Space Invaders, but back in 1981, this was hot stuff! One part even simulates actual movement through space. Believe it or not, the concept of a vertically-scrolling shooter was innovative back then.

The other shooters are also somewhat decent. Star Force is a nice proto-Gunhed, and Strato Fighter isn't too much worse than R-Type. Unfortunately, R-Type had already been out for four years before Strato Fighter hit arcades. Furthermore, even though Strato's graphics kick the ass of every other game on the compilation, it doesn't have the same creative energy found in Tecmo's platform-puzzlers Bomb Jack and Solomon's Key (which, like Rygar, was also different -- and better -- on the NES).

Even though none of the five worthwhile games on Tecmo Classic Arcade offer the same level of excitement as Bosconian, Forgotten Worlds, Smash TV, or Space Harrier (all of which are available on competing compilations), I guess they're still somewhat worth playing. I'll give them half a point each.

//Zig

Rating: 2/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (October 14, 2005)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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