Bargain Bin: Retro Edition

Tired of trading in half of your gaming collection only to find yourself with enough credit for the latest iteration of Barbie Pony Adventure? TGR has you covered with our weekly feature on games that won’t empty your wallet but will entertain you all the same. After all, when you’re looking for deals the first place to go is always the Bargain Bin.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies (Wii, DS)

Still an Xbox Live Arcade hit, the Geometry Wars series has pretty much proven to the gaming industry that not only is there money to be had in downloadable, independently developed games, but that the arcade genre is still alive and kicking. Addicting gamers with its gorgeous-yet-simple visuals and easy to pick up controls, Geometry Wars is one of those games you can just play over and over again, making it a perfect entry into the Bargain Bin.

And while we could focus on the downloadable versions of the game, we’re going to take a look at the Nintendo-based versions, simply because I can’t think of anything better than having a high quality game that you can play on the go. Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the DS brings basically the same package into a portable format. The graphics, restricted by the somewhat inferior hardware of the DS, don’t quite hold up the visual luster of the original and latest renditions of the game, but it still looks good. That being said, it’s a little hard to complain about visuals when you’re having this much fun. Geometry Wars on the DS is still Geometry Wars, with touch based controls a given (why else would you bring it to the DS?), and enhanced gameplay and level design inspired by classic arcade games, Geometry Wars is a catch for anyone interested in retro gaming or just a genuinely fun game that can be played both at length or just as effectively in short bursts.

There are some flaws: the controls take a little getting used to at first and as mentioned, the graphics aren’t as good as the original, but they are mostly minor. Geometry Wars is a game that for $20 has the potential to last a long time.

One may also note that there is a Wii version and that it sells for the same price. While the initial reaction may be to buy the console version, by many accounts the DS copy is the better deal. Yes, the Wii visuals are more in tune with the flashiness of the Xbox 360 game, but the controls are worse. The game does let you remap them, but honestly, why pay the same amount for this when you can buy a game that is essentially the same thing and can be played wherever and whenever you please? If you have a Wii and not a DS, then sure go for it. And if you would just prefer to play the Wii version, who am I to tell you no? They’re both the same price after all, and either one is going to be a great experience, so whichever pie suits you, please, dig in!

  • Amazon (Note: used Amazon prices are subject to change)
    • New – $19.99 (Wii, DS)
    • Used – $14.40 (Wii)
    • Used – $11.12 (DS)
  • Gamestop
    • New – $19.99 (DS)

Sega Genesis Collection (PS2, PSP)

I missed out on the Sega Genesis. I played it a few times at a friend’s house, but beyond that I was a Nintendo man, awaiting eagerly the day that I might finally get my own SNES. Looking back, I don’t regret my Nintendo fandom — that wouldn’t happen until I bought a Wii — but I can acknowledge that I did miss out on some really cool games. Luckily Sega’s got my back, and released a collection of the best and most popular Genesis games. Included in this package is a venerable buffet of great games: Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2, Phantasy Star 2 through 4, all of the Gauntlets, Kid Chameleon, the Vectorman games… there are too many to name here.

These are games that in their time people would have paid an arm and a leg for, and here they are, all present and ready for duty in a single convenient package. The emulation is great; everything that was is still there today. The are mapped brilliantly across the PS2 and PSP. Overall this is just a great deal, featuring something for the fans of just about every genre. Which brings us to choice time. Which version should you pick, the PS2 or PSP copy? Well, if you only have one or the other it’s not hard to figure out (they do still teach the process of elimination in schools, right?), but if you have both, it can be a bit trickier.

The PSP version has some problems that the PS2 one doesn’t seem to suffer from. The first, and likely most important to you my bargain-seeking friends, is that the price is higher. If you’re shopping used, the price jump isn’t too significant, but a new copy will probably be around $10 more than the PS2 version. Furthermore, the PSP suffers from minor visual problems in a few places, though they are largely negligible. If anything, the biggest difference is the lack of some PS2-exclusive content. For instance, in the PS2 collection you can unlock the arcade version of Altered Beast, which by all accounts is superior to the Genesis one included in both versions. The PSP does offer some nice two-player Wi-Fi options, but both players need to have copies of the game which can be inconvenient.

In the end what’s going to matter the most really is if portability matters to you. For me the answer was yes; these aren’t games that I feel are going to benefit all that much from a console’s superior tech, and having never played Altered Beast, the loss of the arcade version was of little consequence to me. I wanted to be able to play Sonic on the go, so I bought the PSP copy. What matters to you, however, may be different, but there is no lack of options. The Sega Genesis Collection is not that hard to find in either format for the time being.

  • Amazon (Note: used Amazon prices are subject to change)
    • New – $19.99 (PS2)
    • New – $29.99 (PSP)
    • Used – $10.75 (PS2)
    • Used – $13.74 (PSP)
  • Gamestop
    • New – $17.99 (PSP)
    • Used – $19.99 (PS2)

Games to Avoid

There are a lot of retro collections out there and while the Sega Genesis Collection is one that demonstrates how worthwhile they can be, there are others that only serve to deface the value of the games they’re milking. Take the EA Replay collection for instance. At first glance, it seems to be a real bargain. On Amazon, you can find it right now for around $4 used, and it contains some neat titles. The main draw that almost got me was Wing Commander. That being said, some games are cheap for a reason and by many accounts the ports in EA Replay are plagued by lousy controls and poor translation from their original versions. A part of me still wants to buy this. I love Wing Commander and some of the other titles sound really appealing, but as in most cases when multiple sources report it as a lousy game, it probably is, and as such you might do well to save your money for other affordable endeavors.

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