Retro Game Challenge Hands-On

Remember gaming in the '80s? We do. Retro Game Challenge taps into an era that we hold dear in our hearts.


Remember what it was like to play video games in the '80s? Were you even born then? Anyway, if you were, you'll find many great, nostalgic moments in Xseed Games' upcoming Retro Game Challenge, in which you take on challenges from an evil, self-proclaimed "Game Master." The game is based on the popular Japanese Game Center CX TV series, and was originally called Game Center CX when it was released in Japan in 2007. Now you can relive those fond memories of blowing on cartridges, having your mom yell at you for playing video games all day, and even read up on '80s game magazines for cheat codes--all virtually, of course.

Play from the comfort of your own living room.
Play from the comfort of your own living room.

You play as a young boy who is taken back in time before big-screen TVs, high-def, and grammar-free localization. You are forced to play a series of video games by Game Master Arino, a floating green head who continually gives you challenges to beat. A young and more innocent Arino sits next to you in your living room, offering advice and random tidbits of information, and chuckling at the fact that in the future he will become this mean Game Master. The back-and-forth banter is fun to read because they'll bring up topics that you may have discussed with your siblings back in the day, and they also comment on the state of the industry now. If you're old enough to get the references, there are some hilarious parodies of gaming in the '80s.

The games are all eight-bit classics that bring back memories of Galaga and Dragon Quest, but you play them in brief spurts, given that you're aiming only to meet the challenge set forth by the wacky Arino. They can range from high scores, to finding a free life, or beating a particular stage or boss. If you find yourself having trouble, there are in-game manuals and game magazines that you can read to either help you play the game the hard way or use the handy dandy cheat codes provided to make life easier. There's no "up up down down left right left right B A," but you get the picture.

There are a couple of vertical scrolling shooters, a ninja door-swinging game, a racing game, and a role-playing game to enjoy, as well as multiple versions of a few of the games. Once you've beaten the requirements for these games, you'll unlock Free Play mode, which will let you play these gems as often as you'd like from the main startup menu. The setup for Retro Game Challenge is great because it lets you play a variety of genres, and the gameplay is broken up due to the unique setting of sitting in a virtual living room. The only downside is that you get just one save file, so you'll have to replay and unlock all of the games again if you decide to do so.

Game Master Arino will keep you on your toes.
Game Master Arino will keep you on your toes.

The eight-bit action will happen in the top screen, and the bottom screen is where you manage everything else. You can chat with Arino, read magazines, take notes on a notepad, or just space out in front of the TV in the plain, Japanese-style living room. Retro Game Challenge manages to capture the essence of what it was like to play as a child, and the visuals are close to what these games used to look like. The sound brings back the bleeps and bloops of the era, but even with the limited soundtrack, what's coming out of your Nintendo DS in terms of visuals and sound is much more polished than what was coming out of an Atari many years ago.

Retro Game Challenge is an entertaining bundle of classic games with a brilliant setting. Older gamers will definitely find a lot of golden moments as they play through, giggling at phrases such as, "You shooted 28 asteroids." The challenges can be a bit tough, but if you're dedicated enough to read up on the latest gaming news in the magazines, you should have a blast in this trip down memory lane. Take a look at our gameplay footage from when we had it on last year's Import Friendly, and look for Retro Game Challenge when it is released on February 10.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 23 comments about this story