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UFO Brings Classic LCD Gaming to DSi + 3DS

Written By: E. Thomas

10/10/2012

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  • Publisher: UFO Interactive Games, INC
  • Developer: UFO Interactive Games, INC
  • Rating: E for Everyone
  • Genre: Action (Retro)
  • Players: 1
  • System: Nintendo DSi and 3DS

These days handheld gaming is more popular than ever. In places like Japan it has become the dominant form of gaming. And with the advent of mobile gaming, the genre has exploded reaching new heights of popularity and profitability. However, this new billion dollar industry had some very humble roots.

At the dawn of handheld gaming stands the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) game system. LCD and LED (Light-emitting diode) games are the pillars that support the modern handheld gaming industry. While the LCD genre was crowded with shallow time wasters, companies like Nintendo, Tiger, and Mattel created games that truly delivered satisfying gameplay with only a minimal amount of technology. Nintendo elevated the genre to an art-form with their highly praised Game & Watch series, created by industry legend Gunpei Yokoi. That's why when I first heard about Retro Pocket, I knew I had to give it a try. A retro LCD game collection and Nintendo hardware seemed like a perfect combination.

Just the Facts:

Retro Pocket was developed and published by UFO Interactive Games. The company has a large catalog of titles that range from classic shooting games to family friendly titles. Notable games include Raiden III (PS2), Raiden IV (X360), and Ultimate Shooting Collection for Nintendo Wii.

Retro Pocket is a collection of 8 classic LCD style games. Each game has two levels of difficulty, or for those of you familiar with the LCD genre, each game has an "A" and "B" mode. Gameplay occurs on one screen, and the touch screen is only employed to select your level of difficulty. Controls are very basic, something you might expect from an LCD game collection.

A Blast from the Past:

The visual style of this game is a perfect throwback to classic LCD gaming. Everything looks great, from the fixed image LCD silhouette of the graphics, to the simulated painted glass overlay found in many LCD titles.

The sound in this game is not the usual bleeps and buzzing noises you get from traditional LCD games. Instead UFO has created a soundtrack that harkens back to the classic 8-Bit gaming days. The audio might also remind you of a Vegas casino. There are even sampled human voices, dogs barking and other real world audio effects. It all works very well and makes the gameplay experience a bit more immersive and satisfying.

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The Best and the Rest:

While not every game in this collection is a winner, there are a few that stand out above the rest. One of my personal favorites was a bizarre little title called Kung-Fu Hero. In this game players are forced to defend their girlfriend from a group of bottle throwing thugs. That's right, they're throwing bottles at your girlfriend. It's a completely crazy, if not entirely politically incorrect premise that makes for one of the most frenetic and enjoyable games in the group.

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Another highlight of the group is Postman. Simply fill your mail bag and try to avoid the barking dogs. It's a simple concept that leads to some very fun gameplay.

Egg Drop might remind you of the classic Game & Watch game Oil Panic. Meanwhile Watch Your Head and Candy Factory both share a similar premise. They're also highly reminiscent of Mario's Cement Factory.

Video_Games/Egg-Drop.jpg Video_Games/Watch-Your-Head.jpg Video_Games/Candy-Factory.jpg

Fireman has the player fighting fires in a three story building while trying to catch the occasional falling damsel in distress. The action is fairly slow early in the game, but the pace gradually increases as you play. However, sometimes it feels like the damsel is falling in slow motion. I also found that it was effective to shoot your hose at a target before the fire appears on screen.

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Whale Escape has players running across the back of a whale while trying to avoid being swallowed by the large creature. Rounding out the collection is Fuel Drop, the only game in the bunch that uses only the L and R triggers. Players must sort drops of black and white liquid into separate containers. It's a simple, and somewhat dull premise.

The Final Word:

Retro Pocket is a nice tribute to classic LCD gaming. While not every game in the collection is good, the strongest titles make up for the weakness of the rest. The easy mode in this game is very easy, and it takes some time before the difficulty ramps up, so be patient. The superb audio is a real treat, it's definitely an unexpected bonus. This is a game that will appeal more to older gamers and fans of the LCD genre, so if you have enjoyed previous LCD game collections like Game & Watch Gallery, you will probably enjoy Retro Pocket.

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Retro Pocket is a love letter to classic LCD gaming.

  • Gameplay: 7
  • Graphics: 7
  • Audio: 8
  • Replay Value: 7

Final Review Score: 7/10