You know, even if you follow video game news very closely, you can’t catch everything. There are just some things that are bound to slip through the cracks here and there, whether you like it or not. And one of those things just happens to be Retro Game Challenge for the Nintendo DS.

Fortunately for me, I’m catching wind of this just in time. I’d heard the name mentioned before, and I think at first glance, it didn’t quite grab me. But I was just reading the January issue of Nintendo Power when I came across the ad, and as a good ad should, it pretty much sold me immediately on the concept: The evil Game Master Arino (who’s really based on a Japanese TV show host) traps you in the 80’s, and forces you to play NES-styled games (shooter, racing, platformer, and role-playing) in order to get back to your time. Even better, several titles have “sequels” that follow various industry trends of the time, from keeping everything the same but improving graphics to completely changing the foundation of the title.

When you complete the challenge for each title, you unlock the full game for free play. The DS game itself also includes oldschool-styled game manuals and even fake old video game magazines (called “Game Fan,” ironically) which cover actual gaming news and stories from the 80s, including the crash of ’83.

Fortunately, the game has only just come out in Japan, and isn’t due here in February, so I’m not totally behind. If you wish to learn more yourself, then here is the mildly-informative Wikipedia page, but for a better idea of what it’s all about, you’ll want to check out the official site. While the games look amusingly tongue-in-cheek, I think a large part of the appeal is the theme and narrative that ties it all together, Wario Ware style.

–LBD “Nytetrayn”