Monday, December 11, 2006

This Week's Virtual Console Releases

After last week's terrible lineup, I'm sure everyone will be happily looking forward to this batch. We're being asked to pay hard cash for the same games again and again, but now we're finally able to play some classic games that have so far evaded any reissues.

It seems that Nintendo will be following the release schedule from Japan for the forseeable future, which means that the States will only be a little behind the curve. Again. Hey, it wouldn't be classic game nostalgia without Japan-envy, right? At least Sega isn't packaging fruit roll-ups. Be thankful for that. Let's take a look at this week's releases:

Ice Hockey - Nintendo for NES - 8/10

Ice Hockey has never claimed to be anything more than a simple, arcade-style hockey game, and despite the likes of Blades of Steel and EA Sports, this little title has always held its own. Perhaps this is a reason why Nintendo is dumping so many early NES titles onto the VC - they're trying to recapture that magic of gameplay that transcends graphics.

In any case, here's Ice Hockey in all its glory. It certainly has its flaws, like having to control both the goalie and another player (which makes defense a real pain), and no real balance between the three players. Be honest. You're going to fill up your team with fat kids. Who's gonna be the stringbean?

Hmm. I'm surprised no one ever thought to release this game with the South Park characters. In any case, this is five dollars wisely spent.

Alien Crush - Naxat Soft for Turbographx - 6/10

I noticed earlier this weekend that Hudson has the rights to Alien Crush, which was developed by Naxat Soft. Since I'm unaware if that studio is around any more (likely not), this is good news, because we'd never want their excellent games to be lost to the winds. Now Alien Crush is back for the first time since its 1989 debut.

There have been a few attempts at making a good video pinball game, but most of them fell short. Just about the only good one was Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set, from EA's early glory days a thousand years ago. So Alien Crush was a real standout among the early Turbografx games.

This is probably the start of the whole videogame-pinball fusion, which is still used today with the likes of Metroid Fusion Pinball and all those lousy character-driven pinball titles on the Gameboy Advance. It's a fun game, always offers a number of goals and options, and is loaded, loaded, LOADED with atmosphere.

It's a formula that Naxat perfected with Devil's Crush a short time later. That's the one I'm really looking forward to.

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine - Compile for Genesis - 7/10

This game has one very obvious fault for me, and I'm sure it's a thorn in your side as well. This game is really Compile's Puyo Puyo. It's a great little series of games, even if you couldn't tell one apart from the other to save the light. It's a genuine mainstay for puzzle fans.

No, the crime is this: Sega of America ripped out all the original Puyo Puyo characters, and threw in the ones from the hideous Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon show. You know, the one starring Erkel. Yeech. Now I have to watch this bulbous, blobby guy with a really bad mustache hurl insults at poorly-drawn cartoon characters nobody liked.

Nintendo, of course, committed the same crime, bastardising the SNES version with characters from the Kirby universe. Another cheap cash-in...booo!! Just leave the damn thing alone, already!

There's no need in having a Puyo Puyo for every console, so if you have another version lying around somewhere, you can safely skip this version. If not, well, the core of the game is very good, and it's always nice to play on the big screen with friends.

Gunstar Heroes - Treasure for Genesis - 10/10

Now we've hit paydirt. What more can I say about Gunstar Heroes than I've already written in my Videogame Classics essay? It's arguably the best game ever made for the Sega Genesis (Herzog Zwei and S3K give it a run for its money), arguably the best game Treasure ever made, and arguably the greatest run-and-gun shooter after the original NES Contra.

You'll get into long-winded discussions with Gunstar fans about how Sega royally screwed up in the States, with the lousy box art instead of the cool Japanese artwork, the lack of any aggressive marketing, and those damned fruit roll-ups. What genius came up with that pathetic idea? The game was condemned to the status of cult classic, overlooked or unlooked by most, but revered by the few who took note.

Don't be one of those who missed the boat. Gunstar is about as sure a must-have as anything you'll find on store shelves today. This is going to seriously cut into your Wii proper time.


ManekiNeko said...

Don't forget to add Mr. Big to your list of complaints about the marketing for the game!


Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Ah, yes, how could I forget? But that's why people like you are around. Of course, it's all academic by now. All those concerns, all the things that sent the zines into a frenzy - they've all passed away. The only thing that remains is the game itself.

Now we're in the virtual realm where marketing is meaningless. The games have to stand and fall on their own. You'll also have to buy your own fruit roll-ups.