Thursday, December 07, 2006

Virtual Console Reviews - NES Launch

Okay, this is a great way to pad out a weblog without doing any real, responsible writing, but I thought I should write reviews for all the launch games for Nintendo's Virtual Console. For this post, we'll take a look at the NES releases, seven in all. It's pretty painful, so be sure to put on your Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses:

Donkey Kong - Nintendo for NES - 1984 - 5/10

I think this was among the very first Famicom games from 1984. It shows. Why Nintendo couldn't be bothered to make the perfect version of Donkey Kong remains a mystery to generations of videogamers. This was just a cheap-ass port that may have impressed those poor kids who got stuck with the Atari 2600 version, but no one else.

Donkey Kong on NES is missing the introductions, the "how high can you go?" level screens, and one of the game's four levels. How's that for being cheap? Yuck. This whole thing is a damn ripoff if Nintendo expects you to cough up five bucks for this drivel. If you could buy the game for, say, one dollar...well, it would still be a ripoff, but at least it would be managable.

Just for the record, the best home version of Donkey Kong? The Atari 800 version.

Mario Bros. - Nintendo for NES - 1984 - 5/10

The chincey Nintendo arcade ports continue with another early Famicom game, this time Mario Bros. Now, Mario Bros was a really good game at the time, especially for its two-player action. You could work together, or you could bump your sibling right into an oncoming crab. Ah, good times.

The NES version, again, is a cheap-ass port that cut too many corners and just looks like a second-hand effort. Don't you think Nintendo would've put some pride in their own arcade legacy? These should have been the definitive versions, but, again, what we get is second-rate.

This is not worth five bucks. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either stupid...or spending someone else's money.

Pinball - Nintendo for NES - 1983 - 3/10

It's shit.

Did I say that already? My apologies, but it really needs to be said. This game is absolutely terrible, and you have to seriously wonder why Nintendo chose to dump so many poor NES titles onto the VC. What's the freakin' deal, anyway?!

For its time, Pinball isn't too terrible, but it was never any better than mediocre, and it's aged terribly. Its only function, I suppose, may be to remind future generations just how boring some of those early-80s videogames really were.

Soccer - Nintendo for NES - 1984 - 2/10

Aw, booo!!!! BOOO!!!

What the hell are you trying to do, Nintendo?! Are you trying to get us to return our Wii's and buy Playstations? Are you trying to lose this thing?

We're not even dealing with boring or mediocre games anymore. Now we're in the seventh level of hell. The optimist in me hopes that Virtual Console could revive the whole history of videogames, ushering an era when you could freely pick and choose through any console's history.

The cynic in me says this is just another Cheap Nintendo Stunt. One where they steal from the dumb suckers who consider themselves fans, and stick you with a steaming pile of...well, you get the idea.

Solomon's Key - Tecmo for NES - 1987 - 7/10

Alright, this is better. A real game. One that's worth playing, at that. Solomon's Key is an action-puzzler, similar enough to other games of the time like Adventures of Lolo and Milon's Secret Castle. And don't forget the ever-present Super Mario influence, with secrets hidden behind the blocks.

This is a smart little game, and it strikes a good balance between making you think and keeping you on your toes. I'd say that I prefer Milon's Secret Castle, but that's just me. You'll do well to have a title like this in your VC collection. Heck, after that painful journey through the underworld, this is better than ten Super Bowls.

If you want a good example of the period when the NES really hit its stride, this is a good pick.

The Legend of Zelda - Nintendo for NES - 1986 - 10/10


This is the real reason most people care about the VC. Sure, you've already paid for the original Zelda a couple times already, including a Gameboy Advance re-release a year or two ago, which makes me a little suspicious about Nintendo's future plans for their emulation service. I'm getting a little tired of being told to pay money for the same games again and again. Maybe that's just me.

Fortunately, this is the first reappearance of this game on a full console since the original NES days. It's a rush to play through Zelda again, especially now that I've long forgotten where everything is. It'll be just like playing through the first time again.

The only potential problem I forsee is that today's kids won't have the patience to hunt around Hyrule to find everything. You see, all the later games since Zelda 3 on the Super Nintendo showed you where to plant the bombs, and where all the secrets were. No such luxuries here, junior. The only way you're going to find anything is by strapping bombs to every...square...inch of wall in the game.

Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Did I also mention that Zelda is a pretty damned tough game to boot? As Hunter Thompson liked to say, pay the money, take the ride.

Wario Woods - Nintendo for NES - 1994 - 5/10

Finally, we're back to dullsville with this rather dull puzzler from 1994. Wasn't the NES already a stinking corpse by then? Heck, I think the Genesis was just about to be taken out back by Sega and wacked. Why would anyone still be playing NES games?

Wario's Woods is oddly named, since it's clearly just a standard stack-three-things Tetris knockoff with Nintendo cartoon characters slapped on. It's funny to notice that these are all the second-tier characters. That pink dinosaur girl who shoots eggs? What was her name again? And I'm supposed to care because...?

The difference between this game and every other Tetris clone is that your character grabs the puzzle pieces and throws them around. And everything is sickenly, cloyingly cute. Yuck. It's just the sort of thing girlfriends pull out when they want to embarass you into giving up videogames.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Yes! The Atari 800 had the best versions of Donkey Kong & Donkey Kong Jr. As far as I know, the Atari 800 version of DK is the only home version ever to include the "pie factory" level.

For such huge arcade games in Nintendo's history, it's sad -- no, insulting -- to see them time and time again release the crappy NES ports. For a company so big on the value of it's back catalog, I'm stunned as to why they ignore this blockbuster title, and why we haven't ever gotten an actual port of the arcade game.