Heh. I know I've been long behind in my coverage of Virtual Console releases, and I've offered up the usual platter of excuses. But, to be brutally honest, my heart just isn't in it these days. I've always strongly supported the idea of a downloadable service like VC, and despite Nintendo's typically over-conservative strategy, continue to champion the service. But it appears that the whole idea has just run out of steam.
Perhaps it's a question of legal rights. The key to VC (and similar rivals like XBLA) lies not in the well-known hits - Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Metroid - but in the more obscure titles, those really good games that disappeared because they didn't spawn a dozen sequels. There are loads of great games on all of the console platforms that would find a new audience today. Unfortunately, that just isn't happening, and I'm increasingly doubtful that it will happen anytime soon.
If Nintendo and the other major publishers were only looking to VC as the latest cheap cash-out for their brand-name hits, then they did a pretty poor job of managing the store. Nearly all of those classics are available now. We're still holding out for Sega to somehow get it's game together for a Sonic 3 & Knuckles release...what else is there? Besides Contra and Mega Man, of course.
The folks who own the Atari name did a lousy job. They've issued the standard number of Atari classics reissues on the other platforms, but what about VC? Why the hell isn't the 2600, 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar available right now? Hell, all you have to do is configure those paddle controller games for the Wiimote, and suddenly Warlords becomes a household name. And where the bloody hell is Tempest 2000? Give that Wiimote control as well, and that game alone will be worth the price of a Wii.
Oh, and I know this is the standard Wii complaint (among those who can actually find one), but it bears repeating: the Nintendo Wii needs a storage space. Either make it an external hard drive of let us save on the memory cards. But get the damned game together.
Once I get a new hard drive this weekend, and assuming I can salvage my old one (please pretty please), I'll post some games on the various consoles that really must be released on VC.
All of which brings us to this week...only two games: Harvest Moon (Super NES) and Lords of Thunder (TG-CD). Or should I be happy, that there are actually two games? Wow. One more piece of coal for the heater. Thanks, Mister Scrooge. They're both kind of, well, bland. I'm not really impressed with either of 'em. No doubt many game fans will enjoy the hell out of 'em, but I'm not one of them.
Harvest Moon - Natsume for Super NES - 5/10
Here's the "short-short" version for you. Harvest Moon is one of those games that's been rehashed far too many times to ever be interesting anymore. The farming theme was interesting 15 years ago, but in the days when I can take Animal Crossing with me on the morning train, it's yesterday's game.
Here's the game. You plant vegetables. You grow stuff. You clear land. You live as a farmer, which, despite all the romanticism of Ma and Pa Kettle, Norman Rockwell paintings, and fantasies of the hot farmer's daughter, is unbelievably boring. There's a reason why everybody moved to the cities. Being on a farm sucks. This reminds me of those videogames that were thinly veiled job simulators, like that one where you're moving crates in a warehouse.* What the hell kind of game is that?! I normally don't encourage this sort of thing, but if your dreams go as far as working a minimum-wage job in a warehouse, or pulling weeds, you need to discover mushrooms.
So...if you really love farming, then start growing a real garden...you know, the kind with real vegetables. And if you really want Harvest Moon...get Neil Young's album. Heck, get all of his albums. On vinyl, of course.
Lords of Thunder - Hudson Soft for Turbografx-16 (CD) - 5/10
Lords of Thunder was the sequel to Gate of Thunder, which was a standout smash hit for the TurboDuo CD platform. It was one of those games that came out of nowhere, which largely explains its appeal. But that was the first game. The second one is far less interesting. Perhaps it's because the sci-fi spaceship has been replaced with some fantasy steroid freak, something which I've never been a fan of. You think that D&D fantasy stuff was painfully bad now, just try to imagine the days before all this modern technology. We only had broadcast television, or basic cable. Only 3o channels in existence! And all they ever played was reruns from the 1960's! Augh! The only thing that prepared you for was an affinity for spotting MST3K riffs.
And the music...help! The dark days of hair metal! Good heavens, Americans were really hung up on the fantasy muscleman back then. What was the deal with that, anyway? Was being gay still horribly repressed back then? I guess I wasn't paying attention, or maybe I was getting dizzy from model plane glue and didn't care. My teenage years sucked.
So Lords of Thunder only manages to remind me of all of this...which is why I hate it. No thanks. There are about, oh, a thousand other shooters to choose from. Nearly all of them are the same, in case you didn't notice. You'll be better off with one of those.
*yeah, i know it's called sokouban. sue me.