ron, Mar-30-2007

VC Friday (ready salted)

Fridays have a tendency to incur new games on that Virtual Console thing certain European Wii owners are known to peruse. This one is no exception.

Punch Out!

It's like Wii Sports boxing, but with more precise controls. Err.
The basic play of this NES boxing game is easy enough to explain: your character can punch either left or right, high or low, block or dodge (left or right again). And there's a slow but devastating uppercut.
The game isn't so much about brutalizing enemies outright, but rather dodging their attacks and filling in jabs and combos in the openings that creates. As the enemies get faster and their moves harder to follow, this becomes quite challenging.
It's kind of sad really, but it's not this game's fault that it is, in our opinion, the best, most interesting and most rewarding single-player boxing experience to this day. Yep, Fight Night, we know about you, we just don't think you can compete.
Punch Out has a sequel on the Super NES that will most certainly come out eventually on the Virtual Console, but unlike our usual stance of "wait for the proper version to come out", you should prefer this version for it's cleaner gameplay, and regard Super Punch Out as an addon which you can consider buying if you're really into Punch Out.

Dragon's Curse

A strange evolutional turn to the Wonder Boy/Adventure Island formula produced this TurboGrafx game, which resembles our beloved Zelda 2 quite a lot, with a straight-forward action combat system, RPGish character upgrading and magic spells, but it adds proper equipment and its own unique twists. The name-lending curse that befalls your main character means he is not quite the human he used to be, and will switch through various animal forms throughout this grand adventure, each with their own gameplay implications.
Considering the scope and the cleverness, this is very much worth 600 points.

The Legend Of The Mystical Ninja

And here we have a large and beautiful action adventure, i.e. less RPG elements, and more platforming. It does have an RPGish world though, with towns to gather info (and tons of mini-games!) and learn new combat tricks. It switches perspective regularly between top-down (ala Zelda 1 or Zelda: Link To The Past) and two kinds of side-scrolling (full-on like Zelda 2, Castlevania,Super Mario Bros et al, and with a little more perspective and depth). That means classification takes an awful lot of words, but it also keeps the game varied! Pretty awesome boss fights, too. And you can play co-op with two players simultaneously.

Wow, look, they're all good. If you absolutely must choose, it depends on what you expect from a Virtual Console game. If you want excellent game-play in a "casual" limited scope, ready to pick up for twenty minutes and put back down, you should under no circumstances let this week pass without Punch Out. There is substance to it, but the fight structure gives you an easy way to drop out after a victory.
The Mystical Ninja and Dragon's Curse are larger undertakings and would suck you in more, but they are both pretty much equally worth it. If you want the more varied gameplay and the bubblegum asthetics, go for Dragon's Curse, and if OTOH you can do with less complexity but appreciate a more alive world and a more realistic (though still cartoonish) graphics, you should prefer Legend Of The Mystical Ninja.
Though again, they are all three excellent games.

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