ron, Apr-13-2007

VC uncanny Friday

Friday the thirteenth brings with it a horrifying dark wave of evil gaming products. The following three games have secretly crawled, always prefering night time, through the shadowy innards of European Wiis, and even though you could only see their motions from the corner of your eye previously, they are now clearly visible on the Shop Channel, mocking you, hypnotizing you, making you add them to your Virtual Console collection. Grargh!

ActRaiser

This SNES game is a pretty unique combination of a side-scrolling action platformer and a top-down strategy game, in the style of Sim City, or perhaps Caesar or maybe Populous, where your actions as a slightly divine entity can shape the lands, growth and fortunes of a small nation, and you progress by making them prosper. It's a strange mix of two game types you seldom see together, but that's not a flaw; it's done very well. It's also a very attractive game, the music especially is awesome.

Bonk's Revenge

Bonk has already made an appearance on the Virtual Console, but that somehow predates our weekly write-up fabrication.
The crude-mannered but likeable caveman, still indigenous to the TurboGrafx, explores a linear series of side-scrolling stages where he performs some platforming duties and rams enemies of all sizes into the ground with his surprisingly robust forehead. Eating a lump of meat gives him a burst of strength, so that even the largest dinosaurs can be felled.
We already liked the first, and this one adds a little more depth while keeping all the good elements intact.

Pac-Man

You've heard about this game before. Okay, for prosperity:
Pac-Man is a yellow blob with a mouth that must (don't ask for reasons!) munch all the food, represented by little dots, in the maze he happens to live in. But there are ghosts who chase him!
Pac-Man can move slightly faster than the ghosts, but as he must visit every corner of the maze to complete a level, and then be put in another one that is exactly the same, when the ghosts unite forces, they can still block off his escape route. But Pac-Man has a secret weapon, the power pill! It will allow him to eat ghosts for a few seconds.
Okay, you knew all of this already and we feel sufficiently embarassed about the explanation now to stop.
Pac-Man is a good game, but also follows ancient standards. Hence this NES version lacks any greater structure that would make the minute or so that a successful attempt at playing a level takes any more meaningful, and it's just between you and the high-score.

Yeah well. We thought we'd play a little on the "bad luck" and "horror" superstitious angles, but what we actually got today are three quite pleasant games. Again we have markedly different strokes for different folks: Pac-Man is definitely compatible with very casual gaming. Bonk has a larger scope but is pretty straight-forward to play. ActRaiser is a more engaging experience that will require you to invest more time, and strategize ever so slightly.
These titles were very well selected, and we'd be happy to see more of this kind of Friday!

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