ron, May-25-2007

Seasonal VC Friday

Whoah! Is it summer now? We think it is. But that doesn't seem to intimidate the Wii Shop Channel. On the contrary, it sprouted three new Virtual Console game releases while we weren't looking.

Blazing Lazers

This impressive vertical shmup marks the beginning of the Super Star Soldier/Soldier Blade saga, and already features the same massive hordes of relatively soft enemies, and over-the-top upgrades that will make your own stream of fire literally fill the screen. Blazing Lazers might be slightly more accessible than Soldier Blade for uninitiated shmup players, because its difficulty takes much longer to ramp up, giving you more time to train yourself before it gets challenging. Unfortunately though you have to restart a level from the beginning when you die, which is more intimidating that Soldier Blade's drop-in continuation.

Mach Rider

Motorcycle racing with guns. Not much more needs to be said, except maybe that it's an NES game, and it has never been the NES's forte to create an authentic 3D view of a race track, third-person perspective or otherwise. It was already too simple for its own good when it came out, we're afraid.

Super Mario Bros 2

When it came out in Japan this wasn't actually a Mario game at all, and the multiple playable Mushroom Kingdom characters had been retro-fitted, and the title changed, for the western release. Nevertheless this is fully deserving of the title and is just as accessible and well-designed as a true Mario platformer.
Unlike Super Mario Bros, hopping on an enemy's head doesn't work as an attack. You simply can stand on enemies, ride them around the level, or pick them up, carry them for a bit and throw them into a more convenient place. You can also carry around an item you pluck from the ground (though they seem to have strange things growing as plants there).
The game also introduced doors, for some semblence of non-linearity, and vertically scrolling rooms/levels/whateveryouwanttocallthem.

Everyone should consider SMB2. It may be the black sheep of the series, but at just 500 points for such a substantial and crafty classic platformer, with really nice graphics and music to boot, it's an excellent deal.
Blazing Lazers deserves our recommendation as well, though it's clearly not of the same relevance as SMB2. If you still have some room for a well-rounded shmup, this is one of the best of its era, and if we can agree that it's better than its own predecessors, it's the best on the Virtual Console right now.
Mach Rider? Err. Sorry. No.


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