ron, Jul-06-2007

Sequenced VC Friday

Good Friday morning, Europe. You will notice that today there are four new Virtual Console games available on the Wii Shop Channel. Let's see. Ah. Sequels!

Dragon Spirit

This is another pretty nice vertically-scrolling shmup for the TurboGrafx console. It does the Xevious thing by separating air and ground targets, and giving you separate ways to shoot them, but is otherwise the much more polished game – in comparison to the pretty sad NES version of Xevious anyway – with the mandatory firepower upgrades, much more gameplay variety and, of course, bigger and better graphics and music.

Ecco: Tides Of Time

It's chic to complain about "non-games" on the Wii now, and how they will destroy the games industry, and yet somehow there is far too little hate for Sega's non-games of yore. Meet Ecco the dolphin (again, as this is a sequel) star in this dolphin control prototype and watch him meet up and talk with other fishy things in the correct sequence to trigger some kind of story progression.

Golden Axe II

And another mass brawler, but after having a few of them with modern street-gang styling, this time we return to an out-of-town fantasy setting. Like the first Golden Axe, it's slow, it's extremely mashy, it's difficult because it's cheap and there's seldom anything you can really do to reduce the number of hits you will take. The franchise has been ridiculously successful in the arcades, but for a home console game we continue to say that it's not relevant.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Sega's primary mascot revisits the formula of side-scrolling platform happenstance. He runs so fast he can do loops. When he jumps, he can rip through pretty much anything, enemy-wise, because he turns into a spinning ball of spike-doom (the "win button" syndrome). And he starts to have shitty friends in this installment.
Actually this game makes slightly more sense than the original Sonic The Hedgehog, which we'd class purely as a ride, and not quite a game, but that still does not make STH2 anything more than a colorful kids' distraction.

The second-best thing about this week is that another three pimple-faced Sega games are down and won't come up again. We can understand how Golden Axe works in an arcade setting, but the element of peer pressure, the motivation of one-upping rival players regardless of finer gaming sensibilities does not apply for a game you play at home. The mighty random number generator has grown far too powerful in its rule over your progress. It shall be banished to its own plane and sealed away with the combined force of all four elemental crystals.
Ecco and Sonic are meh for different reasons. These two are those typical "character concept" games that are just totally unrewarding to play. If you like colorful stuff moving around on screen, they could be fun to watch, but that has never been enough for us.

Which brings us to the best thing about this week on the Virtual Console front: Dragon Spirit. Oh good stuff this is. If you have all the other TurboGrafx shmups you might start getting burnt out on them, but in any case this belongs in the upper tier, alongside Soldier Blade and R-Type 3, and the different visual style certainly helps to set it apart.
Dragon Spirit we recommend. The other three we don't.


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