ron, Sep-07 2007

VC Friday fwom the gwave

Uh, oh, they are coming!
As of this morning, there are five new Virtual Console games available on the European Wii Shop Channel. Five. That would make it quite difficult to choose, unless of course you had some kind of help.


Another version of this game was released in March already, but that was a sequel to this earlier Megadrive installment. The levels are somewhat different, but the game behaves equally: you maneuver your knightly hero-type character through graveyards and haunted castle sections, while fending off undead and demons with various weapons and dying a lot. Ghouls'n'Ghosts isn't just a difficult platformer, it's frustrating, unforgiving and punishing.
Due to some of its design choices such as zero air control and the low chance of evading anything due to low speed and a weak jump, the game almost requires you to memorize its levels and your optimal button presses before you can go anywhere. Ghouls'n'Ghosts seems to throw more simultaneous enemies at you than Super, and gets truly intense early on. In places it's almost like a bullet-hell shmup on foot (replace bullets with crows, zombies, fireballs and rotating knives). Also parts of the whole package are wonderful graphics plus quite memorable music.

Shining In The Darkness

This first-person RPG transplants some of Shining Force's lore and style into a simple dungeon crawl. Unlike Shining Force, all enemy encounters are random, they can't be seen in the exploration perspective. Battles are still strictly turn-based though.

Crack Down

This is a straight-forward top-down action game. You punch stuff in the face, you shoot stuff with guns, you blow things to bits. It feels somewhat like a "modern, with guns"-version of Gauntlet, but there are far less enemies so it's actually manageable, and it has some nice game design elements of its own, such as the ability to press against a wall to avoid bullets, and of course weapon and ammo management.

ESWAT City Under Siege

This is a straight-forward side-scrolling action platformer that starts to sprout some impressive weaponry once you reach later levels. It's slower paced and there seems to be a bit more honest platforming than in the genre reference.

Sonic The Hedgehog 3

Ah, that blue spiky character thing again. Sonic can run really fast and when he jumps he's invincible and kills whatever he touches. If on the other hand he touches something while not jumping, that's bad (for him). If you don't pay much attention (and you really shouldn't), you'll reach the end of the level after thirty seconds, and then there'll be another one. Truly the stuff of legend.
Sonic 3 adds some power-ups, alternate paths for different characters and ridiculous story elements to the old idea of collecting-lots-of-rings-but-maybe-I-don't-really-care.

Shining In The Darkness is almost good, but its rule set is just too shallow for a game of this size. If you're interested in this style of game, we'd rather you get Etrian Odyssey for the DS instead. It hits a very close style but is much more nurturing in the long run. Doesn't have as many interface issues either. At least Shining In The Darkness is more varied, more complex and much more fleshed-out in its story aspects than Double Dungeons, but that's not much of a feat really.
Ghouls'n'Ghosts is a game for the true masochists. Yes, it's looking and sounding very nice, and with some skill it can be beaten, but we do not recommend getting it. Seriously, just don't.
Sonic hasn't appeared in any game that's worth playing yet. So no change this week.
ESWAT is interesting for a while, but even when it really takes off (which takes a while) it never reaches the same level of amazing non-stop action as Super Probotector, which we'd recommend you consider instead if this somehow seems to interest you. If you already have Super Probotector, ESWAT isn't going to impress you anyway.

The one game this week that really offers something we don't already have, and better, is thus Crack Down, though be warned that it is also the one that has the most dated look of the whole bunch.
Shining In The Darkness takes second place, but is just a borderline recommendation. It's not a shred above okay in its function as a dungeon crawl. The aspects that make it stand out are its character and art style, and if that's what you want, you'll find much more of it in Shining Force.
It'd be best to stay away from the other three.


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