ron, Oct-26 2007

Zany VC Friday

Temperatures are dropping, prices are rising, and a small number of Virtual Console games hastily jump onto the European Shop Channel, presumably to complete the circle of life.

Magician Lord

Ah, another NeoGeo game. This one is a 2D action platformer where you dish out mostly ranged attacks against vaguely demonic enemy hordes, while hopping and dodging to avoid bullets and crossing the occasional bottomless pit. At times you will be able to transform into different forms for limited amounts of time, to give yourself a different style of attack. The game gets pretty focused on environmental hazards at times.

Super Air Zonk

It's yet another horizontal shmup for the TurboGrafx, and "yet another" is probably something that crossed the minds of the developers at the time, judging by the lengths they went to to differentiate this title. We're at a loss to describe the resulting visual style of the game. The best we can do is "random household absurdity". It looks unusual in any case, while it's actually quite traditional in terms of play. The weapon upgrade system is simplistic and it's not at all demanding in terms of memorization.

Yoshi's Story

Mario's pet dinosaur makes a center-stage appearance in this classic 2D platforming collectathon for the N64. Yoshi can swallow enemies with his sticky tongue and can jump pretty far, and the game uses the N64's 3D capabilities to copiously rotate and zoom parts of the stages. The actual twist to the game mechanics is that you must collect a certain amount of fruit to finish any given level.

We're really not happy with Magician Lord. The sprites are so big that you can't see nearly enough of your surroundings, and they are poorly animated to boot. The whole in-your-face beauty of the graphics somehow defeats itself this way in a single but two-pronged attack, and if you take away the visual appeal, there isn't all that much left of the game. The levels seem varied and well-designed enough but the combat is just primitive and can't carry this game anywhere above irrelevance.
Super Air Zonk, despite being the most remarkable shmup on the VC right now visually, is entirely forgettable in terms of gameplay. The levels are built a lot on repetition, and the weapon upgrades are disappointing. Last week's Gate Of Thunder is the superior choice, and don't forget about Soldier Blade either.
Finally, Yoshi's Story is no reason to jump up and down repeatedly either. The stand-out feature of the game, at the time of release, was that it was a 2D game amidst a sea of 3D games. That bonus is now lost, and what remains is a simple collection fest that has all the cute looks but none of the depth of its genre peers. Super Mario World is the obvious replacement strategy, or perhaps Kirby's Adventure.

Summary: pass on all three.
For two of them, very close replacements have already been mentioned. If that doesn't appeal to you either, consider the previously released Super Metroid and Sin And Punishment if you absolutely must grab something this week.


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