ron, Nov-23 2007

Post-drought VC Friday

Games! Two of them even!
That shouldn't be an unusual turnout for the Virtual Console, but after last week's singularity you will forgive us that we use this once more to build an introductory snippet on.

Bubble Bobble

This is the NES version of the popular stage-based 2D platformer. You control your little dragon dude through a series of single-screen levels where the recurring goal is to defeat all enemies. To do so, you encasing them in the bubbles that you can spew forth, and then burst the bubbles, which will also reveal bonus items. You can also use your own bubblage as stepping stones to reach higher platforms, or just burst them to earn some extra points. There's also a number of power-ups you can collect.
The game features a cooperative two-player mode.

King Of Fighters '94

Another one-on-one fighting game for the NeoGeo with the expected extensions of throwing, aerial combat and powerful signature moves. This one doesn't just feature a wide roster of varied fighters but also adds a significant twist: you don't control one fighter, but have to choose a team of three (different ones) up front. The remaining health is persistent between rounds, and if your first fighter goes down, the next one gets switched in, alá Pokémon. The AI (or human opponent) operates under the same rule. This is a significant addition because it rewards versatility, as opposed to perfection in controlling just one specific fighter.

Bubble Bobble is an awesome game. The concept is so simple, but thanks to greatly varied levels, it just never gets old. There is so much nuance to the controls, and of course there are special things that can only be done in specific stages (such as bursting wave bubbles and riding the resulting wave right through the enemies). The levels are nicely bite-sized, many of them can be completed in literally half a minute if you want to, so it changes quickly. Very much recommended.
Given a free choice, we would prefer the Amiga version, or maybe the Master System version, but really, the NES version looks (and, more importantly, plays) just fine. There's no need to hold off.

King Of Fighters '94 is well worth a look. It's balanced well, and has enough own ideas to shake off the "Street Fighter 2 clone" stigma that many 2D fighters suffer from. The party-of-three thing in particular really mixes up the way players approach the game, and for the better. The fantastic graphics help, too.
Recommended, while the usual caveat applies: one-on-one fighters do not deliver satisfying single-player campaigns. They exist for the competitive multiplayer mode, and the single-player stuff is a mere training tool.

Summary: Bubble Bobble is great. Great is Bubble Bobble.
King Of Fighters '94 is a great game, too, but in a niche interest genre.


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