ron, Dec-07 2007

Chocolate-coated VC Friday

If you brush away yesterday's piles of chocolate and fruit, and fruit with chocolate inside, we hope you find your Wii relatively unstained for this Friday's round of new Virtual Console games.

Cybernator

This SNES sci-fi action spectacle is a blend between elements of shmups and more traditional action platformers (though all weapons are ranged). Even in the more pure platforming levels, you can use the thrusters of your main dude's huge armor suit to float around, but there still is gravity, and you can stop or go back a bit. Then there are some stages that follow the ground-rules of the shmup, i.e. there's no gravity, and the stage scrolls forward automatically, and then there are in-betweens.
Another unique element of the game is that the aiming of some of the upgradable weapons is not constrained to cardinal directions and diagonals, but can be adjusted in finer angular increments. Also, for better or worse, the game integrates a lot of dialog (radio chatter with your home base) into the flow of the levels.

Light Crusader

An isometric action RPG for the Megadrive. You heroize a fantasy setting with your sword while solving puzzles and lots of platforming challenges and regularly face off against humungous bosses. Even though the combat and character growth mechanics are simple, we class it as an action RPG because it features a proper inventory and a flexible magic system where any number of basic elemental spells can be plugged together to form more specific spell effects.

Rolling Thunder 2

This is a basic 2D action platformer for the Megadrive, taking place in what must be a programmer's vision of a modern-day industrial setting. You control this dude who shoots other dudes with his gun, while dodging and ducking under the shots that are coming back at him. Doors play a big role in all of these occurances, because enemies come out of them, but your guy can also enter some of them to refill his limited ammo or gain a few extra-powerful shots.
The platforming is mostly limited to hopping back and forth between the ground level and a higher secondary level.


Cybernator is fantastic, both as a ride and as a game. Almost everything about it reeks of quality, and the one thing that stands out is the story integration. The writing is no problem, as you can just take it or leave it, but the bleep-bleep noises that stand in for the voices are really loud and annoying. If you think that's something you can ignore, we recommend this game to you, no matter who you are. It has a voluminous, refillable health bar, so it will forgive you a great many small mistakes, and even so it takes a while for it to ramp up in difficulty. Thus you should find it to be very playable, even if you don't usually play these … sci-fi action somethings. It's not exactly a constant formula. But actually that's just another thing that adds to its quality.

We can make Light Crusader a cautious recommendation for those who enjoyed Zelda or other similar games (Landstalker is the closest one actually). Its focus lies on platforming and puzzles, and it has a nicely fleshed out world (people included), and if you are willing to accept a mashy approach to combat in exchange for these strong points, Light Crusader will suit you well.

Rolling Thunder 2 is not so exciting. It is a far better game than Rolling Thunder 1, mind you, the respawning of enemies is toned down to acceptable levels, there are more different types of enemies and the aesthetics are greatly improved. That still doesn't cover up that it's a primitive gameplay concept stretched out over too many repetitions. It looks and feels like Elevator Action without elevators, and not in a good way.

Summary: Cybernator, quite clearly. Light Crusader only if you need another action RPGish thing and already played all the best ones (Zelda: A Link To The Past, Landstalker, Neutopia 2). Skip Rolling Thunder 2.

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