ron, Dec-14 2007

Transferable VC Friday

After rolling out the "gifting" feature on Tuesday, Nintendo just released some fresh ammo for it onto the Wii Shop Channel: two new Virtual Console games, plus the odd release earlier this week, makes three.

Pokémon Snap

An N64 fan-service oddity that has you photograph various creatures while you're riding through a number of environments. After each ride, your photos are scored in accordance to how well you framed the creatures and some other factors, and if your total is good enough, you can select a few more environments to ride through. You can also use items to lure them to certain spots or affect their behaviour.
Just to be clear: there is no catching, training, fighting, questing or whatever else you would usually expect from a game in this particular franchise.

Megaman 2

This NES action platformer carries forth all virtues of the first Megaman game: you control your robot character through a number of themed stages full of devious platforming challenges and enemies. At the end of each stage waits a boss whose weapon (or special ability) you can add to your own arsenal to make other stages easier to beat. Such special weapons have limited ammo, unlike the default arm cannon, which means you have to be a bit strategic about their use. Even though some bosses have weaknesses against certain weapons, the game does not force a fixed order. You can pick your next stage, and with it the next weapon you (attempt to) acquire, at will.
Megaman 2 adds a difficulty selection to the formula, but is otherwise mainly a new set of levels and bosses to beat.

Top Hunter

A side-scrolling NeoGeo action game with mild platforming and puzzling but mostly combat, combat, combat. Melee combat usually, but there are also upgrades and vehicles. The game also features a dual-plane feature that allows you (and enemies) to switch in and out of a second background layer in specific places of the level, either to dodge attacks or maneuver around obstacles.

Top Hunter is exactly what the doctor ordered. The brawly combat isn't overly complex, but the layer twist is a welcome diversion, and there are so many enemies coming your way that you will have to pay close attention at all times to do well. Developer SNK's Metal Slug pedigree shows through in many ways, namely creativity, variety, sheer graphical quality, and great gameplay balance, but the environments are much more colorful and stylized here than in the predominantly grey and brown warzones of Metal Slug. Strong buy.

Megaman 2 is arguably the best game in the mainline Megaman series (not necessarily franchise), and it would seem so because it was built in a point in time where the idea was still fresh and not so walled in by the expectations of a large established fan-base. Megaman 2 is an impressive leap forward over Megaman 1 in both graphics and sound, and most importantly it's easier to get into because it got rid of the more insane instant-death platforming challenges, and because it has a difficulty selection. Buy.

Pokémon Snap is a very short, very easy game that appears to be built for very young fans of the popular franchise that just want to look at their favourites animated in 3D. Compared to the gameplay depth of the main Pokémon games, Snap is a disappointing, hollow experience. Ignore.

Summary: Top Hunter is excellent. Megaman 2 is a close second recommendation, and a great starting point to get into the series. Stay away from Pokémon Snap.


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