ron, Jan-11 2008

Accelerating VC Friday

After leaving all of Europe hanging for two weeks, Nintendo gets somewhat closer to old shape by releasing two Virtual Console games on this fine Friday. If developments continue on this trajectory, early next year we could be getting 54 releases per week. Well, it is quite the if.

Startropics

This top-down action adventure for the NES puts players in a boy's shoes who explores the caves and dungeons strewn around a huge tropical setting, armed only with his surprisingly lethal combat yoyo. The game frequently evokes comparisons to The Legend Of Zelda, which is not all that unfitting really. The big difference, and the core of Startropics' own identity is the player character's ability to jump. This can be used to dodge enemies (or bullets fired by enemies), and many many puzzles and traversal challenges are built around it. The setting is also slightly less fantasy and a bit more modern/cartoony, and there is a bit more interaction with townsfolk.
Otherwise there are indeed conceptual similarities, such as the upgradeable health system, bonus weapons, faintly non-linear structure, strong focus on combat, many challenging boss battles and the overall eerie underground athmosphere.

Alien Storm

This is a Megadrive mass brawler coated thick in alien-invasion/trash sci-fi themes. The game plays like any Golden Axe with a few sprites swapped out. You're wielding a (short-range) flamethrower instead of an axe or sword, and you're fighting aliens instead of skeletons and imps.
The side-scrolling brawler stages are topped off with (short) first-person shooting galleries where you can collect lots of bonuses blasting scenery objects while fending off yet more aliens and trying to avoid hitting civilians.


Alien Storm is a solid, simple game that doesn't do anything particularly well, but is an acceptable distraction for an afternoon, especially in co-op.
Startropics on the other hand deserves much more attention. Brushing it aside as a Zelda clone would be a great injustice as, despite being comparable, the game has a clear own identity and gameplay style, which lead into a rewarding, distinct experience. It's also pretty substantial.

Summary: Startropics yes please, Alien Storm eh not really.

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