ron, Feb-22 2008

Antique VC Friday

This week's Friday saw the release of two new Virtual Console games on the Wii's Shop Channel. The drought is over, and we're transitioning seamlessly into a scarcity.

Street Gangs

Also known as River City Ransom

This NES game is an early, yet fully developed side-scrolling brawler, where the player fights his way through numerous thuggish enemies with fists, feet and weapons. The player can dodge or sprint, and there are even throws. If you play in co-op, you can even pick up your partner and slap your enemies with him.
The gameworld is somewhat non-linear with branching paths, back-tracking and a certain order of events that must be followed to progress. The combat against minor enemies is also optional. This is what separates Street Gangs from most other brawlers.

Adventure Island

This is the NES predecessor of a game that was already released for Virtual Console: New Adventure Island.
The player controls the hero through 2D platforming obstacle courses (pits, rocks, fires, spikes, snakes, the whole program) where a strict time limit is enforced by a constantly dwindling energy meter. The player must keep this energy meter filled by collecting fruit that pop up all over the place.
The player can collect a throwing axe and use that as a weapon, and there's a skateboard that will make the game move even faster than it already does.

Adventure Island's levels are different, so it's not the same game exactly, but its mechanics and style are the exact same thing. It's a fine game, but it's inferior to New Adventure Island in every measurable way. If it appeals to you, grab the more polished, more beautiful TurboGrafx sequel in its stead.
Street Gangs/River City Ransom's combat offers surprising finesse for an 8-bit action game, and its gameplay holds up very well as a result. It's a bit short on content, as all brawlers are, and the character graphics are crude, even for NES standards, but if you can get over these two things, it's well worth a shot. The (limited) exploration aspect of it still makes it unique, even among the more modern brawler competition that we already have access to on the Virtual Console. Recommended.

Summary: Street Gangs is worth it. Adventure Island is probably not.


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