ron, Feb-15 2008

Thriftwood VC Friday

The Wii Shop Channel's one-game syndrome seems to have been cured. This week we are presented with two new Virtual Console releases. Cheering may not be the correct reaction though.

Eternal Champions

This is your standard fare one-on-one fighting game, originally for the Megadrive. Punch, block, throw and kick your enemies to bits. You can either shove your chosen fighter through a sequence of such fights that postures as a single-player campaign, or compete against a second human player.

Phantasy Star II

This is one of Sega's early attempts at role-playing games, again for the Megadrive. You control your party of adventurers in a top-down perspective, explore towns, chat and trade with NPCs, and then subject yourself to a massive outside world and dungeons full of random encounters. Loot and experience points help your characters learn new skills and outgrow the monsters. The game is themed in a peculiar swords-and-magic style in the future.

Nobody needs Eternal Champion, not now, and not back when it was new. Sure, the multi-layered animated background graphics are amazing, but all the Sega cheese-writing in the world won't cover up the limited gameplay options and half-done balance. We recommend you stick to a King Of Fighters or Street Fighter II variant of your choosing instead.
Phantasy Star II would make a fine example for an as-of-yet unwritten essay titled "Software products engineered to resemble videogames". It appears to have all the ingredients that are found in competing console RPGs that are actually good, so rationally one would expect it to work just as well. But it doesn't. Nothing in the game is particularly well thought out, be it the terrible control interface, lack of access to critical equipment stats or its cheeseball encounter designs. When its contemporaries were designing great RPGs with high playability, interesting progression and meaningful combat options, Sega, as usual, focused all effort on character design and writing. And as usual, the forest got missed for the trees. Stay away.

Summary: oh no. No, no, no.


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