ron, Aug-08 2008

Throbbing VC Friday

Oh wow, one of those bi-weekly not-WiiWare Fridays. Let's see which fine products Nintendo has poured onto the Wii Shop channel for our delectation today.

Ecco Jr

Another spin on Sega's aquatic dolphin adventures for the Megadrive. Hard to imagine as it may be, the game is even simpler and more straightforward. You swim around and collect items. They game is now almost purely about exploration, as all elements of risk have been removed.

Pitstop II

An F1 racing game for the C64 that presents the tracks in a crude sort of 3D. You can race against computer enemies, or against a human opponent in split-screen mode.

Samurai Shodown II

A one-on-one fighter for the NeoGeo. Beyond the first game, Samurai Shodown II offers not just the expected roster update but also adds new evasive techniques, new combos and new special moves to all (old and new) characters. As the first Samurai Shodown, all fighters wield a signature weapon and can perform a host of different melee combos and ranged attacks. The game is relatively fast, with large arenas, so the distance between the two combatants can be quite dynamic, supporting many different styles of offense and defense. The camera zooms in and out automatically to frame it all, which is a great way to enable the large arenas without compromising graphics detail at close range.

Splatter House 2

A goretastic side-scrolling brawler for the Megadrive. Your dude punches and kicks his way through opposing pieces of flesh of various colors and best-befores. You can also pick up weapons and jump over the occasional deadly pit. The game plays strictly in 2D, with no depth movement (as in, say, Final Fight). Most of the challenge is simply reacting quickly to an enemy that comes flying your way.

Samurai Shodown II tops its predecessor in terms of balance, depth and differentiation between fighters, and offers impressive graphics and audio to boot. It instantly lands somewhere in the top five fighting games on the VC and is well worth a shot to anyone with even a mild interest in the genre. Having human opponents available is recommended though, as always.

Splatter House 2 is still a simpleton game that rides mostly on its hurr-hurr-gore factor, but the underlying game is improved enough to be an overall tolerable experience. Roughly 150% better than Altered Beast but still no Streets Of Rage, if that makes sense.

Pitstop II is awful. The idea of a 3D track rendered in real time by a C64 might seem impressive, but there really isn't any detail involved. It's just a pair of lines, outside it's green, and inside it's grey. Awful. Coupled with digital controls and the worst possible collision physics you can imagine, this one is 100% safe to ignore.
Ecco Jr is an insult to gaming. Where the "real" Ecco games are already of questionable quality, Ecco Jr is another one of those barely interactive software products that defy even the most basic requirements of the medium. It's a screen saver gone wrong. Stay far, far away.

Summary: Samurai Shodown II, if anything at all. Splatter House 2 possibly, as a willful act of self-deprecation. And then nothing.


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