Retrograding 05.14.2008

On Monday, I went to download my first game from the newly launched Wii Ware line of games. For those unaware, these are original downloadable titles for the Wii rather than the re-released retro titles on the virtual console.

Imagine my surprise when I received a notification that my entire Wii hard drive was full! It turns out I completely filled the game with virtual console games – 35 of them to be exact.

This was both amusing and frustrating to me. I never would have guessed that I would will up my Wii in a little over a year of owning it. My Xbox hard drive was pretty empty, and my 60 Gig PS3 has R-Types, Q-Bert and Puzzle Fighter. My Wii though? Chock full of over $200 of VC purchases. At the same time, how sad is that the Wii can hold that paltry amount of games? Even worse is the fact that you have to do some creative management with the SD card in a way that in both inconvienient and poorly thought out.

For example, in order to get Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, I had to copy King of Fighters ’94, which was my largest game memory-wise onto the SD card. Then I had to delete the game from the Wii’s internal memory. Both the copying and the deleting took some time. Then I had to download the new FFCC game, which again took some time. Now if I ever want to play KoF ’94 again, and we all know I will, I have to do the following steps.

1. Copy a game from the Wii memory to the SD card.
2. Wait for copy to finish.
3. Delete original game from the Wii memory.
4. Wait to finish.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 until there is enough room with the Wii memory in order to move over KoF 94.
6. Copy KoF 94 from the SD card to the Wii Memory.
7. Play the game.

That is a pretty intensive and time consuming process. I am still flabbergasted that the Wii can’t play games directly from the SD card. You would think that the Wii system updates would have covered this by now, but of course they haven’t. The Virtual Console and Wii internal memory were great ideas on their own, but it’s obvious that no one in the design team thought about how they would work TOGETHER.

At the same time, this really won’t be a problem for the VAST majority of Wii owners. According to Nintendo (as of a press release marked 02/06/2008), there have been ten million VC games downloaded worldwide. Sounds impressive, right? Not really. There have been 24.5 million Wii’s sold worldwide. That’s a hair over 0.4 games per Wii. Obviously space constraints are not going to be an issue here.

As well, you can always delete previously purchased titles completely from your system and download them again at a later date for no charge. This is a nice little deal, but again it adds a lot more time to the equation than just sitting down and playing a damn game. I’d love to see this issue resolved in the future with either a Wii internal memory add on (there are those USB ports in the back after all), or a Wii system update to allow the SD card saves to be played by the Wii.

Now let’s take a look at the games that filled my VC. I’ll be honest and several of them were crazy “OH MY FUCKING GOD! Look at all the shoot ’em up’s I can download! I’ve never played this one! Let’s get it! Whoooo!” In fact 9 of my 35 games are shooters. That’s more than a fourth.

Here’s the breakdown by system:

NES: 12
SNES: 1
TG-16: 12
Genesis: 4
Neo-Geo: 3
N64: 3

I was a bit surprised by the Genesis numbers but then, most of the games for the Genesis downloads are games I either already own or have in compilations like the Sega Smash pack or Sega Genesis Collection. With the Neo Geo, they’ve only released 8 titles, and every single one I already own for my actual Neo*Geo save for Baseball Stars 2. The other two were purchases just to support SNK.

As for the single SNES game…well, the SNES is probably the most over-rated system in the history of gaming. It was easily the worst of the three sixteen bit system in terms of RPG’s and Shoot ’em ups, which are two of the three genres I adore. As for the third, which are 2-D fighters, the SNES was well known to be inferior to the Genesis for these games, ESPECIALLY due to the controller designs. So when you look at the SNES selection you have a lot of inferior games for the VC along with first party Nintendo titles I’ve never cared for like the LoZ and Mario franchises. That left me a single game for the system I wanted to support. Sorry SNES fans, but in terms of ration of quality titles to crap titles, the SNES comes in dead last for its generation. Now, let’s look at these games.

NES PURCHASES
Adventures of LOLO
Original Release Date: 04/1989
VC Release Date: 08/06/2007
Genre: Puzzle
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? Oh my god, yes. This is easily my favorite game by HAL, and it still holds the test of time.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
Original Release Date: 11/1988
VC Release Date: 10/29/2007
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? Unless you are a CV fan, probably not. There were some translation errors with the game that give you erroneous information on what to do. This will probably vex most gamers unless they use online help or have an ancient issue of Nintendo Power lying around. Personally I bought it simply for, “What a horrible night to have a curse.”

Gradius
Original Release Date: 12/1986
VC Release Date: 01/08/2007
Genre: Shooter
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? IT’S GRADIUS! Of course it is. This game still remains one of the best shooters of all time, and it’s the gave that gave us the Konami Code.

Ninja Gaiden
Original Release Date: 03/1989
VC Release Date: 05/14/2007
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? One of the hardest and best video games ever released on the NES, and probably the best plot for any game as well.

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Original Release Date: 05/1990
VC Release Date: 10/15/2007
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? I actual prefer this to the original. I feel it cleaned up a lot of the issues the previous game had and I liked the boss battles more. Ending was a little clich├ęd and weak though.

Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Original Release Date: 08/1991
VC Release Date: 02/18/2008
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? This is the game that killed the series for a few generations, so probably not. I got it simply to complete the trilogy. I know, I know. I’m a completist.

Punch Out
Original Release Date: 08/1990
VC Release Date: 04/16/2007
Genre: Sports
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? Well, I’d prefer it to have “Iron” Mike Tyson, but for legal reasons, Nintendo can’t re-release that one. Still, this is one of the all-time greats.

River City Ransom
Original Release Date: 10/1989
VC Release Date: 04/21/2008
Genre: Beat ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? This is my favorite game for the NES, so yes. Purge yourselves of the horrible GBA remake.

StarTropics
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 01/07/2008
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? Oh fuck no. Awful game through and through. Either it hasn’t aged well, or people were on crack when they called this a quality title nearly two decades ago. Second biggest regret on the system and really, I only bought it to see how they were going to do the letter that game with the game that you needed to beat the game.

Super Mario Bros 3
Original Release Date: 02/12/1990
VC Release Date: 11/05/2007
Genre: Platformer
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? The best Mario game ever made, and the only one I can honestly say I like. For five bucks, this is a steal.

Tecmo Bowl
Original Release Date: 02/1989
VC Release Date: 03/12/2007
Genre: Sports
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? My second favorite game ever for the NES. I still have more fun with Tecmo Bowl then any Madden title. Fuck you EA for not allowing Tecmo to use team names and old retired players.

Yoshi’s Cookie
Original Release Date: 12/1992
VC Release Date: 04/07/2008
Genre: Puzzle
Wii Point Cost: 500
Worth Buying? This is a remake of the old Game Boy version of the game (Yes, the GB B&W version came first), but I love this puzzle game, so I had to get it.

SNES PURCHASES
Actraiser
Original Release Date: 11/1991
VC Release Date: 05/28/2007
Genre: Puzzle
Wii Point Cost: 800
Worth Buying? Arguably the best game Squaresoft ever put out, and it is equally arguable that this is the best title on the SNES. This is a definite purchase here.

SEGA GENESIS PURCHASES
Eternal Champions
Original Release Date: 1993
VC Release Date: 12/03/2007
Genre: 2-D Fighter
Wii Point Cost: 800
Worth Buying? Easily the best fighting game on the Sega Genesis and one of the ten best fighting games ever made. It’s a shame there isn’t a Sega Genesis/Sega Saturn layout controller for the Wii instead of the crappy SNES controller. Trident rules!

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention
Original Release Date: 03/19/1992
VC Release Date: 07/23/2007
Genre: Tactical RPG
Wii Point Cost: 800
Worth Buying? Why…why do you not own this already? If there is one game you should have downloaded to your WII – THIS IS IT. My God people, stop reading this article AND GET THIS GAME.

Shining in the Darkness
Original Release Date: 03/28/1991
VC Release Date: 08/13/2007
Genre: Turn based RPG
Wii Point Cost: 800
Worth Buying? This is one of the better first person RPG’s out there. I personally think the title is cute and worth buying, but it’s a very different style of gameplay than most RPG’s you’ll encounter. As a Shining force fanboy though, this is one I heartily recommend over the other RPG’s for download besides Shining Force and Sword of Vermillion.

Space Harrier II
Original Release Date: 1989
VC Release Date: 12/18/2006
Genre: Shoot em Up
Wii Point Cost: 800
Worth Buying? Oh my yes. It’s one of the first games ever made for the Sega Genesis and it still holds up better than most. Lovely little shooter that I was pleased to see get props in the Sega Superstars Tennis game.

TURBO-GRAFIX 16 PURCHASES
Alien Crush
Original Release Date: 1989
VC Release Date: 12/11/2006
Genre: Pinball
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? One of the five best virtual pinball games ever made. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and it still hold up. WiiWare is getting a remake, but why not buy BOTH?

Bonk’s Adventure
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 11/21/2006
Genre: Platformer
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? This is my favorite platformer of all time. Wii owners seem to agree with me as Bonk’s Adventure is THE most downloaded title on the Virtual Console. JOIN US!

Devil’s Crush
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 07/23/2007
Genre: Pinball
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? The SECOND greatest pinball game ever made. It’s six bucks. DC and Bonk’s are the two titles that were system sellers for the Turbo Grafx. Come see why.

Dragon Spirit
Original Release Date: 1989
VC Release Date: 07/02/2007
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? Meh. It’s okay. This was during my aforementioned “I’ll try to get every shooter I can on the VC” phase. Probably only of interest to other shooter fans.

Drop Off
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 07/30/2007
Genre: Puzzle
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? FUCK NO. Worst purchase I have made on the VC. Horrid playing little puzzle game. I was an idiot for getting this, but I was in a puzzle mood that day.

Ninja Spirit
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 07/30/2007
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? One of Irem’s better non R-Type games. If you like Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi, this is worth a buy.

Ordyne
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 05/07/2007
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? Honestly, as a single player game, it’s not that great. But it’s the best two player co-op shooter on the VC right now. My friend Dan and I played the hell out of this when I first downloaded it.

Psychosis
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 02/25/2008
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? I’ve always liked this one. It’s not as hard as most other shooters, making it a great way to cut your eye teeth on the genre. The plot is pretty far out and it’s the most surreal shooter I can think of.

R-Type
Original Release Date: 1989
VC Release Date: 12/25/2006
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 800
Worth Buying? I was SO worried that we would be saddled with the NES or Genesis version. The TG-16 is easily the best version of the original R-Type. It’s graphics, sound and controls are light years ahead of anything else. My god, compare this to the two SNES R-Type games you can download from the VC and you will be given all the proof you need that the SNES sucked dick for shooters while the TG-16 was probably the best ever system for the genre. The TG-16 R-Type was the game that coined the phrase “Arcade Perfect,” which is no doubt why the game costs 200 points more than other TG-16 titles.

Soldier Blade
Original Release Date: 1992
VC Release Date: 01/08/2007
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? Easily the best shooter Hudson ever made. This is another amazing download worth your cash.

Splatterhouse
Original Release Date: 1990
VC Release Date: 03/19/2007
Genre: Survival Horror
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? When I finally bought my Wii, this was the first game I downloaded. I love this title, but the pace and difficulty make it not for everyone. The best of the first generation of survival horror games.

Super Star Soldier
Original Release Date: 1991
VC Release Date: 11/28/2006
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Wii Point Cost: 600
Worth Buying? An enjoyable shooter that lacks things like smart bombs checkpoints or respawning. Pretty vicious little game. I really miss the Soldier franchise. Good thing it’s coming back on the Wii Ware!

NEO GEO PURCHASES

Baseball Stars 2
Original Release Date: 04/28/1992
VC Release Date: 12/10/2007
Genre: Sports
Wii Point Cost: 900
Worth Buying? Well, the FIRST Baseball Stars for the NES is the greatest baseball game ever made. This one is still a fun arcade style baseball game though. Is it worth 9 bucks? Yes! It’s beautiful and funny and it plays better than most modern baseball games.

King of Fighters ’94
Original Release Date: 10/01/1994
VC Release Date: 01/07/2008
Genre: 2-D Fighter
Wii Point Cost: 900
Worth Buying? If you have to ask then you must be new to Diehard Gamefan and especially myself. Hi. I am Alexander Lucard. Take a good long look at my character art.

Magician Lord
Original Release Date: 07/01/1991
VC Release Date: 10/29/2007
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 900
Worth Buying? Really nice looking but insanely difficult side scroller. I like the game, but it will frustrate the hell out of most gamers.

NINTENDO 64 PURCHASES

Pokemon Puzzle League
Original Release Date: 09/01/2000
VC Release Date: 05/05/2008
Genre: Action
Wii Point Cost: 1000
Worth Buying? It’s considered the best version of Panel De Pon ever made, mainly due to the all new 3-D version of the game. It’s also the only game to have the full anime voice cast. This is easily the best puzzle game on the VC. Also, this is the only title I have published in the US in the 21st Century.

Pokemon Snap
Original Release Date: 06/30/1999
VC Release Date: 12/10/2007
Genre: Simulation
Wii Point Cost: 1000
Worth Buying? Depends. I love it. It’s the first non RPG Pokemon Spin off with amazing graphics and it’s exceptionally cute. I love taking pictures of all the wacky Pokemon antics, but some gamers might find it too juvenile. What is worth noting is that this is the only VC game to be updated for the Wii. You can take your favorite photos and put them in your Wii’s Photo Album, and you can even mail them to friends, even if they don’t have Pokemon Snap on their VC. This feature alone makes it a sure fire buy.

Sin and Punishment
Original Release Date: NEVER RELEASED IN THE US
VC Release Date: 10/1/2007
Genre: Shoot ’em Up
Wii Point Cost: 1200
Worth Buying? Well it won our 2007 “Best Downloadable title” award, that should tell you something. It’s a treasure game. That should tell you something else. Finally, Treasure even updated this title with some English translations for you. It’s the most expensive game on the VC, but definitely worth the asking price.

Man. That’s it? That’s all I have room for? I still need to download the Streets of Rage Trilogy, Blazing Lazers and so many more titles. Damn you limited space! Damn you for this now love-hate relationship with the Virtual Console that thou hast given me.

Until next time kids, you can find me in the review section.

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