Virtual Console Wrap-up – 12/14

Another week, another release of glorious retro video gaming. This week actually looks to be a strong week, as the two releases are actually pretty solid. We’ve got Blaster Master for the NES, which is an old-school favorite for many a gamer, and the Genesis version of Earthworm Jim 2, which was, at the time, an amusing and enjoyable action/platformer. Have they held up enough to be worth purchasing? Let’s take a look!

Blaster Master
Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher: Sunsoft
Original Release Date: 11/1988
Cost: 500 Wii Points

Chris Bowen: There’s been a school of thought I’ve read certain people talk about over the past few years that suggests that Blaster Master isn’t a good game. It’s not focused enough! It’s too hard! The sequels sucked!

These people are Communists.

Blaster Master is an amazing game that combines the explorative nature of Metroid with two styles of action: vehicle platforming and a 3/4 perspective. It’s great for fans that like to fumble around their games and learn how to win, the way we did in the 80s*. If you don’t mind a little exploring, and don’t mind a game that wears the “NINTENDO HARD” sticker with pride, you cannot go wrong with Blaster Master, which gets my highest recommendation for $5.

* – Unless you had Nintendo Power. That magazine was a lifesaver when it came to Blaster Master.

M.L. Kennedy: Blaster Master (NES) is awesome. At least, that is what my hazy memories of borrowing this game from Frank Maiarana twenty years ago purport to tell me. I remember driving around in a tank that could jump and shoot special homing missiles. You could also hop out of the tank to kick some 8-bit ass. It blew my nine year old mind.

The world wasn’t quite linear, either. It was kinda like Metroid. So to sum it all up –
Master Blaster : Metroid :: Metal Slug : Contra.

Alex Lucard: For five dollars this is a definite buy. It’s a fun game, it’s a classic game, and it’s a hard game.

However for me, the fact this game is out has me especially interested, for reasons other than the game itself.

You see, Sunsoft hasn’t been in North America for a while and, in fact, it wasn’t Sunsoft that brought the game over to the Virtual Console. No, it was actually Gajiunworks, aka Working Designs 2.0. Vic Ireland, the old head of Working Designs, spearheaded this and is working with Sunsoft through his new companies. This is the first of their projects together, but for me, Victor Ireland + Sunsoft = Albert Odyssey ports, which is something I really am looking forward to.

So yes, Blaster Master is a great game and I’m glad to have it on the Virtual Console, but I care more about what it means and where this is going than the game itself.

Mark B.: Blaster Master is an outright fantastic game from start to finish that was challenging in enjoyable ways and can essentially be described as Metroid and Fester’s Quest having a kid who went out and bought himself a tank. Yep. The game is essentially one part semi-non-linear side-scrolling action game and one part overhead action shooter, and even the horrible novelization of the game that I read back when I was eight doesn’t diminish how much fun the game was, and still is.

Yes, I read a novel based on Blaster Master. Shut up.

Now, in fairness, the sequels aren’t exactly stellar, and Sunsoft’s more recent games can politely be described as “the shits” (Clock Tower 3, T.R.A.G., Monsterseed, you get the point), but once upon a time the company made good games, and Blaster Master is easily one of their best. For five dollars there’s no reason not to buy and love this.

Earthworm Jim 2
Developer: Shiny Entertainment
Publisher: Playmates
Original Release Date: 1996
Cost: 800 Wii Points

Chris Bowen: When we profiled Earthworm Jim back in ’08, I was about the only person that wasn’t positive about it. I thought it was a somewhat funny game that wasn’t very good as an actual game. I will say that after playing through it again, Earthworm Jim 2 is a markedly better game than EJ1 was.

I still maintain, however, that EJ2 isn’t necessarily a *good* game. It’s a bit hard to guess where you’re supposed to be going at times, the platforming sequences can get annoying due to some spotty controls, and the graphics – while good – sometimes obscure the action unnecessarily.

However, the game is much, much funnier than the previous title in the franchise, and by this time, the cartoon had been out and established the bad guys in the game in their own light. Earthworm Jim is outstanding at taking the piss out of itself, and for that reason might be enough to purchase, even for $8.

If you like Earthworm Jim, this is a definite recommendation. If you weren’t familiar with the franchise, I’ll let the others here tell you whether it’s worth your money or not; I’m personally not a fan, but I’m also definitely in the minority here.

Alex Lucard: I’ve always liked the Earthworm Jim games for the stories and characters, but I’ve never liked the gameplay. For me, the best version of Earthworm Jim is the awesome cartoon series that still hasn’t made it to DVD yet. I’ll save my money for when that comes out. You should too.




Mark B.: Well, on one hand, Earthwork Jim 2 was a pretty enjoyable game all in all, assuming you could adjust to the odd control mechanics. It varied up the gameplay a bit from its predecessor, offering up some more wonky gameplay concepts beyond “run around and shoot everything”, and was generally a little bit better to play overall. It’s by no means the best side-scrolling platform shooter on the market, but the sense of humor on display combined with the generally acceptable gameplay makes it worth downloading if you’re looking for something a little different from the average platform shooter.

On the other hand, the game isn’t the easiest to play, as some of the mechanics will require some learning to really understand and deal with. Further, the first game, while less interesting from a mechanical standpoint, is pretty much more fun as an overall game, both because of its focused nature and because it’s more imaginative than its sequel. It’s not thatEarthworm Jim 2 isn’t GOOD so much as that it’s not as good as the first game, but it’s still a fun, hilarious and absurd little game that’s worth the eight dollar asking price.

Looks we’ve got one great game and one split decision this week, which is better than last week if nothing else. Anyway, on WiiWare this week we’ve got four releases again: Rubik’s Puzzle Gallery: RUSH for 600 points, which is a puzzle game featuring the Rubik’s Cube name, and looks amusing; Diatomic for 800 points, which appears to be a shooter akin to Asteroids on steroids; Stunt Cars for 800 points, which looks to be a trick racing game that might be fun; and Moki Moki for 800 points, which looks to be Lemmings in zero gravity.

On DSWare this week we have five new downloads: Littlest Pet Shop for 800 points, which appears to be a pet dress-up game, and is thus mildly adorable; Master of Illusion Express: Matchmaker for 200 points, which looks to be like every other Master of Illusion download for DSi, in that you’ll play it twice and then delete it; Yummy Yummy Cooking Jam for 500 points, which seems to be a cross between Cooking Mama and Cake Mania, only not as amusing as either; Bejewled Twist for 500 points, which looks to be an upgraded version of Bejewled, which will immediately determine whether you’re interested in it or not; and last (and certainly least), Miami Nights for 800 points.

A word, if I may, on Miami Nights. The original DS release, Miami Nights: Singles in the City, was an atrocious abomination that took all of the absolute worst elements of The Sims and added a bunch of horribly inane elements to THAT, making it a contender for “Worst Game of 2008” that only lost because I’m the only person who played it. This particular version of the game is designed in the same style as American Popstar: Road to Celebrity, which was also not particularly good. So basically, I’m saying DO NOT BUY THIS. Thank you for your time.

See you all next week!

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  1. Steven Kess
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