Nintendo Download Wrap-Up for March 8th, 2010

Under normal circumstances, we would at least have a large-name Virtual Console release this week, notable for it’s name and it’s supposed rarity. At least the name – a big one – got heads to turn. However, a closer inspection shows that the VC update is just like the rest of this week’s Nintendo update: weak, and maybe a bit disingenuous.

As usual, we’ll start with the Virtual Console:

Final Fantasy II (AKA: Final Fantasy IV Easytype)
Developer: Square Soft
Publisher: Square Soft
Original System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Original Release Date: November 23, 1991
Price: 800 Wii Points/$8

Ashe Collins: Ugh. Well I suppose if you don’t already have Final Fantasy II, or IV, or whichever the hell version this one is already on one of the bazillion of compilation disks and re-releases on every platform out there known to man, this might appeal. Me I’ll take a pass. Especially with a new Final Fantasy hitting the streets this week.

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Sean Madson: I can’t believe they’re still going to call it Final Fantasy II after the wave of confusion they caused the first time. I mean, I understand that was the title when they first released it on SNES, but still…

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Mark B: On one hand, Final Fantasy IV (and just because Square-Enix are too lazy to update the title image on their SNES ROM doesn’t mean we should enable them) is a perfectly good RPG. It features a solid story, a strong combat system, and a good amount of depth. It is, in the simplest sense of things, a good game, and it’s one of the best Final Fantasy titles ever made.

Fine.

On the other hand, however, this game is not Suikoden II or Persona 2. If you wanted to play the game by this point, you have numerous platforms on which you may play it, and many of them are not terribly expensive. While the SNES game specifically is fairly expensive in its physical incarnation, the PS1 release is reasonably priced and not hard to find, and there’s a DS version of the game for you if you’re specifically interested in owning the game on a Nintendo platform. If you somehow only have the Wii available to you, Final Fantasy IV is a fine game to download, and if you’ve managed to miss the game up to this point, this is probably the cheapest version of it you’re going to find, but it’s not exactly an amazing, hard-to-find release or anything.

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Christopher Bowen: A wisecracking, anthropomorphic bird once said it best: “I guess I should be thankful…”

First off, to clear up the confusion: this is really Final Fantasy IV, which has been spammed on a lot of systems. Not to be confused with the actual Final Fantasy II, which has been spammed on EVERY system I can think of, including the iPhone. It’s true that FFIV is a better game, but this isn’t even a good version: it’s the original US version, with it’s poor translation and pedestrian difficulty all intact.

Why, after going through all the trouble of remaking this game – very well, might I add – for the Nintendo DS, Squeenix would release this for the VC is beyond me. For the benefit of the six people still curious about it? For completionists? Or, is this a cynical, naked marketing ploy, at best to “appease” people that don’t own the PS3 or 360 – and therefore can’t buy Final Fantasy XIII – or at worst to keep the brand “name” out there? I obviously think it’s the latter, which is part for the course when it comes to Square-Enix.

Therefore, we have a Virtual Console release for absolutely no one. Casual gamers don’t want RPGs in general. Completionists not only still have their FFII cartridges from ’91, they also have the Super Famicom version, the Playstation remake, the Nintendo DS remake, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, and a cosplay costume of Adult Rydia that they wear to conventions (bonus points if they’re male). People who only own a Wii are casual gamers, which brings me back to point one. And people that weren’t interested in Final Fantasy, but are curious about it due to the release of FFXIII should be able to make informed, conscious decisions about the brand, and therefore, would know – if they own a DS – to get that version.

Squeenix releasing this game on the VC when it does is for one reason, and one reason only: to swindle uninformed casual gamers who haven’t heard of Google into making an impulse purchase that doesn’t benefit them. Stay away from this, and pick up one of the other versions.

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The WiiWare releases are both high in cost, but only one of them has a chance of justifying the cost. Last month, Alex Lucard reviewed a PSP minis title called Dracula – Undead Awakening, which got a very good write-up for being a fun little shooter, put out by a good publisher in Chillingo. Nintendo has released two different versions of this game today, for both the WiiWare AND the DSiWare. Of course, the DSiWare version’s price matches that of the PSP title – $5 – but the WiiWare version is $10. Quote Alex Lucard: “The WiiWare version is crazy priced, but the DSi one is just right.” If you have both the DSi and WiiWare, get the DSi version. If you have a PSP, you can get that version too.

Or, if you have an iPhone, you can get it for $3 instead. I seem to be saying that once a week, at least.

Also out is Max & the Magic Marker, which pits you as a child who got a magical marker in the mail, and proceeded to draw a scary purple monster called Mustacho, which became real, jumped into your other drawings, and is wrecking havoc, so you have to jump in and help out, with the help of your marker – the stylus – which is used to assist. This title looks really impressive to me, as it combines the gameplay elements of Kirby: Canvas Curse with the imaginative, open-ended nature of Scribblenauts, but without the latter title’s marketing budget. It’s a $10 title, but I’m actually going to give a tentative recommendation to fans of platform and puzzle titles to this, as, assuming the gameplay holds up, it looks highly enjoyable. This would be a good time to have demos of your games, Nintendo!

At least the DSiWare has a few more titles to choose from. Flips: The Bubonic Builders is another interactive book from the same people that brought last week’s Flips: Terror in Cubicle Four; it is also $5. 4 TRAVELLERS – Play Spanish looks to be a board game intended to teach Spanish for $8. It looks OK, but someone serious about learning Spanish should probably just go out and invest in Ubisoft’s outstanding My Spanish Coach instead. Finally, Elemental Masters is a Trading Card Game, much like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon: Trading Card Game and Eye of Judgement. At $8, it’s at least a more affordable option, even if it seems barebones in comparison to those deeper titles.

Overall, this is a pretty weak update. Dracula is a good game for those that have a DSi, and Max & the Magic Marker looks genuinely top-shelf, but other than that, nothing really stands out, except Final Fantasy Whatever They’re Calling It Today, which stands out for the wrong reasons. Until next time, this is Christopher Bowen, who will now go back to cursing at Demon’s Souls.

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