We’ve had a great few weeks of Virtual Console updates lately, which is a bit surprising considering Nintendo’s past history with the platform. I have half a mind to just sit back, ride the wave, and be thankful for what we get, because the past few weeks have been a blissful cornucopia of awesome, classic games that have stood the test of time.
Will this week continue the trend? Let’s take a look at another two-game week:
Gradius II: Gofer no Yabo
System: PC Engine Super CD
Original Release Date (JPN): March 24, 1988
Price: 900 Wii Points
Alexander Lucard: I love the Gradius series. Gradius II is a fun little game but it’s also the worst of the series (I feel V is the the best), a little pricer because it’s a Wii import game, AND it’s already available on the Gradius Collection for the PSP. Of course to further show my love for Gradius and shooters in generally, it was this compilation that I bought my PSP for in the first place. Well that and Dracula X Chronicles. Thanks Konami!
Here’s the thing though. Although Gradius II is the weakest in the series, the version the VC is getting is a port of the Turbo Duo version, meaning it is the closest to arcade perfect as you can get. Indeed, GII on the Turbo Duo (Or PC Engine Super CD if you prefer that name) was the first game to truly be considered “Arcade Perfect” a feat that wouldn’t happen again until the Sega Saturn version of X-Men vs Street Fighter.
So the irony here is that Gradius II is the worst in the series, but this version is better then the SNES and NES versions of Gradius I and III currently on the Virtual Console.
My recommendation is to just get the PSP version if you can find it and you own a PSP. It’s 19.99 for a half dozen or so Gradius games instead of $9 for one. Otherwise this isn’t a half bad purchase if you want an arcade quality shoot ’em up.
Nathan Birch: Gradius is probably my favourite shmup series, as it hits right balance of being challenging without causing outright insanity. I’ve only dabbled with this one on a borrowed PSP, but it seemed suitably Gradius-ey. Downloading it for the Wii seems like the most straightforward way to play the game on your TV set (although perhaps not the cheapest) so I’d go for it.
Aileen Coe: Gradius II is significant in many ways. It’s the first to have a plot (not that people play shmups for story, but hey) and established some staples that would recur throughout the series. As Alex mentioned, the PSP collection would be a better deal, since you’d be spending less per game and have all the Gradius goodness you can ever want in one portable package. But if you don’t have a PSP (or if you prefer to play on a large TV), this could be worth the points.
Christopher Bowen: Maybe it’s the forbidden fruit factor, and the dubious things I had to do as a kid to play the Famicom version of this game. Maybe it’s rose coloured glasses. Maybe it’s the freakin’ awesome first level (see picture). Whatever it is, unlike Alex, I happen to prefer Gradius II to most of the other games in this series. I think it’s a great addition to the series, and this is a near perfect port.
Unfortunately, there’s a “but” coming, and as most everyone else has stated, this game is available on the PSP’s Gradius Collection. So if you own a PSP, stop reading this, and pick up a fantastic collection that caused me to close the deal in buying my own PSP, like Alex. But if you don’t own a PSP and like hard shooters, I can recommend Gradius II.
Digital Champ Battle Boxing
Developer: Naxat Soft
Publisher: Naxat Soft
System: PC Engine
Original Release Date (JPN): October 13, 1989
Price: 700 Wii Points
Alexander Lucard: It looked great when it first came out, and man, it still holds up well visually, but it played pretty poorly. The AI is non-existent meaning there’s no real challenge to the game. I think I spent more time with Buster Douglas Boxing.
Nathan Birch: There have only ever been 2 boxing games worth playing. Punch-Out, and Super Punch-Out; anything else is sorely disappointing compared to the good shit.
Aileen Coe: Meh. If you’re really craving 2-D boxing action, you’re probably better off sticking with the Punch-Out series or even giving Wade Hixton’s Counter Punch a whirl.
Christopher Bowen: Did you like China Warrior? Well, first off, if you did, you need to get your head checked. But if somehow you did, then you’ll like Digital Champ, another game that has great (for it’s time) graphics, to go with poor gameplay. It’s basically nothing more than a button masher with some good presentation, and the control and hit detection are so poor that I can’t recommend this game to anyone. As for what I could go for on the VC, while everyone screams “PUNCH OUT!” like baboons, I’d actually not object to seeing Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing from the Genesis. It’s a bit outdated – this is before Evander became a punch-drunk bum – but otherwise a great game, and much better than this load of bollocks.
So ends another week on the Virtual Console. One game is one of a long line of classic shooters, while the other is so obscure and poor that I had problems remembering just what the heck it was. It’s hard to get a gauge of even our expert staff, considering both games never saw the light of day here in America (excepting Gradius II on the aforementioned PSP collection), but hopefully, we are able to guide people to use their Wii Points wisely.
Until next week, this is Chris Bowen, asking you to make it quick… I want to retire!