Virtual Console Wrap-up – 11/23

Well, it looks like an exceptionally busy week over at Nintendo, as there are a whole lot of digital releases coming from them this week. SEVEN DSi applications, three WiiWare games, and two VC titles (and a Partridge in a pear tree?) are being released this week, making this one of the most robust digital release weeks from the company ever. The two VC titles released this week are pretty awesome, to boot: Super Mario Kart for the SNES and A Boy and His Blob for the NES, both of which are generally well-regarded titles. What does the staff think? Let’s take a look!

Super Mario Kart
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Original Release Date: 09/1992
Cost: 800 Wii Points

Matt Yaeger: I still play Super Mario Kart with my wife. Hell they’re still using some of the maps from that game in the current Mario Kart games so it was doing something right.

Ashe Collins: Super Mario Kart was kinda meh. I didn’t really enjoy the series until Mario Kart 64.

Chuck Platt: Super Mario Kart is my favorite in the series and the only one I go back and play.

Chris Bowen: I still sometimes break out Super Mario Kart to play it; the controls are a bit drifty due to the camera perspective (this is Mode 7 at its finest, kids), but it’s still a fun ride, and arguably the most “balanced” game of a series that’s known specifically for throwing “balance” out the window. On the one hand, the Gamecube version is my favourite version. On the other hand, the Gamecube version has that dastardly blue shell, and this doesn’t.

This is $8, and arguably a better game than the $10 Mario Kart 64 that’s already on the service. It’s really up to perception as to whether this is worth it; Mario Kart games tend to go for a lot of money on the third market (and the Gamecube version is still sold for obscene prices at places like Gamestop), so if you liked the old game, you’ll still like this one. It’s aged well.


Super Mario Kart was one of my favorite games on the SNES, and was probably the game that started the whole “Let’s put Mario in a random sport/game/genre and sell it!” ideology over at Nintendo, and for good reason. The original Mario Kart is still a game worth playing today and was amazing when it came out, and I still fiddle around with it from time to time.

For $8 it’d be worth it to relive those experiences if you’re a Mario Kart veteran, and if you’re a newcomer to the franchise it’s still a fun game, and I think it would be interesting to see where the franchise started.

Aaron Sirois: Ahhh Super Mario Kart. How many hours have I whisked away driving down your tracks? Too many to count. Back when about all we had was an SNES to entertain ourselves, this was my siblings and my personal favorite for multiplayer goodness. As such, I have plenty of fond memories of dashing their hopes of finally beating me with a well timed red turtle shell.

There isn’t much to say really. This game might not hold up that well because of the stiffer than desired controls, but it is a classic nonetheless. While you’re better off with the DS entry in the series if you want the best overall experience, there’s no reason you should deny yourself one of the true gems of the SNES library.

This is another one of those games that took way too long to be released on the VC. It’s about time.

Alex Lucard: I’ve never been a kart racing fan. I hate driving, so I’ve never been disposed to these types of games. As such, I can’t really comment, save that eight dollars for an SNES game when the $10 N64 version is already out there might make this a bit passe, except for older gamers who really loved this for whatever reason.

Mark B.: Super Mario Kart is a game that I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with as a kid; I didn’t own an SNES until a couple years after its release because I was all about the Genesis and Sega CD, and I never actually owned the game until much later, as I knew friends who had it and could spend time playing it at their houses if I felt the need. That said, this particular version of the Mario Kart franchise is the one that started it all, as well as the one that’s most fondly remembered by the fans, I’d wager, so it’s worth a look based on that regardless. Time has actually been pretty kind to this, both because it’s actually still pretty fun to play and because THERE’S NO BLUE SHELL, so it’s not the spastic screw-over fest many of the later games became. Compared to the other games in the series, Super Mario Kart is also the most drastically different of the lot, mechanically, as everything from Mario Kart 64 onward has more or less felt and played like that with some changes here and there, making Super Mario Kart more of a unique experience than one might think.

Basically, I’m saying that if you like racing and hate your friends, this is worth eight dollars.

A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia
Developer: Absolute Entertainment
Publisher: Absolute Entertainment
Original Release Date: 1989
Cost: 500 Wii Points

Matt Yaeger: A Boy and His Blob, I still have nostalgia for. I would probably hate it now, but man, when that was one of the few games I owned as a kid I played it to death. Remember just having one or two games, and even if they were awful you played them until the label on the game started wearing off? Before people play the game where you can hug your blob, they should play this one, where when you throw the wrong bean or throw it down a hole by accident, you’re screwed. None of this endless jellybean crap. You make that mistake too often and you’ll want to kick the blob across the room instead of hugging it.

Or maybe I just had anger issues as a kid. Who knows?

Chuck Platt: I never played a Boy and His Blob, but I might now.

Chris Bowen: On the one hand, this is a genuine classic, and definitely one of the most underappreciated games of all time.

On the other hand, it’s terrible for people – like most gamers today – that like to have their hands held. The new version of this game – available on WiiWare, BTW – handled that by making the mechanics more forgiving, and even giving visual aids that all but give the game away in some places (the NES game gave no clues; you had to experiment, or use Nintendo Power). The NES version is very non-linear, which is good for people that like to experiment and putz around, but not so good for people that want an easier experience.

That said, having this game available for $5 seems like a coup. Fans of the original probably already own this, having purchased it before this piece will be up. If you didn’t appreciate that the new game made things relatively easy, then you should also get this. More casual fans who are on the fence should consider whether or not this is the game for them; it’s cheaper than the WiiWare game, but nowhere near as pretty, and can be hard on newcomers. If you’re comfortable using GameFAQs for help, then I recommend you pick this up and see – once again – how far ahead of his time David Crane really was.

Alex Lucard: Besides being one of the best games for the NES bar none, this is a game I thought would never be released for the Virtual Console due to licensing issues. It’s adorable, intelligent, often frustrating and a lot of fun.

I loved the remake and it’s arguably the platformer of the year, but the original is still one of the most addicting games I have ever played. For five dollars this is an amazing steal and a must buy for any adventure game fans. Unlike most adventure games released these days (or games in general) you can get yourself trapped with no other recourse but to restart, so if you have little patience or a short temper, this is NOT a game for you. For everyone else, it’s a no-brainer. GET THIS NOW.

Mark B.: So, yeah. You’ll probably want to bookmark a strategy guide for the game before you start playing, it’s unforgiving and punishing at many points, and there instances where you may well have to start over from the beginning. There’s a prettier version of the game available on WiiWare that isn’t likely to make you cry, and by all indications it’s pretty good. So who, you might ask, would you want to buy this version of the game?

Says I, “because it’s challenging in a good way”.

See, “Nintendo Hard” is a term that was coined because, SURPRISE, NES games were hard as sin. Games like Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden were hard because the game put enemies right before tough jumps that you’d likely get killed by, while games like Shadowgate and The Uninvited were hard because they made no damn sense. Occasionally, however, a game would be hard in a way that WASN’T meant to make the player spend thirty hours figuring it out just because. The games were challenging, yes, but they were challenging in a way that made sense, dammit, and they made you plan or think or what have you in order to get past a section instead of simply making you memorize evil patterns or experiment with everything. A Boy and His Blob, along with Maniac Mansion, was a game like that, where creative thinking was often rewarded as well as punished and proper success came down to experimenting and thinking about things, and that’s a big part of the reason why it’s so beloved some twenty years after the fact.

I guess what I’m saying here is that A Boy and His Blob is pretty awesome if you like thinking about things instead of falling into a pit for the hundredth time or dodging gigantic boulders. You should probably buy it, if only because it’s five dollars. Go without a coffee for a couple of days. It’s worth it.

And for the WiiWare service this week we have Little Tournament, which looks to be a cross between Chess and Dokapon Kingdom for 800 points, Harvest Moon: My Little Shop, which is Harvest Moon with some sort of retail-management bent for 1,200 points, and Bit.Trip Void, which is hailed as the third part of the Bit.Trip series and looks like an Atari game for 600 points. For the DSWare service, we have FIVE different parts of what appears to be a series of Electroplankton games, each of which look to be around 200 points, which should be fun and amusing for anyone who likes playing around with something simple and pretty (insert [popular but stupid celebrity name] joke here). We also have Castle of Magic, which looks to be a simple and enjoyable platformer for 500 points, and myNotebook: Blue, which appears to be a 200 point blue-themed notepad program for the DSi, if that appeals to you. We’ll see you next week with some more (hopefully) quality releases!



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