There’s no shortage of choices on Nintendo’s download services this week, which would be a good thing, considering how lackluster last week’s batch of releases was. Nintendo seems to like putting people on a proverbial roller coaster, alternating highs with lows to keep people in suspense. First, let’s take a look at the Virtual Console’s weekly offering, which features a retired Sega mascot that was talked about in an S4 column (the majority thought he should stay dead, poor guy)…
Chris Bowen: I’m quite certain that what I am about to say is going to result in a few quizzical looks from some of my fellow writers, but even though this is the best Alex Kidd game, it’s still not a very good game.
There are a lot of cheap hits to be had, the controls aren’t very responsive (I don’t know how many times I’ve had to tell my guy “c’mon, jump, jump, JUMP”), and a lot of the things to do aren’t readily apparent unless you either have an instruction booklet or experiment. Combine that with some uneven difficulty and an ABOMINABLE swimming level, and you have a game that is decent, but not good.
It’s up to the person whether or not this is worth $5. Master System nostalgics and people who like trying new things might find this worth $5, but those that prefer more consistent playing experiences will want to think twice.
Mark B.: To sum up my opinion simply: there are, at most, two Alex Kidd games I would consider worth owning, and Alex Kidd in Shinobi World isn’t one of them.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a fun and charming game with a lot of cool ideas built in. It has some minor control issues in some sections, but I was able to beat the game when I was eight, and I was FAR from being good at games at that point. Compared to similar platformers of its time it was goddamn ambitious and it’s a lot of fun some twenty years later. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle doesn’t play as well as Miracle World, but it’s equally as ambitious as its predecessor and if you can forgive the floaty controls it, too, is a blast. Of the two, Miracle World is the superior game, mostly because it plays better. Enchanted Castle has some really floaty gameplay and cheap deaths, making it harder to recommend than Miracle World, which is about on-par, play-wise, with most platformers of its era.
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is not.
The intention was to make an Alex Kidd game… wait, I take that back. The intention ACTUALLY was to make a kid-themed Shinobi game before someone realized that, hey, sticking Alex Kidd’s face on the box might sell a few hundred more units. This would be fine IF (and I stress the “if” here) the game had effectively cross-bred the two game types. What it does instead is water down the Shinobi gameplay and give everyone big heads. Instead of throwing shurikens, Alex uses a sword and can occasionally pick up power-ups that improve his abilities. Instead of carrying your power-ups over from one stage to the next, you lose whatever you had at the end of the stage and go back to Alex’s sword for the next level. There are some neat concepts, like spinning on lamp posts to make yourself into a flaming projectile or jumping off of walls to advance, but the game doesn’t make as much use of them as it should. Frankly, most of the game is just a typical platformer with some cute crap thrown in.
I’m not even saying that Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is BAD so much as I’m saying that it’s not exciting. It’s just another example of Sega sticking Alex’s head on a character and trying to make a buck off of a tolerable platformer instead of trying to actually make a game FOR the character. It’s certainly the second best Alex Kidd game on the Master System and the third best overall, but it’s really not worth the cash unless you just have to have more obscure platformers. If you haven’t bought either of the aforementioned Alex Kidd games or Shinobi, either of those is a better investment than this.
On the Wiiware service this week is Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 5. Ashe Collins reviewed the PC version back in December and gave it some glowing praise. Definite purchase if you’re a Tales of Monkey Island fan and haven’t already played it on the PC, though naturally you’ll want to have played through the previous four episodes before going through this one. Also on the Wiiware is Tumblebugs 2 for 800 points, which plays much like Zuma and Zuma’s Revenge in that you shoot colored balls to clear a string of them, only instead of frogs you’ve got insects. Lastly is a continuation of the card game theme established by the release of Uno last week with 5 in 1 Solitaire for 500 points, which contains exactly what the title says, namely Klondike, Freecell, Spider, Golf, and Gaps. Whether this is worth your while depends on how much you like solitaire.
Meanwhile, there’s a whopping five games for you to choose from on the DSiWare service, though one’s also on the Wiiware. 5 in 1 Solitare is identical to the one on the Wiiware save for touchscreen controls and portability. DOWNTOWN TEXAS HOLD’EM goes for 500 points and could be worth the points if you really like Texas Hold ‘Em, have other people to play against, and/or want to indulge your inner gambler. True Swing Golf Express costs 800 points and makes the transition to the DSiWare decently well, though it’s missing multiplayer (which the retail version had). Considering the DSiWare’s limited sports library, this wouldn’t be a bad choice if you were really hurting for a portable golf game. Move your Brain Rollway Puzzle will run you 500 points and uses the DSi camera as a motion detector as you tilt the DSi around to roll a ball. While it’s a decent digital translation of those tilt games (which, unlike the computer versions, also lets you have that bit of tactile feedback), it probably would be awkward to play during one’s daily commute, unless you like hearing people grumble about you elbowing them constantly. Finally, there’s Legend of Exidia for 800 points, which should help sate those looking for another RPG to sink their teeth into and bears more than a passing resemblance to the Legend of Zelda games. It does have plenty packed in for an $8 game, making the asking price seem like a bargain.
That’s everything for this week. See you all same time next week!