I’m honestly a bit surprised. I figured Nintendo would take the opportunity, with Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver out, to try to find some way to further exploit the name on the Virtual Console. I’m not even sure what other older games they can release at this point, but I expected either a Pokemon game, or none at all. I certainly didn’t expect to see not only an A+ Virtual Console release, but a good WiiWare release as well!
Nintendo is nothing if not surprising. It’s almost like they keep trying to screw with wankers like me who write these things and try to find a pattern to Nintendo’s upload schedule. For a company who once shuttered an entire Virtual Console update because a couple of companies didn’t go along with Nintendo’s method of releasing information to the press, nothing surprises me.
Instead, let’s look at the first of two outstanding releases.
Akumajo Dracula X Chi no Rondo (AKA: Castlevania: Rondo of Blood)
Original System: PC Engine Super CD ROM
Original Release Date: October 29, 1993
Price: 900 Wii Points/$9
Alexander Lucard: Rondo of Blood is an awesome game and one of those that everyone had waited years to see get a US release. It never did. It just sat on the Tubro Duo. Sure we got Dracula X for the SNES, but that’s a vastly inferior version of the game. In 2007 we finally got a US release AND a remake on the PSP which was coupled with Symphony of the Night. Smart money says to go that route if you own a PSP. For everyone else, this is a must buy. It’s one of those things that makes the Virtual Console great.
Christopher Bowen: Now we’re talking!
If you would have asked me in 2006 what my top ten wishlist would be for Virtual Console releases, Chi no Rondo would have been at or near the top. I’ve played games on every system known to man, from all over the world, yet at that time, Rondo of Blood was strange to me. When The Dracula X Chronicles was released, I grabbed it on day one; it’s still one of my favourite PSP games.
For PSP gamers, that’s the version of this game to get. It not only has both the old and new versions of the game, but also Symphony of the Night. However, if you don’t have a PSP, this is absolutely, positively a must-get. It’s the best non-Metroidvania-style Castlevania game ever. That’s right: ever. This is the best it’s been for the “classic” style of gameplay. $9 for a VC game seems like a lot until you remember how rare this is – almost no one owned a Turbo Duo back in the day, and the game is going for well over $100 on eBay – and also how good it is, as it not only is still a top-shelf example of Castlevania, but led directly to SoTN.
This gets my highest recommendation, and is a game I’ll be getting myself.
Mark B.: Rondo of Blood, specifically the TCD version, is widely considered the best non-Castleroid Castlevania game ever, for many reasons. The game is hard without being brutal, one of the best looking 2D games released, and it’s an absolutely classic experience that very few people have had the chance to play, due to its limited availability. It doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack is BAD ASS, and until Symphony of the Night was out-and-out the BEST Castlevania soundtrack ever made, thanks to the wonderful CD technology advancement.
About the only bad things I can say about Rondo of Blood, and these are very minor you understand, are that anyone who owns the PSP game Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles has Rondo of Blood readily available to them (and it’s cheap as I understand it), and that anyone who only has experience with the Castleroid style Castlevania titles is probably going to be confused by this. Frankly, however, this game is straight-up awesome and anyone who loves Castlevania or platformers in general is doing themselves a disservice by not picking it up as soon as possible.
On the WiiWare, we have two games, but one of them immediately draws the notice of anyone who checks it out. Rage of the Gladiator is a $10 game that puts you as a first person fighter in a gladiator ring against all sorts of enemies. The first thing I noticed was that the game was gorgeous by WiiWare standards; this looks about as good as a AA Wii game you’d get for $50. The game kinda reminds me of the gladiator minigame in Oblivion, if only because I’ve played that recently, with a lot more variance to who you can fight. It’s a pricey WiiWare game at $10, and pretty one-dimensional, but the one dimension it does, it looks to do very well. Also out for the WiiWare is Triple Shot Sports, a competitive shooting simulator – yes, simulator – for $5.
On DSiWare, we have four new titles. Car Jack Streets is a BLATANT – I mean, BLATANT – rip off of the first two Grand Theft Auto games for $8. Seriously, watch a video of this on the main WiiWare site, and you’ll wonder how Tag Games isn’t being sued to death by Rockstar. Also, this game somehow only earned a T rating. I’m confused as to how they pulled this off, considering the gameplay video shows people actively being shot, with chalk lines around their bodies. Was someone at the ESRB asleep at the switch? Also out is Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs – Fight For Survival, a game that seems to incorporate collecting items in an isometric view as well as a fighting engine for battling with other dinosaurs. It’s published by Ubisoft, and costs $8; at the very least, it could be somewhat educational for grade schoolers. 101 MiniGolf World is exactly what it sounds like: 101 mini golf holes to play. It looks like one of those old shareware games I used to play on old PCs running Windows 98, and has even wonkier physics, if the gameplay video tells me anything. For the curious, it’s only $5. Finally, there’s Zoo Frenzy, yet another minigame collection, for $5.
All in all, not a bad week. There’s only two games I’d consider buys, but they seem really good. At the very least, Rondo of Blood is a rarity: a Virtual Console game that stands on it’s own in 2010 as a must-own game for any platform. Until next week, this is Christopher Bowen, who’s too tired to bother being witty right now. Ask me again in seven hours, and I’ll think of something pithy to say.