The newest old game yet hits Nintendo's classic game download service.
I'll admit I was surprised when I looked at the game info for one of this week's North American Virtual Console releases, Paper Mario: February 5, 2001? It's not even seven years old, yet here it is, available for download this week. It's nice that Nintendo includes the release date (or in the case of a lot of TG16 and Genesis games, month or year of release) in the descriptions of titles, because it really drives home the point how old these games really are. It also serves as a stark reminder that certain games don't age as gracefully as others.
Here are our staff's recommendations for this week's trio.
|System||Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Controllers||Wii Remote, Wii Nunchuk, GameCube|
Balloon Fight is another one of those early NES titles that Nintendo continues to reference to this day, from the flipper item and trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, to the recent Japanese Club Nintendo release of Tingle's Balloon Fight. It's a simple phase based game where players must float around popping the balloons of mosquito-like enemies, all the while keeping them from popping their own. Like Ice Climber, it also features a 2-player co-op mode.
The controls are quite unique. It has a basic, floaty physics model where the character flaps his arms when the A (2) button is pressed or the B (1) button is held down. This causes him to rise up in the air. Releasing the button causes him to slowly float down and pressing left and right on the d-pad steers. There are three modes of play. The first two are just one and two player variations of the main game which has the player progressing through multiple single screen phases of increasing difficulty. Interspersed throughout are pop-the-balloons bonus stages which will also give the character one of their balloons back (if it was popped previously). The 2-player mode can be quite entertaining in short spurts, as you can decide just how cooperative you want to be. Do you want to keep your friend alive or get a few bonus points for popping his balloons? It's up to you. The third game mode is called Balloon Trip. It is arguably a better single player experience than the main game, as you simply try and stay alive as long as possible while the game scrolls from left to right. This part of the game was redone in Wario Ware: Smooth Moves for Wii, but many fans still prefer the original version.
Overall Balloon Fight is another one of those games that many original NES owners will have a lot of nostalgia for. It's an entertaining romp that fans of retro games will probably enjoy, and it's another mini history lesson for those interested in the origin of things like the trophies in Melee.
|Controllers||Wii Remote, Wii Nunchuk, GameCube|
Silent Debuggers is a "real-time" first-person shooter that challenges players to kill off alien invaders that have attacked a marooned space station called OHME, and it's up to you and your fellow "Debugger," Leon, to neutralize the threat. You are given six weapons to choose from, all of which are basically the same, and two life bars which drain not only when you take damage from aliens, but also when you simply fire your weapon. What fun! Aside from the changes in color scheme, you will be staring at the exact same room hundreds of times. Given that there is no map (seriously--the game doesn't even draw in a map as you explore--it only tells you your compass heading and general location within a "block"), aimless wandering is unavoidable. When the inevitable death screen comes up, you can choose to live on and fight another day--endlessly, provided you've not run out of time. Yes, there is a time limit of 99 minutes, and I challenge any of our readers to go that long. Indeed, you might, by luck alone, beat this game.
It's a real shame that Silent Debuggers is such a waste of points. It may be significant in that it's a "real-time" first-person shooter released in 1991, but that's really no excuse for horrible gameplay. I've played plenty of incredibly fun sprite-based FPS games. Doom, Doom 64, Jurassic Park, and the grandaddy of the entire genre, Castle Wolfenstein, all come to mind. All were done so much better. So I can't possibly recommend, on any level, Silent Debuggers.
|Controllers||Wii Nunchuk, GameCube|
|Released||Feb 05, 2001|
Paper Mario is simply a classic. Released right at the end of the N64's lifespan and generally hard to find now, it served as the template for Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door and, eventually, Super Paper Mario. A sequel to Square's brilliant Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario was Nintendo's (or more specifically, Intelligent System's) spin on RPG gameplay with Mario characters. Though not as narratively subversive or traditionally structured as Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario is a successful RPG gap-filler for Nintendo systems.
The gameplay is just like Thousand Year Door, although slightly less refined. The game's charm is delivered via a simple and strategic turn-based battle system, funny dialog, and a long quest with many worlds. Though it hits many of the traditional RPG beats, it adds many elements that reorganize how an RPG works, like an action-oriented field and platforming puzzles. For RPG fans and newbies, Paper Mario is a safe bet. For Mario fans, it's a no brainer. Ten dollars is simply too cheap for such an ultra-rare cartridge.
Thanks, VG Museum! Your screenshots of every game ever sure make it easy for us to tell our readers what the games look like!!