Sheer variety wins this week's recommendations over with an RPG, a boxing game, and a shoot-'em-up from the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Turbo-Grafx 16 respectively.
This seems to be the week of overenthusiastic exclamation points, as two of the three games recommended have them in their titles.
Carmine Red serves up a recommendation of the odd title out, Phantasy Star IV, which is a heralded RPG for the Sega Genesis. Lukasz Balicki played the Hudson import title, Detana!! TwinBee, which is a vertical shoot-'em-up. I am surprised that companies still see releasing games from that genre on Virtual Console to be profitable. Doesn't the idea of over-saturation ever come up?
The final game of the week is from a personal favorite series of mine, Punch-Out!!, that is seeing its first new release in fifteen years next month. Jon Lindemann played through the previous game in the series, Super Punch-Out!! for the Super Nintendo, and used his wisdom to determine if you should pick it up or not.
Next week we will have Virtual Console Arcade coverage. That is, if the DSi doesn't consume our attention.
|System||Virtual Console - Genesis|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Nunchuk,GameCube|
I never owned a Sega Genesis when I was younger, but now that I've discovered this game I want to go back in time and correct that mistake. Phantasy Star IV is known as the pinnacle of Sega's classic RPG series, but if it was just another sequel it wouldn't be the same game.
RPGs are expected to have grand sweeping storylines, classic turn-based battles, and a menagerie of characters. What Phantasy Star IV has in addition to these is an exciting pace; that means you don't need to expend large amounts of time before something happens to move the story along. Its battle system innovates with the use of "macros," sets of commands that players can plan ahead of time and execute at the press of a button, making random battles a little quicker and less inconvenient. And Phantasy Star IV isn't just text boxes; major interactions between the game's characters are accompanied by anime-style comic panels to give some illustration to the banter.
The thing that makes Phantasy Star IV special is not that it's an archetypal example of the golden age of 16-bit RPGs. It's also an example of some of the best elements the genre had to offer, with few of the drawbacks of the time. This makes it easy to recommend not just to collectors and retro gamers, but also to anyone who is even remotely interested in RPGs and what it meant to play them back in the days of 16-bit gaming.
|System||Virtual Console - TurboGrafx-16|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Nunchuk,GameCube|
Detana!! TwinBee (which translates to "Here Comes TwinBee!!") is a colorful vertically-scrolling shooter with gameplay similar to Namco's Xevious series, with aerial enemies susceptible to aerial shots and ground enemies vulnerable to bombs. Players control a mechanical bee by the name of TwinBee or WinBee.
The TwinBee series is very popular in Japan and somewhat popular in Europe, while in North America the series is virtually unknown. The only game in the series released in North America was Rainbow Bell, as part of the Konami Classics Series Arcade Hits compilation for the DS.
Detana!! TwinBee features six different levels that are full of enemies with wacky designs. A unique co-op feature enables TwinBee and WinBee to combine their forms for increased firepower and bomb power, although they can only be controlled by one player and can be killed by a single shot. If Twinbee or WinBee's wing gets destroyed, players won't be able to fire bombs, and their firepower will be reduced until an Ambulance Bee comes out and heals the character.
Detana!! Twinbee's difficulty level is very balanced, and while it can be difficult, it's never overly so. This makes the game very accessible even for people who don't play a lot of shooters. Since this import is the Japanese version, there are occasional cutscenes presented in Japanese text. However, players will only miss out on some very minor story elements.
|System||Virtual Console - Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Released||Oct 01, 1994|
Super Punch-Out!! is the SNES sequel of the series Nintendo made popular in the arcades and on the NES. It plays very much like Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, with pattern recognition being the key to defeating each boxer. The A and B buttons control your left and right arms, with uppercuts and body blows selected by pressing up or down. You can also charge up a super punch, which is tracked by a meter at the bottom of the screen that fills up as you land consecutive blows on your opponent. There are four different circuits to fight through, and a Time Attack mode as well.
While Super Punch-Out!! is a successful sequel to the NES original, it suffers from a distinct lack of personality. Little Mac looks nothing like his previous incarnation, and Doc Louis is replaced by text bubbles of encouragement from an off-screen trainer that you never actually see. Fortunately, the graphics and sound effects are excellent, featuring classic Nintendo character designs (Bald Bull and Super Macho Man make a return), huge sprites, and humorous voice samples.
Super Punch-Out!!'s gameplay is just as addictive as the NES installment, although its "practice makes perfect" style may not be for everyone. Some of the later fighters are downright nasty, and the only way to beat them is by learning their patterns through trial and error. However, those looking for a sweet 16-bit fighting game need to look no further than Super Punch-Out!!.
Special thanks to the Video Game Museum for the screenshots