Two much loved games hit the Virtual Console, alongside something else entirely.
In this installment of the Virtual Console recommendations, we take a look at three games of varying stature. First up, Nathan Mustafa will be tackling Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, a much loved N64 cult classic that hit the Virtual Console service in March of this year. Secondly, Neal Ronaghan look at The Tower of Druaga, a Virtual Console arcade game that doesn't have quite the pedigree of most of the other games available on the service. Lastly, Zach Miller spreads out a nice layer of Mega Man love for Mega Man IV.
|System||Virtual Console - Nintendo 64|
|Released||Oct 07, 2000|
When the Final Fantasy franchise migrated to Sony's consoles, Nintendo 64 gamers were left hurting for a decent role playing experience. Ogre Battle 64 did its best to fill this void by offering a deep and original Strategy RPG. Like many games of its era, Ogre Battle 64 is a decidedly expensive investment, and its recent release on Virtual Console means that it is now available to a brand new audience.
For an 11 year old game, I was very surprised at how modern Ogre Battle felt. The detailed spritework, dense musical accompaniment, and thought provoking gameplay all had a hand in pulling me into this game. As with many RPGs, the mechanics are where Ogre Battle 64 truly shines. Unlike grid-based strategy games, Ogre Battle allows players to direct groups of units across the battlefield however they may choose. As the player's armies march along their ordered paths, they will encounter enemy units, pursue objectives, and capture enemy strongholds. Battles play out automatically, so it is up to the player to do sufficient prep work and carefully pick which units will end up in battle, and that said units are properly equipped to fight. The role playing mechanics of Ogre Battle will hold your attention once mastered. There is simply something about creating a finely tuned killing machine that is extremely gratifying.
Ogre Battle 64 narrative shines, and unlike many games of this era, it doesn't make me wish I could skip story sequences, and even the opening scene had me intrigued. The quality story telling adds a feeling of relevance to the battles, and is often a welcome interlude between skirmishes. Some character sprites can be goofy, and this does detract from the game's cut scenes.
Ogre Battle 64 is a massive Virtual Console game, potentially containing hundreds hours of entertaining playtime. If you aren't interested in customizing a large army, or directing them in battle, this probably isn't the game for you. Then again, who doesn't want to do that?
|System||Virtual Console Arcade|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
The Tower of Druaga is a top-down, fantasy-themed maze game. Players take on the role of the warrior Gilgamesh, and must conquer each floor of the tower in order to reach the top and rescue the fair maiden from Druaga. This is done by collecting a randomly-located key and then using it to unlock a randomly-located door. To protect himself, Gilgamesh is equipped with a sword and a shield. When walking around without pressing any buttons, his shield will always be in the ready position, at which he is protected from magical attacks. If the main action button is held down while moving, his shield is moved to the side and his sword is held out. While in this position, any enemy that he runs into will be damaged and/or killed. This is the game's core mechanic, meaning that while searching for the key you must take care to alternate between attack and defense based on what is needed at the time.
Druaga is an incredibly repetitive and bland game. The graphical style of each floor is identical and very boring. The only real way to tell you are progressing is that more difficult enemies begin to appear over time. Each floor does have a hidden special treasure, but the time limit (an obvious legacy of its quarter-hungry arcade roots) makes finding these treasures nearly impossible. There isn't really a good reason to buy The Tower of Druaga, even for hardcore arcade fanatics.
|System||Virtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
Mega Man 4 is fundamentally similar to Mega Man 2 and 3, but with one giant, some might say game-breaking, addition: the Mega Buster. An iconic staple of every Mega Man game since (including the X games), the Mega Buster allows players to charge up their standard pea shooter to deal more damage to enemies and bosses. Mega Man 4 also retains the slide move introduced in Mega Man 3. The level design is interesting and engaging, and the bosses are imaginative. Among the old NES Mega Man games, this one is the most graphically appealing, and the music is as addictive and energetic as usual.
Mega Man 4 tosses in some secret items, and is the first Mega Man game to feature two distinct castles - one for the "evil" Dr. Cossack and another for usual troublemaker, Dr. Wily. In terms of difficulty, Mega Man 4 is a definite step down from its predecessors, and not just because of the Mega Buster. If you're scared off by the much-hyped difficulty of Mega Man 1 to 3, this may be a good starting point. It's platforming fun at its best, so you really can't go wrong.