Mario heads to the tennis court for this week's look back on the Virtual Console.
As we march towards the launch of an entirely new set of handheld games on 3DS Virtual Console, we stop along the way and take another look back at the Virtual Console games that have been available on Wii.
First up is Matthew Blundon's trials of Mario Tennis for Nintendo 64. Does the grandfather of Mario Sports titles hold up, or is it better off in retirement?
Next up is Alex Kidd in Shinobi World on Sega Master System. Jared Rosenberg takes a look at this strange mix of mascots and genres, and gives us his take.
Finally, Neal Ronaghan takes to the skies with a Super NES classic, Pilotwings. The game is beloved by many, but does it still play well today?
|System||Virtual Console - Nintendo 64|
|Released||Aug 28, 2000|
Mario has started in countless sports titles over the years, and though he has had his ups and downs, Mario Tennis stands as one of his career highlights.
Unlike its successors, Mario Tennis keeps things simple by omitting things such as power-ups. This is a traditional tennis game at heart, with Mario characters thrown in for good measure. The game features both singles and doubles play. There are a variety of modes to participate in, such as quick play matches and tournaments. The latter of those two is where you will spend the bulk of your time.
Mario Tennis features a handful of characters, including Waluigi's first appearance in the Mario series, as well as a large amount of detail in both the characters' facial expressions and animations. The ability to unlock additional tennis courts by linking with the Game Boy Color version has been omitted in the Virtual Console version, though it hardly impacts one's enjoyment of the title.
Like many of Mario's other Nintendo 64 outings, Mario Tennis comes highly recommended for gamers of all ages. Get a few friends together and you are destined to have a ball.
|System||Virtual Console - Sega Master System|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
A long time ago, SEGA's mascot was not a blue hedgehog but a young boy with large ears named Alex Kidd. Alex Kidd in Shinobi World would be his last starring role. Unlike in his earlier games, Alex Kidd is equipped with a sword and must use his new-found ninja abilities to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend.
Gameplay closely resembles the NES Ninja Gaiden games with plenty of enemies that need to be sliced and diced. Alex Kidd has a few unique abilities that weren't usually found in an 8-bit platformer; not only can Alex wall jump, he can also spin around ropes and poles and then launch himself through the air as a ball of fire. Levels feature a surprising number of secret rooms filled with helpful power-ups like throw-able spears.
Shinobi World is a colorful adventure that has some clever platforming, and can also get pretty difficult. With only four worlds, it is a bit on the short side but can easily be recommended to those who enjoy a well-made sidescroller. Players may also be intrigued to fight the first boss who is a Mario doppelganger in Samurai garb that shoots fireballs.
|System||Virtual Console - Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Released||Aug 23, 1991|
Pilotwings was a launch title for the Super Nintendo in North America, and Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto was a producer on the game. It made heavy use of Mode 7 graphics, and laid the groundwork for the soon-to-be three game Pilotwings series, which includes planes, hang gliders, and rocket belts. For its time, it was graphically stunning. However, it's been almost 20 years since it came out, and nowadays, Pilotwings doesn't hold up as well visually. Still, there is a charm to Mode 7 and the art style.
Fortunately, the gameplay is top notch, and surprisingly deep and varied. Outside of the four main modes (plane, hang gliding, rocket belt, and skydiving), there are also several other bonus modes, including a pretty awesome one where you save civilians from the EVIL Syndicate by dodging enemy fire and shooting missiles. There's also an excellent mode involving a penguin and skydiving. The game is challenging right off the bat, but if you can learn the ins and outs of each mode, there is a lot to do.
If Pilotwings 64 ever comes out on Virtual Console, I think I'd give the edge to that game, but Pilotwings on Super Nintendo is well worth your time and money if you're into flight simulators, even more so if you're curious to see the origins of Pilotwings Resort.