This week's recommendations reach across the years in the search for timeless gameplay.
The Virtual Console service lets players reach back decades into gaming's past, but there's no guarantee that they'll always be rewarded for their efforts. Luckily, Nintendo World Report staff are fearless when it comes to time travel, and this time they have investigated an NES adventure title and two Game Boy games.
First off, Andrew Brown covers Game & Watch Gallery, a Game Boy collection, rerelease, and remake of some of Nintendo's very first handheld offerings. What sort of history does this game make on the Nintendo 3DS eShop?
Next, Carmine Red digs up Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. Does age mean this NES adventure game is past its Virtual Console sell-by date?
Finally, Andy Goergen runs and guns through Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge. Does this Game Boy title rock the eShop, or does it run into a spike?
The (official) first entry into a series of Game & Watch revivals, Game & Watch Gallery draws inpsiration from a PAL-only Game Boy title known as Game Boy Gallery. Unlike the former, G&WG makes an impressive attempt to spruce up four classic Game & Watch titles with Mario and his friends, new music, animations, and modified gameplay elements. Purists also have the option to play them in their original modes as well, with the classic artwork and beeping timer. The games are Fire, Manhole, Oil Panic, and a personal favorite, Octopus.
The games themselves are starting to show their age in classic mode but are still fun enough to play, and the Mario-themed modern mode goes a long way to refreshing them for a new generation. Lots of unlockables to keep you going for a while and the price of this package makes it a better deal than the Game & Watch DSi ports and the Club Nintendo Game & Watch collections combined.
Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom
|System||Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Released||Feb 18, 1991|
Princess Tomato (no relation to Princess Peach) has apparently gone and gotten herself kidnapped, and it's up to you, Sir Cucumber, to get her back. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom is an early example of the adventure game genre, closer to text adventures than the more well-known point-and-click examples. Almost all of the game consists of static or only marginally animated scenes in which the player interacts with in order to gain items and progress the story. The player accomplishes all this by navigating a menu and applying a set of commands like "move", "look", "check", or "talk". The key is in puzzling out which commands or items to use in which scene.
Unfortunately, compared to the progress that adventure games have made since Princess Tomato's release this style of experience comes off as linear and restrictive. It's even more frustrating if you ever get stuck with no idea as to how to proceed, feeling like you've already tried every possible combination of commands. For all the charm of anthropomorphic vegetables, Princess Tomato will likely only win over the most hardcore adventure enthusiasts.
Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge
This handheld title for the 3DS Virtual Console takes us back to the early days of the prolific series. It features four selectable robot bosses, all culled from Mega Man on NES. As with other Mega Man games, defeating all off the boss stages takes you to Dr. Wily's castle. The game is a nice history lesson regarding Mega Man's early roots, but unfortunately it doesn't play quite as well as the games it is mimicking.
The game feels much slower than the NES Mega Man games, as the technical limits of the Game Boy are immediately apparent. The gameplay style is identical to other Mega Man games of the era, but the difficulty is very high, and the action is so zoomed-in and slow that it's often hard to avoid collisions with enemies no matter how hard you try. The presence of a save state feature on the 3DS Virtual Console is a life-saver here, and most players will begin to rely on it more and more as they get further into the game.
In the end, though, this is a Mega Man game; if you've enjoyed other early games in the series, chances are you will get some enjoyment out of this Game Boy version. Go into it with a bit of caution, and you'll find that there is plenty of fun to be had among the difficulty and slowdown.