Like a Saturday Afternoon Movie, Virtual Console Recommendations returns to tackle a Game Gear roguelike, a Game Boy platformer, and an NES sequel that completely ditched its predecessor's gameplay.
Nintendo's Virtual Console service is sort of like a weekly monster movie. Every week you get a new dose of classic nostalgia, or classic cheese, or sometimes, if you're lucky, very classic gaming in the best sense.
But which old game on the service is worth worth it for fans, worth it for everyone, or not worth it all? The following are staff member's personal attempts to answer that exact question for the Game Gear's Dragon Crystal, the Game Boy's Adventure Island, and the original Nintendo's Donkey Kong 3.
|System||Virtual Console - Game Gear|
|ESRB Rating||Everyone 10+|
|Released||Dec 11, 1992|
Have you always wanted an RPG without that pesky save feature? How about one without a story that would just slow things down? Dragon Crystal may be the game for you! The Game Gear title takes the form of a roguelike, putting you on floor after floor of bad guys, item pickups, and twisting maze-like paths.
As in most rougelikes, you only get one chance at this: if you die, it's back to the title screen. This sense of urgency is what appeals to most fans of the genre, but many will just find it frustrating and needlessly difficult. The harsh penalty seems a little easier to swallow here since the dungeon is the only part of the game: There's no hours of character building lost if you die, you just lose all of your gear and start back on floor one. The save state feature of Virtual Console also helps here - if you create a restore point at the start of each dungeon then you have a safety net.
This game won't appeal to most people, so don't be tricked by screenshots into thinking you're getting a proper RPG. This isn't it. But if you do happen to like the roguelike genre, then Dragon Crystal is something new to dig your teeth into.
|System||Virtual Console - Game Boy|
In Adventure Island, you play as Master Higgins, a hat-wearing, overweight hero tasked with saving his kidnapped Princess. Sound familiar? Well, it should, as Adventure Island takes quite a bit of inspiration from everyone’s favorite Italian plumber, Mario.
The game even controls similarly to Super Mario Bros. in that you move with the d-pad, jump with the A button, and run and use power-ups with the B button. However, unlike Super Mario Bros., much of Adventure Island's platforming is rather mediocre requiring you to do nothing more than jump over small obstacles and kill enemies. There are a few stages that feel much serious in their platforming, but many of them often include overly precise jumps that feel cheap instead of challenging.
In contrast, the game's strengths include an array of six prehistoric-themed power-ups that range from a simple stone axe, to several mountable dinosaurs. The dinosaur mounts lend you their attack power, but also function as an extra life, allowing you to take more than one hit. Moreover, each of the eight islands end in a unique boss battle. While they can be rather simple, the boss battles are the most enjoyable part of the game.
Despite it's short comings, Adventure Island still has some high points that make it a great choice if you're game for a fine, but flawed, platformer.
|System||Virtual Console - Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
Each iteration of Donkey Kong for the arcades and NES disregarded the classic gameplay established in their predecessors, instead choosing to introduce their own different and unique methods of play. Donkey Kong 3, for example, turns itself into a shooter of sorts. Rather than playing as Mario or a relative of Donkey Kong, you'll play as Stanley the bug exterminator, a person hired to look over Mario's garden and guard against the threat of bugs and Donkey Kong himself. Using your bug spray you fire insecticide upwards at bugs to prevent them from snatching flowers, or at Donkey Kong to force him upwards and right off the screen.
If you are able to look past the different style of gameplay and strip yourself of the notion that you are playing a "Donkey Kong" game, Donkey Kong 3 is a really fun fast-paced game that provides a nice breath of fresh air when it comes to classic gaming. But those who have been raised on the idea that Donkey Kong doesn't deviate from its first iconic arcade release will see this as being a fun but brief diversion. That's why this is a release best recommended for fans that enjoyed the game during its initial release on the arcade and NES and who are able to enjoy it without letting the different game style be a bother.