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Virtual Console Battle Boxing of Mana

by Neal Ronaghan - February 12, 2009, 11:08 pm
Discuss in talkback!

This week's recommendations feature a heralded SNES RPG and a Turbografx 16 boxing game.

If anyone was keeping score back when I tried getting this weekly in the fall, I think I promised a Secret of Mana recommendation. Well, thanks to Carmine, we have one! Sorry for the delay!

Also, Jared wrote up a Digital Champ Battle Boxing recommendation, which I can only hope holds up against the greatest boxing game ever made, Punch-Out!!

Is there a Virtual Console game we missed that you want to hear about? Do you want to give me an excuse to get Startropics 2? Give us a shout in the talkback thread.

Secret of Mana

SystemVirtual Console - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Cost800 Points
ControllersWii Nunchuk,GameCube
ESRB RatingEveryone 10+
ReleasedOct 03, 1993

When Secret of Mana begins, the first thing players hear is a whale-like echo. Then both the title and theme music are slowly introduced, climaxing with a glorious and lush scene of the game's heroes against a majestic backdrop. Secret of Mana was a virtuoso showing back in 1993, and it's just as majestic today.

Squaresoft imbued Secret of Mana with the epic backdrops and story that the developer is known for, but also managed to create immediate and fast-paced gameplay for this action-RPG. Weapons automatically charge up to 100% after each swing, after which they do full damage. Players can choose to hack’n’slash if they don't want to wait a mere second, but these attacks do almost no damage and only serve to keep enemies at bay. Alternatively, players can opt to have their character move at a slower speed and charge their weapon for up to eight levels of special attacks (once they've unlocked them). It is this simple battle mechanic, coupled with eight different short or long-range weapons and 48 spells from eight different elemental schools, that shape the game's combat.

There are other wonders to be discovered in Secret of Mana. The game features a rare and impressive implementation of the SNES’ Mode 7 technology, and it is also known for introducing the highly efficient and beautifully elegant ring menu system. And while the game's beginning is fast-paced and quick-flowing, there are challenging ordeals in the later sections of the game.

Three players can drop in or drop out for cooperative play, now without the need for a multi-tap accessory. Secret of Mana is a rarity among epic games: it’s one that you'll want to play with friends or siblings always by your side.

Recommended for Everyone

- Carmine Red

Digital Champ: Battle Boxing

SystemVirtual Console - TurboGrafx-16

Cost700 Points
ControllersWii Nunchuk,GameCube
ESRB RatingEveryone 10+
ReleasedOct 13, 1989

Digital Champ Battle Boxing for the TurboGrafx-16 took almost twenty years to cross the Pacific and arrive on North American shores. It has players taking on the role of a mutant boxer who has an arsenal of jabs, uppercuts, hooks, and other punches in a quest to defeat the clones of former boxing greats.

The action is viewed from a first-person perspective that allows you to easily see the blood-soaked face of your adversary after a particularly brutal barrage of punches. All of the boxers have their own unique fighting patterns, which a player can study so that they know when to dodge their opponent's punches and when to attack. You can use charged punches, but they must be used in moderation or you will run out of energy and be unable to recover from a knock out.

While Digital Champ's fighting can be enjoyable in short bursts, the game quickly becomes repetitive when it becomes evident that you are facing the same three boxers over and over again. Furthermore, once you have conquered all twelve boxing matches there are no extra modes to add replay value. Overall, it is hard to recommend Digital Champ Battle Boxing when you can download the far more enjoyable Punch-Out!! for two dollars less.

Not Recommended

- Jared Rosenberg

Special thanks to the Video Game Museum for the screenshots

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