The Virtual Console recommendations crew finally gets a new release worth looking at.
Though the Virtual Console train has slowed considerably, Nintendo opted to grace us with a rarity: a first party N64 game in late December, and a well-loved one at that. Matt Blundon takes a close look at the game and see if it's still worth your hard-earned coins.
Also, Neal Ronaghan takes a look at another classic in Zombies Ate My Neighbors, a two-player shooter for SNES featuring a greatest hits from the Halloween costume aisle.
Lastly, Andy Goergen looks at the classic Genesis strategy RPG, Shining Force II. Does it hold up, or is it old news?
|System||Virtual Console - Nintendo 64|
|Released||Jan 24, 2000|
The Mario Party series has been around for over a decade, and up until a few years ago, the series was receiving yearly installments on both Nintendo’s home consoles and handhelds. Some have argued that the quality of the games decreased over the years, with many considering the original trio of games for the Nintendo 64 as the best of the bunch. Mario Party 2 is often hailed as the pinnacle of the series, and for good reason, too. While the game features the same roster of characters present in its predecessors, Mario Party 2 features some of the best boards and mini-games in the series. Some may argue that the game sticks too close to the formula of the original, but why fix something that was not broken at the time?
Each board has its own unique theme where the main goal is to rack up coins to purchase stars. Coins can be obtained by winning mini-games or landing on certain spaces on the board. The game has a simple premise, so anyone can join in on the fun, regardless of skill level. The game feels somewhat slow by today’s standards, but for those who can see past that minor gripe will find a solid party game.
The visuals hold up well, and even though the game lacks some of the features of the more recent games, Mario Party 2 is solid multiplayer experience. Just get a few friends together to play this game and you are bound to have a great time.
|System||Virtual Console - Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|ESRB Rating||Everyone 10+|
|Released||Jul 19, 1993|
Zombies Ate My Neighbors, originally released by LucasArts in 1993, is a satirical top-down shooter that puts you in the shoes of two teenage kids who try to save their neighbors from an onslaught of horror movie-themed villains, ranging from werewolves to demonic babies. It features co-op gameplay and close to 50 levels that get extremely challenging near the end. To complete a level, you have to save at least one of ten neighbors strewn about the map, who die when touched by an enemy.
The best part of Zombies Ate My Neighbors is the production value. The colorful character designs and world make the somewhat standard run-and-gun gameplay way more fun than it has any right being. Each enemy and neighbor is fun to watch, as they are all comically animated. The music is also rather stellar. The weapons are another treat, as there are a lot of them and they are all generally funny. It's very amusing to throw super powerful silverware at enemies. All in all, Zombies Ate My Neighbors is an awesome game that might not be for everyone because of its quirkiness, but you owe to yourself to look into it more to see if it's for you.
|System||Virtual Console - Genesis|
|Controllers||Wii Remote,Wii Classic,GameCube|
|Released||Oct 19, 1994|
Shining Force II, a game that represented a Sega fan's answer to the Final Fantasy series, is a tactical RPG with colorful graphics, catchy music, and a classic tale of good vs. evil. The game focuses on a player-named character who leads a band of warriors on a quest to save the kingdom from the forces of evil, one turn-based battle at a time.
Although tactical RPGs are generally considered to have a fairly high barrier of entry, Shining Force II keeps things very simple by focusing less on tactics and more on ease-of-gameplay. The characters have a basic levelling mechanic, but customization is kept merely to which weapons they wield. Unlike the Fire Emblem series, character death is rarely of much consequence, as players are easy to revive at the nearest church. Only when the main character dies is there any real penalty: a forced exit from the current battle. Savvy players may even use this tactic to grind their characters up in level.
Shining Force II is not the deepest experience, but the battles feel epic and after a while, become pretty tough. The graphics are great for the era, and the music, though repetitive, is fun and catchy. This is a game that is easy to recommend, but fans of the genre may feel it is a bit too simple.