It’s been a while since our last installment, but the Genesis has kept rockin’ these past few months. A slew of quality releases has graced the Virtual Console, and it’s time to chime and give our readers a heads-up about which ones they should spend their hard-earned Wii points on!
Wow, who ever would have thought we’d get a chance to finally play this in America? Our friends on both sides of the pond have been enjoying Alien Soldier for years, and American gamers have had to shell out some major coin to score a copy. That’s all changed now, and hopefully a successful release will assure more imports come our way. The VC couldn’t have picked a better game to get started with either, and Treasure’s magnum opus is nothing but pure boss-battling adrenaline and action. It’s not your pick-up-and-play shooter, and mastering it will take you some time, but that just means you’ll get your money’s worth.
Pass or Purchase? Trust me on this one folks; this is the first game you should get from this bunch. Buy it now.
Fans of Golden Axe are going to be all over Alien Storm, and they should be. The two-player simultaneous action is great, and nothing beats whupping aliens! The first-person stages are filled with mayhem and destruction, and the overall quality of this port is high compared to the arcade original. Some of the audio is a bit bleak in areas, but it’s always been that way, and it doesn’t suffer much from the emulation. This is definitely a title you want to play through with someone, and it’s one you’ll be coming back to often.
Pass or Purchase? With its two-player gameplay and action-packed stages, Alien Storm is a game that is good for some quick fun when you’re done with Golden Axe.
Columns III: Revenge of Columns
I’m kind of torn on this one. The single-player mode well, sucks, but the multi-player is awesome. The problem is that if you’re into party games on the Wii, you’re most likely not going to be looking for VC games to get your waggle on. Another knock against it is that there’s already a Puyo Puyo game on this list, which just seems much more fun in multi-player. Columns III is an attempt to cash in on that series’ success, and it doesn’t quite work that well. Something’s just… off.
Pass or Purchase? The original Columns is already on the VC and offers a better single-player experience, and there’s Puyo Puyo Tsu and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine have it beat for multi-player. I’d say you’re better off with any of them if you have limited puzzle points, but you may feel like nabbing this if you love the genre or need another fix.
I recently dove (pardon the pun) back into this one with my daughter, and it’s definitely a game Ecco fans will be easily able to understand, but I’m not sure they’ll find as much enjoyment as they’d like. Ecco Jr. is extremely simplified, and the missions are much too easy for a seasoned fan of the series to find more entertaining for more than a few minutes. If you’ve a young one in the house, they might get a kick out of zipping through the oceans and helping other sea creatures. The ability to choose from a killer whale and other animals could help make this perfect for an impromptu science lesson for the kids, but adults won’t see the wonder.
Pass or Purchase? Treat this one as a side project for Sega’s favorite dolphin and spend your points on one of his main adventures if you’ve got an urge for cetacean adventure.
Mike Latham’s fighter is a game you either love or hate, and I personally love it. It’s brutal and unforgiving, but it’s quite deep and one heck of a challenge. The characters are incredibly deep, and you could get lost in their back stories alone, but the gameplay doesn’t fall behind. There’s plenty of fighting action and fun to be had here, so long as you don’t play it with the Activator (as if anyone actually does). A word of caution: Eternal Champions is not a fighter you can just walk into.
Pass or Purchase? The learning curve is more like a steep cliff face, and only those who are willing to make a Virtua Fighter-like commitment to learning the gameplay are going to reap the rewards. Scrubs should definitely look elsewhere.
Golden Axe III
I’d probably be the first one in line to tell people to pass on the incredibly underwhelming Golden Axe III. It’s bland, lacks all the charm of the first two games, and has watered down everything from the characters to the magic effects. However, it was never released in the U.S., so American gamers who haven’t imported have missed out on the third chapter of the saga. It might be worth it to those who really want to play the entire trilogy, but beware that buyer’s remorse isn’t something Nintendo cares about, and 800 points spent here are lost forever.
Pass or Purchase? Save your pennies for something more worthy and conserve your precious memories of everything Golden Axe. There’s a reason why Sega didn’t bring this one stateside.
Treasure’s isometric action/RPG instantly draws comparisons to the classic Landstalker, and while Nigel and Friday win that battle, Light Crusader still offers a great time. There seems to be more emphasis on the puzzles than in Climax’s effort, and combat is pretty simplistic. That can also be said for most other titles of this type, so it shouldn’t be much of a concern at purchase time. In fact, the only thing I can think of that might keep people away is Light Crusader’s undeserved reputation as a game on the lower tier of quality Treasure titles.
Pass or purchase? It’s slower and not as action-packed as the company’s other games, but this is definitely a great way to spend a few afternoons. Light Crusader is underrated and worthy of your hard-earned Wii points.
Pure, unadulterated action – that’s what Mega Turrican is. The legendary Amiga hero slipped onto the Genesis with his initial effort, but somewhere along the way he decided to raise some hell, and this sequel does exactly that. Great visuals are complimented by some awesome bosses and an even better soundtrack, and this is exactly the kind of run-‘n-gun orgy fans of the genre are looking for. There’s plenty of platforming included as well, and the grappling dynamic has been tweaked to perfection here.
Pass or Purchase? No ifs, ands, or buts people… you’ve got 800 points? Not anymore you don’t. Mega Turrican just tore through them.
Phantasy Star II
I don’t need to profess my love for Phantasy Star II anymore, I should think. After reviewing it, everyone should know where I stand. For that reason, I’m going to dedicate this space to explaining… ah, the hell with it. I can never give this game enough love. People complain that it’s too “old school,” as if you should expect a game from 1989 to be anything else. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s by-the-numbers turn-based combat. That’s true. It’s also a direct sequel to one of the best RPGs of all time, and it’s over forty hours in length – and that’s if you have the hintbook!
Pass or Purchase? If you love long, challenging RPGs that are going to test both your patience and skills, then this one is for you. Fans of the series already know what to do. Heck, they’re already playing it!
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Too many people are down on Phantasy Star III. The lack of connection to the previous two games kind of turned them off, and some just couldn’t get into the whole “different generations” thing. As a Phantasy Star fan, the game did indeed sour me a bit, but taken on its own it’s actually a great little RPG. It’s long and involved, and the visuals and audio are superb. The story is pretty deep too, and how many RPGs from the era actually motivated you to go back and play them for a different storyline and ending? I thought so.
Pass or Purchase? The VC is becoming chock full of quality Genesis RPGs, and with the coming of Master System titles, all we need now is the fourth game to have the complete series.
I’ve heard people refer to Powerball as a poor man’s Speedball Deluxe. Ouch! The game has the same rough and tough style as The Bitmap Bros.’ hit, but it doesn’t seem to measure up. The football/soccer/rugby hybrid of the future has you playing as one of eight teams, and there’s plenty of violent action to go around. The problem is that it’s all very simplistic and doesn’t offer more than a few hours play. The single-player mode is shallow and the CPU is predictable, and the two-player mode offers little meat for anyone hungering for some real fun.
Pass or Purchase? Seriously, with so many other two-player games out there on the VC, why on Earth play this? Namco may have been able to pull this off back in 1990, but it just doesn’t hold up well today at all. Waste your points on this and watch in anger as it takes up a valuable VC slot forever after.
Puyo Puyo Tsu
Yay! Another Puyo Puyo game comes to the Wii VC. Even better is that it’s one that American gamers probably haven’t had the chance to play. Heck, I’ll bet most didn’t even know it existed. Well, those lucky gamers are finally in for some gummi-like fun! Puyo Puyo Tsu should be instantly accessible to anyone who’s spent time Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, the only game in the series to come to the American Genesis. There are lots of modes and characters, and the two-player gameplay is as solid as they come.
Pass or Purchase? It’s got Puyos! What more do you need? Yeah, the SNES version has more stuff, but this one’s instantly accessible on the VC, where as the SNES one is not. Buy it and enjoy!
Rolling Thunder 2
If you’ve ever played Namco’s original Rolling Thunder, either in the arcade or via one of its many home ports (NES FTW), then this one is undoubtedly on your list of games to get. The sequel takes everything you know and love about the first game and pumps it full of bigger, badder, and better. More weapons, more variety in the stages, and some awesome cut scenes round out a package that’s a must for any action fan. It’s much harder than its predecessor, but that game was no walk in the park either. You have to pass this one twice though, something the third installment kept, and enemies are smarter and nastier than ever here. Playing as Leila was a great addition, and I can confidently say that this is 800 points well spent.
Pass or Purchase? Rolling Thunder was always cool and challenging, and Namco was awesome enough to give us a port of the arcade sequel. It’s very polished, hard as nails, and full of great gunplay. What more do you need?
Sonic 3D Blast
As a title all on its own, Sonic 3D Blast isn’t a bad game at all. As the title that was supposed to fill the shoes of the axed Sonic Xtreme… not so much. This title was more or less Sega’s plan B when it came to Sonic releases in 1995, and the Genesis was given a port that didn’t really lack all that much from its Saturn sibling. When the aging Genesis can serve up a quality version of a game released on much more powerful hardware, it tells you something.
The view perspective is cool and all, but guiding Flickies towards an exit seems like something that Flicky himself should be doing. Hell, it was his job, for crying out loud. The obstacles are decent, and Sonic looks great, but the whole isometric view just doesn’t seem to agree with the character, and you can’t help but think something’s not right.
Pass or Purchase? If you simply must have every one of Ol’ Blue’s outings, then you should find some fun with this one. Not-so-diehard hedgehog fans need not apply.
There’s plenty to go around here, and the sheer volume of games released since our last installment means that you’re at least going to snag a few. There’s a great variety of fun to be had, from heavy-hitting RPGs and platformers to solid run-‘n-gun action titles, so don’t be shy about picking up some great Genesis games for your Wii.