Virtual Player: DoReMi Fantasy, Puyo Puyo 2, Spelunker, Super R-Type
Wow, talk about service. In the first Virtual Player column, we complained about how the constant stream of TurboGrafx-16 shooters was holding back the many import titles that we could be playing. Nintendo must have been listening, because the following week, it tossed up two excellent import games. Although we still don't have Mario's Super Picross?
DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure
Developer: Hudson Entertainment
Publisher: Hudson Entertainment
Price: 900 Wii Points
Originally appeared on: Super Famicom
RECOMMENDATION: Buy It
Several months ago, Hudson released Milon's Secret Castle on the Virtual Console. This NES action/platformer was decent enough, and even though it was never one of the "big name" NES titles, it did have its fans. Unbeknownst to most Americans, however, Milon's quest didn't end on the NES. Hudson continued the series on the Super NES with the awesomely-titled DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure.
DoReMi is more of a traditional platformer than its predecessor. It's also a significantly better game. You lead Milon through a variety of worlds as he tries to save his fairy buddy from an evil wizard. Many of the stages are of the stereotypical platformer variety (woods, fire, ice, etc.), but there are a few goofier stages tossed in there, too (church, toys, food). Your only weapon is a bubble shooter, but there are also a few items to collect that grant you new abilities like a floating jump or the ability to survive falling into a bottomless pit.
Although DoReMi doesn't do anything revolutionary, it's still a fine example of a quality platformer. The music and animation are fantastic, and it features some utterly charming character animation. Playing through it now, you have to wonder why Hudson didn't release the game in the United States back when the SNES was popular. It's certainly better than most platformers that were released on the system over here.
Now that you have the opportunity to play this game, don't squander it. This is another fine addition to the VC library. A quick word of warning, though: Hudson didn't do any sort of translation on the game, so unless you speak Japanese, you won't be able to understand the occasional bits of dialogue that Milon has with other characters. It's no big loss, though. You'll be able to enjoy the gameplay just fine.
Puyo Puyo 2: Tsuu
Price: 900 Wii Points
Originally appeared on: Mega Drive
RECOMMENDATION: Buy It
We're giving Puyo Puyo 2 a well-deserved "Buy It" rating, but there's a bit of a caveat. If you have already purchased Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine or Kirby's Avalanche on the Virtual Console, you'll probably want to skip this title. Why? Because Puyo Puyo is exactly the same game as those two. Or to be more precise, those two games are Puyo Puyo.
You see, Puyo Puyo is populated by a cast of anime characters with which Americans simply weren't familiar. When the decision was made to release the game in the United States, it needed some recognizable characters to make the game more marketable. So Sega tossed in Dr. Robotnik and a horde of bad guys from the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, Nintendo mixed in Kirby and company, and viola! Now there's a puzzle game that you can sell to John Q. Public!
Apparently we live in a more enlightened time now, when the average gamer can deal with green-haired demon chicks and weird fish monsters in their puzzle games -- and quite frankly they should deal. Puyo Puyo is a fantastic game. In it, multicolored blobs ("puyos") rain down from the top of the screen. Connect four or more puyos and they disappear. The main strategy of the game involves setting up elaborate puyo structures so that when you finally clear a set of them, the collapsing puyos form huge chains, clearing out a ton of blobs at once. Maneuvers like this send piles of garbage blocks onto your opponent, moving them ever closer to defeat.
Puyo Puyo 2 is the most polished version of the game on the VC (not to mention the best puzzle game currently on the service). If you have not already invested in one of its offspring, buying this should be a no-brainer. Otherwise, just be aware that you're getting an enhanced version of a game you already own.
Publisher: Tozai Games
Price: 500 Wii Points
Originally appeared on: NES
RECOMMENDATION: Fry It
A spelunker, for those of you who don't know, is a person who explores caves. Spelunking can be a very dangerous hobby. It takes a rugged individual to journey into the rocky heart of a cold, dark cave. Then why, oh why is the hero of Spelunker such a fragile little excuse for a man? A three-foot fall off a rope should not kill someone. Falling into a five-foot deep hole should not kill someone. Getting pooped on by a bat (even if it is way gross) should not kill someone!
Yes, Spelunker is a pretty tough game, although most of the deaths you experience will feel less like clever game design and more like cheap death traps. In the game, lead your delicate flower through a maze-like cavern, collecting gold, keys, bombs, and other things you would expect to collect in a videogame. Aside from the few enemies and your character's dainty nature, you must also contend with the thinning air as you delve deeper into the cave.
Spelunker has been around for some time (it originated on old Atari 8-bit computers) and is considered somewhat of a classic, but it simply doesn't hold up that well today. It's a challenge to be sure, but it's simply not that much fun.
Developer: Irem Soft
Publisher: Irem Soft
Price: 800 Wii Points
Originally appeared on: Super NES
RECOMMENDATION: Fry It
Ah, yes. Yet another shooter for the Virtual Console. And what do you know? This is the third game from the R-Type series to make it to the VC (along with the original and R-Type III). Once again, the evil BYDO Empire is trying to invade Earth, and only the R-9 ship can stop their wicked scheme by scrolling to the right and shooting things.
The R-Type games are known for their challenging difficulty level, but this one is exceptionally punishing. With no checkpoints, one mistake sends you all the way back to the beginning of the current level. If you pick up this game, you'd better be extremely skilled or extremely patient.
The only reason we're giving this title a "Fry It" rating is because the other two R-Type games on the VC are superior to this one. Still, if you're an R-Type fanatic, you'll want to grab this one, too. After all, it is the first of the series that came to the Super NES, and it's a pseudo-port of the R-Type II arcade game. It's not a bad game, but if you're going to drop 800 Wii Points on an R-Type title, there are two better ones from which to choose.