Crispy Gamer

Virtual Player: Bases Loaded, Yoshi's Cookie, Fantasy Zone, Mega Turrican

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We've got a couple of solid titles in this installment of Virtual Player (along with a couple of not-so-solid ones). Both of the good games are relatively obscure titles, so it's nice to see them get a second lease on life thanks to the Virtual Console. Unfortunately, Nintendo seems to be sticking to its "two games per week" release schedule. Remember when we would occasionally get three or four VC games a week? Man, that was awesome.

Bases Loaded

Developer: Jaleco

Publisher: Jaleco

Price: 500 Wii Points

Originally appeared on: NES

RECOMMENDATION: Fry It

Hey, look! Here's another old sports title for the Virtual Console. No matter how good these retro sports games may have been when they were first released, they rarely hold up 20 years later. Typically, these older games' simplistic nature causes them to pale in comparison to today's more robust titles. In Bases Loaded, there are 12 (fictional) teams to choose from, and you can play through a single game or an entire season. The single games can also be played with two players.

The main features that make Bases Loaded stand out from the three other baseball titles that are already on the VC are the (at the time) unique "behind the pitcher" viewpoint and the ability to provoke certain batters to charge the mound. It's certainly more fun than Nintendo's Baseball or Hudson Soft's World Class Baseball, but it's not nearly as good as SNK's Baseball Stars 2.

In fact, forget about Bases Loaded. Just get Baseball Stars 2. Sure, it costs 900 Wii Points, but it's a significantly better game that hasn't lost anything over the years, although it does lack Bases Loaded's Gallagher-esque player on the title screen.

Yoshi's Cookie

Developer: Bullet Proof Software

Publisher: Nintendo

Price: 500 Wii Points

Originally appeared on: NES

RECOMMENDATION: Fry It

After Tetris became a huge hit on the Game Boy, Nintendo spent the next few years producing multiple puzzle games in an effort to recapture that success. Titles like Dr. Mario, Wario's Woods, Tetris Attack, Yoshi and Kirby's Avalanche flooded the market. Another one of these games was Yoshi's Cookie, which provides a nice variant of the "falling block" style of puzzle games.

The playing field houses a rectangular group of cookies, comprised of a handful of different types. By using a cursor, you can shift entire rows or columns of cookies around. When the same types of cookies are lined up in a row, the batch disappears. The goal of each stage is to clear out all the cookies. Of course, as you play, new cookies float in from the top and right sides of the screen. As they are added to your group, it becomes harder and harder to clear them all out. There are 100 stages in all, and it gets challenging fairly early on. There's also a two-player mode to help extend the replay value.

It's a pretty decent game, but the NES version is surprisingly ugly. It's a shame that Nintendo didn't see fit to release the SNES version of Yoshi's Cookie, which is not only much prettier, but sports an extra gameplay mode, as well. If you're absolutely dying for another puzzle game, this will suit you, but you'd be better off picking up Puyo Puyo 2 if you've not already done so.

Fantasy Zone

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Price: 500 Wii Points

Originally appeared on: Sega Master System

RECOMMENDATION: Buy It

Now, here's a game that should have been the first Sega Master System release on the Virtual Console. Sure, there are about a million shooters on the VC, but Fantasy Zone is different enough that it stands out from the crowd. The first thing that you'll notice is the impossibly bright and pastel graphics. A cartoony look is not often seen in this genre, and it's an early sign that this game doesn't take itself too seriously. This tone is carried even further when you discover that your ship (dubbed Opa-Opa) can sprout wings to fly faster or grow legs to run along the ground.

This may be a side-scrolling shooter, but Fantasy Zone takes more cues from the arcade classic Defender than from something like Gradius. Instead of constantly moving to the right while blasting everything in your path, each stage consists of a relatively small, looping map. You're free to move around at will, and if you keep flying in one direction, you'll eventually end up right back where you started. The goal of each level is to destroy "bases," which constantly spout out enemies. As you track down the bases, other enemy ships attempt to stop you. After clearing out the bases, there are giant bosses to defeat.

Destroying enemies often earns you money, which can be spent to upgrade your weapons. The gameplay may be simple, but it's also quite addicting. The charming visuals and extremely catchy music add to the experience. Even if you own a bunch of other VC shooters, this "cute-'em-up" is different enough to warrant a purchase.

Mega Turrican

Developer: Factor 5

Publisher: Factor 5

Price: 800 Wii Points

Originally appeared on: Genesis

RECOMMENDATION: Buy It

Talk about jumping the gun. It hasn't even been two months since the SNES game, Super Turrican, was released on the Virtual Console, and now we have the Genesis entry in the Turrican series. You would think that Nintendo would want to space out these titles a bit more, but apparently that isn't the case.

No big deal, though. A little extra Turrican awareness is never a bad thing. The series never really gained much mainstream popularity in the United States, despite the fact that the games have all been quite good. The gameplay brings to mind classic run-'n'-gun titles like Contra, with its fast action, legions of relentless enemies, and multiple types of weapons and power-ups. The levels in Mega Turrican, however, are much larger and lend themselves to more exploration than most games in the genre. To aid in the exploration, you have the new Plasma Rope at your disposal, which is really just a fancy way of saying "grappling hook." The hook is a bit tricky to get the hang of at first, but once mastered, it adds a lot to the action.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, Mega Turrican is a completely different game than Super Turrican. If you've already played and enjoyed Super, you'll like this sequel just as much. The graphics and music may not be quite up to par with the SNES entry, but they're still darn good, and more importantly, the gameplay is tops.