Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wii VC Reviews added to VFH

We just added a few Wii VC game reviews to the main VFH site. They are some older games, but we will continually load up reviews of VC and WiiWare games as they come in, so keep your eyes open.

Air Zonk (TurboGrafx 16)
Bloody Wolf (TurboGrafx 16)
Shining Force (Sega Genesis)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis)
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

Air Zonk
AirZonk”, a scrolling flying shooter similar to an R-Type, comes from the same series as the Bonk adventure games already released on the Wii’s virtual console.

From the beginning, you can select your gameplay difficulty and then choose how you want to work with your partners. Partners are characters that join you in your fight once you collect enough smiley coins. These coins show up once you defeat certain enemies. Once you collect enough of these small smiley coins, a larger one appears. If you get that one, then a partner shows up. If you do this again with your partner, you will transform with your partner and become a single, very strong entity. There are at least ten different partners, so this leads to many different combinations to experiment with. Anyways, you choose if you want your partner to be randomly chosen in each stage, or if you want to choose him or her for each stage. Also, you can choose to not have a partner at all, although you will still get a little helper, so it does not really matter.

Aside from these partners who help you take down enemies, you can collect one of many weapon upgrades. These upgrades range, but each has a special, cool attack. Aside from the regular attack, each also has a charge attack, all of which unleash cool, massive attacks. If you hold down the charge for long enough, all of the weapons will unleash a bomb which will explode and do damage to all the enemies on screen for a few seconds.

Yikes! Runnn!!
Like most space shooters of this sort, one hit and you are dead. Fortunately, if you get a weapon power-up that transforms you, you get an extra hit, like if Mario has a mushroom power-up. Also, you have multiple lives, depending on the difficulty level you chose, and can gain more fairly easily.

There are five stages, each consisting of two bosses and a variety of enemies. Each stage is very unique, with colorful backgrounds and enemies, which adds a nice touch, naturally.

Unfortunately, the game is fairly easy to beat and can be done so in less than an hour. Of course, I did that on easy mode, so if you want to go into the hardest difficulty, you’ll have your work cut out for you. More enemies, which are more difficult and shoot out more debris when destroyed, and you only have one life. So yeah, good luck. Luckily, you have unlimited continues, but that will only help you so much. And the last stage is ridiculous. You have to play through about three regular sized stages, plus fight three new bosses, along with all the other ones from the previous stages, and when you lose all your lives, you have to start from the beginning of the stage again.

Air Zonk is fun while it lasts, but there is not really anything that will have you coming back to play this one more than a few times to try out all the partners. If you are looking for a shooter, you are better off sticking with R-Type.
Blood Wolf

Bloody Wolf, originally in the arcade and then moved over to the Turbo Grafx-16 has now made its way onto the Wii’s virtual console.

This is a top-down / side-scrolling shooter, similar to a Contra, but where you can also go all around, like the original Metal Gear. From the beginning, you can select from one of two characters and then give yourself a code name, which you will be referred to by for the rest of this short game.

You start off with a machine gun, grenades, and a knife, which is used when you get in range of an enemy, like in Metal Slug. You can go into certain buildings and rooms and break upon boxes to get upgrades such as shotguns, bazookas, health bonuses, or super grenades, so it is always worth going into these places to look around. You can also find many POW’s or hostages in places, which you can save by going over to them. I believe saving them merely gets you points, although sometimes they have items or helpful information.

The game is fairly linear, where you cannot explore all over a level. You must go straight, or up and down. The game allows for only one at a time, more or less, so there are not open-ended levels like Metal Gear.

You have a short life meter, three blocks, so after taking three hits, you die and must continue. Luckily, there are infinite continues and the check points are not too far between each other.

You will need to use those continues multiple times though, seeing as how you do not have much health and it takes a turn or two to understand the bosses’ patterns of attack. There are two bosses per stage and around eight stages. However, each stage can be between in ten to twenty minutes, leading to a fairly short experience of around two hours, and once you beat the game, there is no real reason to come back and play it again. However, the game is enjoyable while it lasts, as you explore various environments such as swamps and take on multiple enemy types.

The one thing that could have extended the value would be to either save your high scores or have the ability to play with another player in co-op, however, both of these features are missing.

For 600 points, you can find value in this title, but you are better off holding onto your points and getting a better, longer game, such as Contra 3, as you will finish with this one in an afternoon.
Shining Force
Shining Force, previously on the Sega Genisis, has now made its way to the Wii for 800 points. I did not know what I was getting into when I got the game, but I soon found out what it was. You start off at a castle, being taught how to fight, even though he does not actually teach you, and then the plot unfolds. You have to protect your town and a special door, with nobody knows what behind it from attackers. But yeah, some people join your group, and you find out that this is a turned-based RPG, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars, or Fire Emblem. You take turns moving your characters around a large battlefield, with the enemy moving here and there.

You can use the terrain for defense, as each patch has a certain defense boost, which is an unexpected feature for me for such an old game. Anyhoo, your controls are very simple. You just use the D-pad to move, and the 2 button to attack and do all of your stuff. In battle, when you end your movement, you can choose to use an item, magic, attack, or stay. Not everyone has a magic ability, but some people can use fire and other neat tricks, while some heal. There are a variety of classes as well, which give in to these attributes and abilities. There is an archer among the crowd, which can attack from far away, and centaurs which can move far in one move.

Outside of battle, the controls are the same, except for the little menu that comes up after pressing 2. Instead, your choices are: item, magic, talk, and explore. Frustratingly at times, you have to be facing directly, the character you want to talk to. This becomes upsetting when the character is walking around a room or other environment.

There is a blinking grid that shows where you can move and where you can attack, so you always know what is going on. Also, the game wisely knows that if you are not in range to attack, then the cursor will automatically start on the “Stay” icon. When you do attack, a little cutscene comes up, which is fairly nice, showing your character and the enemy you are attacking. Then you attack. It is super cinematic. It also throws your character into the environment they are standing in; so if you are hiding in the mountains or the forest, you will be displayed as such. A very important strategic point to make is that apparently, only the attacker does any damage to the attackee. Never does the person being attacked attack back in the same turn, so there is no fear of any counter-attack or anything, which is a bit odd in this type of game. Also note that if the main character, you, dies, then you have to start the battle over again, so make sure to protect yourself.

Seeing as how this is an RPG, each character has HP, MP, and exp. When you gain enough EXP, your character will level up. Once you reach level 10, you can promote your character, which will enhance their attributes and possibly give them new abilities. You can do this, and other things, such as reviving downed allies and saving your game, at the local Abbey, where you can call out for sanctuary.

The music in the game is decent enough, and will have your head bobbing, while the noises made during dialogue for voices is really, really annoying and painful.

Aside from that though, the game is really good. There is a nice variety of enemies, and apparently a lot of challenging battles. If you liked the games previously mentioned, then you will definitely enjoy this game, as it has those elements, so for an equally good game for only 8 bucks, you might want to consider it.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2's review was unrestorable, but the listed score was 9/10

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