November 2008 Archives
Top Virtual Console Picks for November
30 November 2008 8:33 pm
Hot on the heals of the impressive Mega Man 9, Mega Man 3 arrives worldwide on the Wii. While Mega Man 2 gets vocal press as best Mega Man ever—at least in the 8-bit era—the third installment is every bit as good, and some would say it's even better. The PAL region clearly gets the best of North America this month, with the amazing run 'n gun Metal Slug 2 and one of the best RPGs ever, Phantasy Star IV. Keep in mind, though, that you can score both of these games and a whole lot more if you buy Metal Slug Anthology (Wii, PS2, PSP) or the Sega Genesis Collection (PS2, PSP). Rounding out the month are two RPGy games—only in Japan so far, naturally. Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu features bump-attack action and it's made by legendary developer Nihon Falcom. Finally, there's Ogre Battle, the first game in the excellent strategy franchise.
North America
PAL Region
Pal Region
PAL Region
Trio Makes the Cut for Top Sega CD List
20 November 2008 10:08 pm
The first two are very similar to the cart versions, only with some additions that take advantage of the CD format. Batman Returns goes the extra distance by adding all new batmobile racing levels that use the scaling power of the Sega CD hardware better than any other title for the system. Ecco: Tides of Time is notable for it's wonderful musical score; although, I could do without the grainy full motion video clips that were also added. Finally, there's Vay, the first RPG Working Designs brought to the Sega CD system. While it pales in comparison to two Lunar games, the story is well-told, and Vay remains very solid RPG, especially considering the small library this genre has to offer on Sega's console.
Another Top Game Each for the TG-16 and TG-CD
18 November 2008 8:00 pm

Final Soldier is the final game in the Soldiers trilogy (see Soldier Blade and Super Star Soldier), and it was originally only released in Japan, though it's currently available on the Virtual Console for a bargain 600 Wii points—thank you Hudson Soft! That said, it's also the weakest game of the series, but bear in mind that we're still talking about a Hudson Soft shoot 'em up, and the weakest game in a frickin' awesome franchise still means that it's, well, pretty frickin' sweet.

The second title, Langrisser, can also be downloaded on the Wii Virtual Console, albeit with two important caveats: 1) It's the Genesis version, and 2) It's currently only available in Japan (even though the Genesis version actually made it to the U.S. as Warsong). This is the first installment of the Tactical RPG series. The graphics are much more colorful than in Warsong, and the levels don't have the ugly visible grid for each tile either. Not surprisinly, the music sounds quite a bit better thanks to the CD format.
Four New Additions to the Top TG-CD Games Japan Only!
15 November 2008 7:53 pm
One of the many reasons that the TurboGrafx-16 and it's CD add-on failed to capture the hearts and minds of gamers outside Japan was the lack of quality games. Here are some fine examples of what non-Japanese gamers missed out on. Garou Densetsu 2 (better known as Fatal Fury 2) is an amazing port of the classic Neo Geo fighter. Kaizou Choujin Schbibinman 3 (don't bother asking for a translation) is actually a sequel to the mediocre Shockman, but after two very mediocre titles, the third installment is quite awesome, borrowing heavily from Mega Man. Kaze no Densetsu Xanadu II is an RPG, so I can't laud the storyline, because I don't know Japanese. But when you see the quality of the cut-scenes and the gorgeous graphics, backed by the fact that this is Falcom, the creator of Ys, there's no doubt that this game is awesome. Finally, we have Pop 'N' Magic, a lovely little single-screen platformer in the spirit of Bubble Bobble.
The Truth Behind the Music of Castlevania III
10 November 2008 11:51 pm
Wii owners in the PAL region were recently treated to the Virtual Console release of one of the best Castlevania games ever created. Not only is Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse easily the best the franchise offered on the NES, it pioneered elements that defined the sequels, such as multiple main characters and branching paths through levels. While the music of the game was also widely praised, just a very small portion of the world got to enjoy its full beauty, because only the Japanese version of this NES classic included the VRC6 microprocessor chip, which added two extra pulse-wave channels and a saw-wave channel to the standard five channels for the NES. Tragically, the version of the NES hardware released in the United States wasn't able to support external sound chips, so the version of Castlevania III designed to shipe outside of Japan was restricted to original NES sound specifications. How big a difference is this, you might wonder? You be the judge:

US/EU Version — Castlevania III, Beginning (Stage 1)
Japanese Version — Castlevania III, Beginning (Stage 1)

In these days—rife with emulators—it would seem that the Japanese version being better than the other ones isn't a big deal. However, it raises a big and troublesome question with respect to the Virtual Console. In this age of downloadable games, when limitations of the original NES hardware and the cost of an extra sound chip are no longer problematic, why the hell doesn't the VC version of Castlevania III feature the far superior sound found on the original Japanese release?
October Virtual Console Wrap-Up
2 November 2008 6:09 pm
There hasn't exactly been an overwhelming amount of exciting new releases lately for the Wii. World of Goo is a notable exception. And while Guitar Hero World Tour is quite the technical achievement, we've seen Guitar Hero many a time before. Fortunately, the Virtual Console continues to pump out a steady stream of retro awesomeness. I've sifted through the chaff to save you time and money; if you're going to download anything, I highly recommend it's one of these games:

North American and
PAL Region Releases

North American Releases

PAL Region Releases

Japanese Releases

November 2008 Archives