Virtual Console Roundup • Page 3

64-carat gold.

Pac-Man

  • Platform: NES
  • Wii Points: 500

Oh God. Do I have to? Do I have to open the door to a parade of hilarious "So, better than Halo 2 then?" comments down below? Do I have to tread where only Kristans dare?

Actually it's always a pleasure to revisit Pac-Man, for reasons that are often misunderstood by bleating score-nerds. That's because Pac-Man is one of those pioneering games that still plays just as well in 2007 as it did in 1979. Or 1990, in the case of this NES port. And, like all the gaming greats, it's a wonderfully efficient and concise execution of a brilliantly simple idea. Your aim is clear, the method is obvious - all that remains is to get better and better and better at staying alive as long as you can. A battle for your life against supernatural foes in a claustrophobic maze? Yeah, Pac-Man pretty much invented survival horror.

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So, at the risk of inflaming the rabble, is it as good as Halo 2? Pretty much. In a very different way, of course, but just as a classic film can still act as both cultural history lesson and barnstorming entertainment, so too does our wakka-wakka pill-munching pal. It's certainly hard to imagine anyone who's serious about gaming never having played this seminal title.

The only downside is that, while it's preferable to the GBA re-releases in terms of price, this VC release still isn't great value. It looks rather sparse compared to the slightly cheaper and enhanced Live Arcade version, which also has the advantage of being the original not an emulation of a console port and is therefore worthy of that notorious 8. This, however, only gets...

7/10

Donkey Kong Jr Math

  • Platform: NES
  • Wii Points: 500

Gorillas and homework. Mmmm. Two great tastes that taste... peculiar together. As Nintendo lavished all its attention on Mario, poor old DK - the original star of the show, lest we forget - was crudely shunted aside into this curious edutainment offering. As a kitsch reminder of How Things Used To Be, it raises an ironic smile. As a game you'd want to pay almost a fiver for? Not so hot.

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The concept involves DK Jr and his nameless pink female alter ego leaping from platform to platform, rope to rope, collecting the right numbers and mathematical symbols to reach the target total displayed at the top of the screen. Yes, that's right - it's the really hard numbers bit from Countdown, only with apes instead of Vorderman. And easier sums.

Back in the early '80s, the era of Johnny Ball and his ebullient numerical evangelism, a combination of ultra-basic platforming and maths might have been enough to interest truculent youngsters but it's unlikely to have a similar effect today.

3/10

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