Virtual Console Roundup

Two for the Commodore 64 and Cruis'n on N64.

Version tested Wii

Like the callous husband who ignores his wife for weeks, but then comes home early on her birthday with a bouquet of roses and tickets to Paris, so this week's Virtual Console update reminds us why we married the bastard in the first place. Three new games in one day - something that hasn't happened since last year, shockingly - and a whole new platform to play with as well!

Yes, the Commodore 64 joins the Euro VC line up as of today, and it's an event that leaves me torn. As the sort of old git who still sometimes says "computer games" instead of "videogames", the addition of an 8-bit home computer to the line up makes me feel very warm and fuzzy and nostalgic. It also leaves me conflicted, because - like all sensible people - I was a proud Speccy owner, and wanted nothing to do with Commodore's fudge-coloured monstrosity. I've since learned to abandon my partisan ways, of course, but what will it take to get Sir Clive's rubbery wonder on the VC?

But, hey, look at me, waffling on like the Werther's Originals Grandad. There's games to be played.

International Karate

  • Platform: C64
  • Wii Points: 500
  • In Real Money: GBP 3.50 / EUR 5 (approx)

Let's tackle Archer MacLean's seminal fighting game first, since it helps to explain how the C64 works on a console. To start the game, you need to press the 1 button. This brings up a virtual C64 keyboard, which in itself will probably be enough to send fans into spasms of glee. You then need to prod the pretend F1/F2 button to start a one-player or two-player game. Then you press 1 again to remove the keyboard.

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There's no getting around the fact that it feels clunky - especially since the round begins as soon as you press the F1 button, meaning you have to race to clear the screen and turn the Wiimote around for normal play before you get clobbered. Making it even more intrusive, you need to go through this awkward process every time you start another round. Quite why it couldn't have the start function mapped to some of the other buttons is beyond me, especially since Uridium needs no such faffing.

Anyway, the game. It's a fighting game, but one completely unlike the Capcom, Midway and SNK games already filling the VC vault. This really is a karate game, where you can be knocked down with one hit, and victory comes from a referee deciding who got the most hits in the time limit. Both fighters are identical, moves are limited to directions modified with the solitary fire button, and success comes from timing and learning the best positions to strike from. You can advance through the different coloured belts, or take on a friend. And that's pretty much it.

It's basic, that's for sure. It's also clever, instantly enjoyable regardless of your skill level, and even at twenty-something years old it still feels fresh and different to almost all the other fighting games before and since. Is it worth 500 Points? It's better value than many of the NES games that have commanded that price, but frugal gamers will already have twigged that it might be best to hang on and see if the phenomenal IK+ is on the way first.

7/10

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