Version tested: Wii
Can you feel that? It's the fabled Friday Feeling (except on Saturday), and it's the sensation you feel when another batch of freshly greased Virtual Console releases slide into your brainsphere. This week brings us balloons, blue balls and - OMG! - aliens on the moon! And, as usual, I'll be dipping into the existing VC line-up for another random selection of yesteryear re-releases to see if they deserve to tempt the Wii Points from your cyber-wallet.
Wii Points: 500
I think it's fair to say that a fairly major part of the appeal of retro games is the way they can take us back to a simpler time. They provide a tangible bridge back to a childhood state of mind, before adult cynicism came along and made it harder for us to simply enjoy things for what they are. A time when you could play a game in which you guided a sentient Satsuma through a maze made entirely from lizards and never once thought it strange.
Balloon Fight fits into that cosy niche quite neatly. Judged through modern adult eyes the concept - flapping around the screen with balloons strapped to your back, trying to burst the balloons attached to pointy-faced dinosaur things - is both silly and unoriginal. It's a pretty obvious copy of Joust, a game which boasted knights riding on flying ostriches, yet another bizarre moment of game logic that we happily accepted in our salad days.
If you don't mind constantly having to hammer the button to stay aloft the experience is not unpleasant in 2007. It certainly has the immediate purity required to prove surprisingly addictive, while the score-chasing Balloon Ride mode - most recently revived in Wario Ware: Smooth Moves - is a fun little extra.
It's only really worth the download if you plan on playing it with a friend though. The inclusion of another human element makes the frantic flapping funny rather than annoying, and it's a game where vindictive competition is much more fun than clearing the levels properly.
Adventures of Lolo
Wii Points: 500
The first of three unbearably twee puzzle games from Kirby creators HAL Laboratories, The Adventures of Lolo deserves credit for not being yet another cutesy platformer and - coming in at the bottom end of the VC price range - is worth considering as a diverting casual game.
The story follows Lolo as he battles through a castle to save Lala and...yeah, let's not even bother with that. It's a top down maze game, most similar to Pengo. You're able to move certain monsters and blocks out of your way, within certain limits, and must collect all the hearts on the screen before the exit will open. The difficulty curve is nicely judged, with new twists on the formula introduced gradually, and the later levels offer some serious head-scratching as you work out which order you need to move things around.
Not the sort of classic title that everyone should rush to own, but certainly the sort of game you'll be glad to have to hand if you enjoy bite-sized strategic puzzling.
Platform: TurboGrafx 16
Wii Points: 600
Aliens have infested the moon! How? Why? What? It doesn't matter! Just get in your lone spaceship and kill them to pieces!
While Dead Moon lacks the classy touches that make R-Type the king of its shooty castle, it's still not a bad effort and a much better download for shooter fans than Blazing Lasers. You get the usual procession of enemies, weapon pods that reveal power-ups when shot, and a steadily escalating arsenal of ridiculous weaponry that carves through the advancing hordes like a hot knife through a squirrel.
Your prolonged survival is aided by a cunning system that takes away a power-up with each hit, rather than an energy bar or one-hit-kill system, and experienced blasters are unlikely to break much of a sweat cutting a swathe through the six levels on offer. Only the end-of-level bosses provide a real challenge, and even then it's just a case of finding the weak spot and dodging the onslaught.
Still, it's a smooth and colourful shoot-'em-up that wouldn't have looked out of place in a 1991 arcade.