Virtual Console Roundup • Page 2

17 games including Ogre Battle, Kirby Dream Land 3 and Smash Bros.

Pulseman

  • Platform: Megadrive
  • Price: 900 Points
  • In Real Money: 6.20 / 9

A fairly obvious compilation of ideas swiped from both MegaMan and Sonic, this colourful platformer nevertheless proves its worth through some nice sprite work and winning level design.

Originally only available in Japan through the shortlived SEGA Channel, you play the electro-powered hero of the title. Built by a scientist to infiltrate computer systems, he has to battle his creator when he suddenly turns evil. Not only does his origin recall Capcom's blue-armoured mascot, but the game's structure is also suspiciously Megamannish, allowing you to choose which order to tackle the seven sizable stages.

The Sonic influence, meanwhile, comes from Pulseman's curious attack system. He can only fire his projectiles by charging them up, and he does this by keeping on the move. Let him stand around and he's reduced to using a feeble kick move and a less than impressive leap.

Connoisseurs of the genre won't find much that's new here, but that doesn't mean Pulseman is without merit. Yet another one of those games that would be more appealing at a less outrageous price point, but anyone who decides to splash their cash is unlikely to be too disappointed.

7/10

Galaxy Force 2

  • Platform: Megadrive
  • Price: 800 Points
  • In Real Money: 5.50 / 8
5

Another into-the-screen shooter, based on chunky scaling sprites and seriously showing its age, Galaxy Force 2 doesn't have much to recommend it. You lock on to enemies and then release rockets to shoot them down. Sometimes enemies come from behind and you have to dodge their attacks before getting them in your sights. You do this over a series of planets including, yes, the obligatory lava world. It's all very flat and lifeless, and doesn't even have the same range of movement as Space Harrier.

It's hard to see who this would appeal to, and so it seems to have been uploaded simply as a trap for unwary impulse purchasers roaming the Virtual Console with more Nintendo Points than sense.

3/10

SimEarth: The Living Planet

  • Platform: TurboGrafx 16
  • Price: 800 Points
  • In Real Money: 5.50 / 8

This attempt to translate Will Wright's deity-fetish to consoles is admirable and well-intentioned, but ultimately a fairly Quixotic exercise. Saddling you with the not inconsiderable task of creating an entire planet capable of sustaining intelligent life, it's a simulation game that likes to take its time. Progress is purposefully slow, which only makes the clunky presentation harder to decipher. Loading times are equally sticky, while control is imprecise.

It's a game of boundless ambition, and one that is clearly bursting with potential, but if porting it to consoles was a bad idea in 1992, it's even less easy to forgive the inherent clumsiness 17 years later.

3/10

M.U.S.H.A

  • Platform: Megadrive
  • Price: 900 Points
  • In Real Money: 6.20 / 9
6

Standing for Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armor, this vertical shoot-'em-up won't bowl you over with unique features but it doesn't punish you with bullet hell, and the generous health allowance means that averagely skilled players will be able to enjoy it just as much as the hardcore.

P-chip power-ups extend your arsenal in predictable ways, with multiple charge levels depending on how many identical power-ups you collect, and you can also pick up remote pods to either widen your attack range or attach to your belly for more powerful focused assaults.

The graphics are muscular and distinctive, the controls are as precise as you'd hope and it's simply a very engaging shooter that anyone can enjoy.

7/10

Bomberman '94

  • Platform: TurboGrafx 16
  • Price: 700 Points
  • In Real Money: 4.80 / 7

A rather cheeky addition to the Hanabi line-up, since this game was released internationally on the Megadrive under a different title - though that's not the main reason to be wary of spending your points here.

Fact is, every sane person loves Bomberman. It's a pure, compelling, balanced gaming concept. It's also well represented on the Virtual Console with Bomberman '93, and if you fancy a more updated take on the series then there's also Bomberman Blast on WiiWare. While I'd never turn Bomberman away if he turned up on my doorstep asking for a sandwich and a cuddle, there's a limit to how many times you need to pay for his company. A lovely game, then, but an inessential download.

7/10

Detana!! Twinbee

  • Platform: TurboGrafx 16
  • Price: 700 Points
  • In Real Money: 4.80 / 7
7

Not as cute as Fantasy Zone, but still sweeter than the average genre entry, this is an appealingly designed vertical blaster from the days when normal people were still allowed to enjoy shoot-'em-ups.

The game, which takes its title from the Latin for "Twinbee Teeth!!", has a pace that is surprisingly forgiving, frequent power-ups and progress is always possible, if not inevitable. It's mostly reminiscent of Xevious and, while never quite as good as M.U.S.H.A, if you've been waiting for a decent shooter that doesn't require ninja reflexes and bleeding thumbs then this is worth a look, even at the trumped up price.

6/10

Space Harrier

  • Platform: Arcade
  • Price: 800 Points
  • In Real Money: 5.50 / 8
8

Important in the evolution of 3D gaming, though less than stellar when viewed through modern eyes, Space Harrier is one of those games that has paid the price for its ambition over the intervening years. This arcade port improves on the Master System and Megadrive versions already available on the VC, purely because the obstacles and enemies move more smoothly towards you, but it's still an impressive-looking shooter let down by twitchy control and a main sprite whose arse frequently obscures your view.

Salute its role in the development of this great hobby of ours, by all means, but don't feel obliged to relive the experience again.

4/10

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