Virtual Console Roundup • Page 2

14 games including Majora's Mask and the first arcade releases.

Star Force

  • Platform: Arcade
  • Wii Points: 500
  • In Real Money: GBP 3.50 / EUR 4.50 (approx)

The only non-Namco game in the initial VC Arcade line-up, Tecmo's Star Force is a 1984 vertical scroller with very few frills. Clearly riffing on Xevious in appearance, it lacks the features that would make its caravan shooter peers stand out.

Your weapon can only be powered up once, and there are no additional modes of attack. No rockets or bombs, just a procession of floating islands spewing geometric alien foes at you.

That's not to say that it's a bad shmup, of course. It's smooth and fast and enjoyable enough, in a basic gets-the-job-done kind of way. There's nothing terribly wrong with it, but with so many better examples of the genre already available on the Virtual Console, it seems like an odd choice to launch with the new Arcade platform.

6/10

Super Punch Out!

  • Platform: SNES
  • Wii Points: 800
  • In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 7.70 (approx)
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Not all that different to the original NES game, itself based on Nintendo's early arcade cabinet, there's still something enduringly attractive about this bright and colourful bout of pixel pugilism.

The controls couldn't be simpler - left and right feint your boxer, down blocks, while the face buttons offer left and right punches, and the knockout blow. Modify those with directions and you can throw crosses and uppercuts and most other things you'd expect a boxer to do.

It's a game of reactions more than anything, really. As you work through the roster of unlikely opponents, they telegraph their moves less and do more damage with each attack. It gets quite tough pretty early on in Championship Mode, and those without the patience to memorise each boxer's telltale animations will soon grow tired.

Super Punch Out, therefore, is a purposefully shallow game but one that can be a lot of fun. It looks great, with big cartoon characters and plenty of wacky humour, and while only a few will relish the long haul of the high-score tables and time attack modes, it's worth a punt if you're that way inclined.

7/10

Mario Golf

  • Platform: N64
  • Wii Points: 1000
  • In Real Money: GBP 7 / EUR 10 (approx)

The first of Nintendo's Mario-themed sports spin-offs, Mario Golf set the template for all the baseball, tennis and "soccer" fun that followed, offering a surprisingly solid recreation of the sport, livened up with a sprinkling of Marioesque elements.

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Everything works much as you'd expect in a golf game, with the old power bar to determine your stroke. The inclusion of Power Shots mixes things up a bit, with six of these extra powerful strokes available at the start of each hole. Hit them perfectly and not only do you get a suitably bombastic animation unique to each character, but you'll be able to use the Power Shot again without dipping into your limited supply, which makes them a fairly strategic commodity.

There are, naturally, a host of party-style game modes where you hit the ball through hoops, play mini-golf or use a fruit machine to randomly assign your clubs. New characters are unlocked by beating them in the self explanatory Get Character mode, but they haven't jiggered about with the code to allow access to the bonus characters you could unlock by using the GBA.

It's a really good golf game, albeit perhaps never quite as great as you remembered. Last summer's We Love Golf came from the same developer and failed to set our world alight. Mario Golf is therefore, in many ways, still one of the best golf games on the Wii and well worth the asking price.

9/10

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

  • Platform: N64
  • Wii Points: 1000
  • In Real Money: GBP 7 / EUR 10 (approx)

It's always a pleasure when a truly great game like this comes along. Not just being able to revisit the game itself, but the chance to write about it, to extol its virtues with a fresh perspective.

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It's also pain in the arse when a truly great game like this comes along. There's a wealth of chatter already out there in the world, and what's one more voice going to say that hasn't been said already?

For the sake of formality, it's the sequel to the equally wonderful Ocarina of Time and it's a rare example of a videogame sequel that does more than simply repeat and refine a successful formula. An interactive Groundhog Day, the gameplay is constrained within three days of game time, or just less than an hour in real time. You relive these days over and over, changing things along the way, resetting certain things, nudging others into place.

You also have control over the weather and other variables, thanks to the Ocarina songs, while the idea of masks is developed from passing idea in the last game to full blown gameplay feature, allowing Link to change form into different creatures. It's undeniably a part of the Zelda universe, yet completely unlike any of the other games in the series. It's a bit odd, a bit sideways, a bit melancholy and, strangely for a game all about changing the past, rather fatalistic in its outlook.

Majora's Mask is brilliant. It is absolutely, categorically, worth the 1000-Point asking price. You should download it. That's all you really need to know.

10/10

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