Virtual Console Roundup • Page 4

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

Sonic Chaos

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

Sonic Chaos was the first 8-bit game in the series to have Tails as a playable character. It was the last Sonic game on the Master System to get a European release. Er...the story involves Robotnik stealing Chaos Emeralds. Again.

Look, there's not much to be said about this unassuming entry in the sprawling Sonic series. It's much the same as the other Sonics of a similar early-nineties vintage. Level design is complex and varied, with the rush to the goal tempered by the urge to see if you can grab that cluster of rings tantalisingly visible on some apparently unreachable platform at the top of the screen. The spin dash attack is here, and proves handy for both speeding over obstacles and clobbering bosses.

The Master System hardware did a pretty good job of including the same features as the Megadrive versions, so all the loops, twists and other stunty elements are present and correct, if a little chunkier than in the 16-bit games. Collision detection occasionally feels off, especially when picking up rings, or not, as the case may be.

Perhaps the strongest argument in favour of Sonic Chaos is that it's a relatively unseen entry in a franchise where most of the attention was directed at the Megadrive titles. For Sonic fans who know most of the games inside out, this one will probably still seem quite fresh.

7/10

Clu Clu Land

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

One of Nintendo's more obscure properties, this quirky 1984 effort has nevertheless managed to make cameo appearances in everything from Animal Crossing to Super Smash Bros.

10

You play as Bubbles, a blowfish who must retrieve gold bars from thieving sea urchins. Play takes place in a single screen dotted with pegs, and you uncover the missing ingots by passing between pegs. Urchins roam the screen as well, and can be zapped with Bubbles' huff-puffing ability. Shunting their stunned form into a wall kills them for good.

What makes Clu Clu Land stand out from all the other Pac-Man variants released in the early 1980s is the way you navigate the stages. The directional buttons reach out Bubbles' hands (or fins, presumably) and he then grasps the nearest peg and swings around and around. It feels weird to begin with, but once mastered it makes for an amusing wrinkle in an otherwise traditional maze game.

Like a lot of the NES games on the Virtual Console, there's nothing here that demands your immediate attention, but as a cute pocket money diversion it's more than acceptable.

7/10

Winter Games

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

Hard to believe it's been a year since the Commodore 64 joined the VC line-up. In that time it's offered nineteen games, which seems like a fairly paltry amount considering the vast software library the platform offers. Four of those nineteen have been joystick-twanging sports games from Epyx, and this icy offering is the latest. Boasting seven events, it's neither the most varied nor the most impressive of the series.

11

Ski Jump and Hot Dog are variations on a theme, with a rush down the slope followed by some deft directional choices to maintain balance or pull off tricks before attempting (and often failing) a safe landing. Biathlon is an agreeable mix of marathon and shooting, as you hike up and down snowy hills, hopefully conserving enough energy to take a decent shot at checkpoint targets with your rifle. Speed Skating is a straight forward sprint event, while Bobsled simply asks you to use left and right to keep your hurtling metal coffin inside the track. That just leaves Figure Skating and Free Skating, which are basically the same, with the first insisting you follow specific moves and the second letting you do whatever pirouettes you fancy.

The game supports up to eight players, but most events only allow you to play one after another. As with the others in the series, some events - such as Biathlon and Bobsled - have aged reasonably well, and are still fun to play. Events like Hot Dog and Figure Skating, with their reliance on outdated rhythm reactions, are less than enjoyable in 2009. As always, then, another mixed bag that only entertains some of the time.

5/10

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