Virtual Console Roundup • Page 3

The last ten! Including Secret of Mana.

Impossible Mission 2

  • Platform: C64
  • Wii Points: 500
  • In Real Money: GBP 3.50 / EUR 4.50 (approx)

More of a refinement of the concept than a distinct sequel, this follow-up to the rather great original adds some new robotic foes and a couple of tweaks to the puzzle format, but is otherwise best viewed as an expansion pack for anyone who downloaded and enjoyed the first game last April.

Once again, you're a suave spy infiltrating the high-tech base of Professor Elvin Atombender. It's a bit of a platform game, in that you have to carefully navigate each room, using elevators to evade the robotic sentries, but also a puzzler in which you have to crack a series of numerical conundrums to access the next area.

It's clever, quirky and effortlessly stylish. What more could you want for 500 Points?

8/10

Donkey Kong 3

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

You have to give Nintendo some credit for not simply rehashing the platforms-and-barrels formula for Donkey Kong's third outing, but since they've simply swapped it for bits cribbed from other games, it's not exactly a massive leap forwards.

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This time around the heroic dungarees are filled by a gardener called Stanley who, for reasons probably best left unexplored, has had his greenhouse invaded by Kong. Hanging from the ceiling, Kong clobbers beehives to send insect allies oscillating to the floor, where they steal Stanley's precious blooms. Using a bug spray you must either kill all the bugs or blast enough bug powder dust up Kong's arse to make him scamper all the way to the top of the greenhouse. Burroughs would be proud. William S. or Edgar Rice. Take your pick.

There are only three screens, which loop infinitely, so this is very much a high-score game. It's actually not bad, given its limitations, but there's no escaping the fact that it's ultimately just a riff on Galaxian with a sprinkling of Missile Command. You can also claim ten bonus retro-obscurity points if you found yourself thinking of Ultimate's unfortunately titled Pssst.

6/10

Enduro Racer

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

Nothing like the into-the-screen motocross-leaping action of the arcade game, or its various other home conversions, this titchified Master System port instead mashes up Paperboy and Excite Bike to produce a two-wheel racer that would be amusing for a couple of minutes on an emulator, but just doesn't have the consistency or structure to warrant a real-money purchase.

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You steer your tiny buzzing bike through a variety of environments, but the basics never change. There's a defined track, which branches off and comes back together often. Venture off the smooth racing surface and you lose speed. You hit ramps for speed boosts, and can use whatever time is left on the clock at the finish line in the rudimentary tuning screen.

Trouble is, too much of it feels random. It's easy to land from a jump right in front of an unavoidable hazard, while dune buggies drift across the track for no other reason than to get in your way. The result is a game that has the beginnings of something rather addictive, but never quite musters compelling gameplay to match.

4/10

Last Ninja 3

  • Platform: C64
  • Wii Points: 500
  • In Real Money: GBP 3.50 / EUR 4.50 (approx)

Look, I'm sorry, okay? Each time a Last Ninja game pops up on the VC, I'm faced with angry, fuming retro fans who take enormous offence at my enduring opinion that the controls suck a big fat one. As I've said each time, what was workable (or acceptable) on a chunky eight-way 1980s joystick doesn't work nearly as well on the Wii remote or even the tiny GameCube analogue stick.

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Since so much of the game still relies on using diagonals for movement and attack, I can't help thinking that this problem has a negative effect on the whole experience. And it's not for want of trying. Every time I try to get past the awkward rotational forwards-and-backwards movement to get to the legendary game inside, and I just can't do it. Every screen is a trial of fussy movement and awkward perspective. Like I said: I'm sorry.

And that's a real shame, since this final entry - with the rather appropriate subtitle Real Hatred Is Timeless - is clearly the apex of the series, even to a non-believer like myself. The graphics are phenomenal, the music is ace and the level design is clever and challenging. Puzzles are more complex and your inventory is more flexible. It's a great game, a classic of its era...where simply moving around can be a real chore.

With that in mind, feel free to choose whichever score best suits your gaming memories. And then leave me alone.

3/10 or 10/10

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