Virtual Console Roundup • Page 3

Yoshi's Cookie, Wonder Boy, Fantasy Zone, Cali Games, Impossible Mission.

California Games

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

Often fondly remembered by those of a certain age, this spin-off from the Epyx Winter and Summer Games stick-wagglers won many of us over in 1987. The daffy sense of humour may have helped, along with the freshness that comes from a sports game that doesn't revolve around the same old track and field events. No, these are more like sunny day pastimes than true sports, and the emphasis is firmly on multiplayer fun.

Surfing, BMX, rollerblading and the skateboard half-pipe are the more obvious entries. "Flying disk" and "foot bag" round things out as cheesy '80s oddities. There's support for up to eight players, though you'll need two Wiimotes for a full contingent of players.

Sadly, while the concept is strong, the execution is weak. Partly this is due to the original coding, with some painfully slow responses for events that should be nippy and fun, but playing it on the tiny d-pad of the Wiimote certainly doesn't help. That titchy little plastic cross is no replacement for the firm comforting feel of a big old-fashioned joystick in your hand, and several events are rendered almost unplayable because of this change in control.

Having played through each event once, and having failed most of them because of the sluggish animation colliding with ergonomically evil Wii controls, I'd satisfied my nostalgic impulse and felt no compulsion to go back and improve my skills at these basic challenges.

3/10

Impossible Mission

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

I figured I'd save the best until last. Impossible Mission is a game that always gets muddled up with Elevator Action when I try and recall specifics from my fuzzy '80s childhood, so the chance to play it anew helped to blow away some cobwebs.

What I found was an innovative and genre-hopping experience that really demonstrates how much tunnel vision has afflicted game designers over the last few decades. Impossible Mission is a spy game in which you enter the base of Elvin Atombender and try to find the pieces of a code that will foil his evil (and rather vague) world domination scheme.

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You navigate his base by riding up and down in elevator shafts, dodging robots using a very athletic diving roll and searching furniture and computer consoles for codes. It's a bit platformy, but also quite heavily puzzle-orientated. It's a slick and fast-paced action game - you're always playing against the clock - but you're unable to shoot, punch or attack anything. It's also pretty ruthless and difficult, but unlike so many early twitch games with their roots in the arcade, it's usually feels fair.

Considering this is a game that was first published almost a quarter century ago, it holds up incredibly well. The concept is ingenious, and the execution is bold and engaging. Like a lot of games from that era, the pacing can make completion feel like an uphill battle, but the overall experience is still overwhelmingly entertaining.

8/10

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