Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels
- Platform: NES
- Wii Points: 600
- In Real Money: GBP 4.20 / EUR 6 (approx)
Hmm. Bit of déjà vu, this one. Yes, we already reviewed this, back in September last year, when it kicked off the very first Hanabi Festival. Considered the true sequel to Super Mario Bros, but only released in Japan (the West got a rebranded Doki Doki Panic with Mario sprites) it was a potent example of the sort of obscure offering Nintendo planned to celebrate with their virtual festivities.
Then they had the not-entirely-clever idea of making it a limited offer. When the first Hanabi Festival ended, The Lost Levels vanished from the VC. A bit pointless, really, and very annoying for anyone who didn't download it when they had the chance. Well, now everyone can download it again - and this time it's not going anywhere.
For those who can't be arsed clicking on the link above to see what I blabbed last time, it's a lovely little platform game - though perhaps not different enough from Super Mario Bros. to make it an absolute must-have for anyone but dedicated Mario completists. Many will know it from the slightly inferior version bundled into the Super Mario All-Stars package, but it's worth seeing it in its original form. The only major complaint is that it's a far cry from the quivering majesty of Super Mario Bros. 3, but then most things are.
Samurai Shodown II
- Platform: NeoGeo
- Wii Points: 900
- In Real Money: GBP 6.30 / EUR 9 (approx)
"Long long ago there were a man who try to make his skill ultimate." So begins yet another of SNK's fighting games, though the Samurai Shodown series always ploughed its own furrow, thus taking it out of direct competition with the mighty Street Fighter II.
It's a swordplay game, and it improves on the first Samurai Shodown in numerous ways. There are more characters, but that's par for the course in the genre. It's still a fun and varied line-up, though, with everyone from stereotypical samurai to hulking brutes, old geezers and girls with pet falcons. It's nicely balanced as well, although you may not realise this when Earthquake pummels you with his sodding chain thing all the time. Most interesting are the subtle flexibilities woven into the controls, enabling you to roll and flip out of danger, duck and jump to avoid high and low attacks, and a parry move that turns a last-second block into an offensive opening.
SNK fans will love all the nods to the company's other fighting games, while newcomers will find an accessible but deep combat system that renders button-mashing entirely unnecessary. The only quibbles are with the conversion, which is often noticeably slow, and the controls, which are unwieldy on the remote but not optimised for the GameCube pad either. The Classic Controller is your best bet, but if you don't have one of those it can be a bit of a fiddle.
Still, this is another fine Neo Geo fighting game and one that deserves attention from casual fighting fans as well as the inevitable hardcore devotees.