Virtual Console Roundup • Page 3

Mario RPG, Lost Levels, Sam Shodown II, Pitstop II, Ecco Jr, Splatterhouse 2.

Pitstop II

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

Driving games have come so far that it seems impossible that a game created almost a quarter of a century ago could impress our modern jaded eyes. Jerky scrolling, lurching controls and no depth whatsoever - that's what you'd expect from a 1984 Formula 1 title.

Pitstop II should come as a shock then, since it's still a fantastically fun racer, and suffers from none of the problems you'd expect given its vintage. The scrolling is smooth, while control is especially surprising. Rather than juddering from left to right, one square at a time, you glide effortlessly around the track with arcade precision. And as for depth, well, it's not going to wow the petrolheads who spend hours tuning in their virtual garages in games like Gran Turismo or PGR, but there are pitstops (as the name suggests) and factors like tire damage to take into consideration.

There's even a split-screen two-player mode, which is just as well since the CPU cars aren't the brightest sparks on the grid. What they lack in AI they make up in numbers though, and working your way to the front of the pack is still a commendable challenge.

Obviously, many of these achievements will be lost on the majority of players who - understandably - won't feel like filtering the experience through the prism of 1984 to appreciate just how ahead of its peers Pitstop II really was. For those who appreciate vintage software for more than just nostalgic giggles, however, this is am impressive slice of history.

7/10

Ecco Jr

  • Platform: Megadrive
  • Wii Points: 800
  • In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8 (approx)

The title is a bit of a giveaway here. After the bizarre mixture of New Age ambience and punishing gameplay of the first two Ecco games, this junior edition aimed to make things more accessible. It certainly succeeds in that aim, but the result is rather bland and lacks the off-the-wall weirdness that made the original games worth sticking with.

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As before, you guide a younger Ecco through a series of undersea mazes, using your sonar to locate other aquatic pals and objects. The drop in difficulty is immediately noticeable, as this is no longer an underwater arena of death where absolutely everything is out to harm you. The tasks are much simpler as well, and by following your sonar echoes none of them prove terribly hard to complete. There are two new playable characters to choose from - a baby orca and a slightly different dolphin - but neither changes the gameplay in any meaningful manner.

If you're buying for the youngsters then they may find some amusement here, though there are far more reliable options on the VC that appeal to kids more comprehensively. Ecco Jr may not be difficult, but the controls are still a touch fiddly and some of the mazes can be frustrating to younger eyes, thanks to the repetitive scenery.

6/10

Splatterhouse 2

  • Platform: Megadrive
  • Wii Points: 800
  • In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8 (approx)
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I hate the first Splatterhouse and, since this is basically the exact same game with a 2 on the end, I can't help but hate this one as well. Once again playing as "Rick", the lovelorn sap granted monster-crushing power by a spooky mask, you plod from left to right (and sometimes right to left) splattering creatures with one hit, and trying to use your laughably rigid jump to avoid damage.

It's one of those games where you can be defeated by an annoyingly wide puddle of corrosive slime, and the fact that the game still takes place on a fixed 2D plane - with no movement up or down at all - is rather embarrassing. Wikipedia hilariously calls the game "survival horror", though the only thing you'll have to survive is tedium from the one-note gameplay and pathetically juvenile horror content. Ooh, fountains of green goo! Don't tell Mum!

If you're in the mood for a scrolling beat-'em-up, download Streets of Rage 2 instead. You can actually move around the screen, and have more than two attacks. Splatterhouse was pointless in 1992 and it's even more pointless now. You'd have to be psychotically nostalgic to find any real merit in this flimsy effort.

2/10

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