WiiWare and Virtual Console Roundup • Page 2

Strong Bad Episode 2, Helix, Jumpman, Boulder Dash, Sonic.

Sonic the Hedgehog

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

There hasn't been a Master System game added to the VC in over three months, so you have to wonder why Sonic the Hedgehog is the game to break the dry spell. This is, after all, a slightly gimped version of a game that's been on the Virtual Console since launch.

So what you're getting is Sonic the Hedgehog with no background scrolling, lower quality music and, since the gems now appear in the levels rather than special stages, less gameplay. It's also 300 Points cheaper, of course.

There's not much else to say. It's Sonic. Not quite as awesome as some people may recall, and certainly not as good as some of the immediate sequels, but still one of the all-time favourite platform games for a very good reason. If you don't already own the marginally superior Megadrive version, here's a cheaper option.

8/10

Jumpman

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

Jumpman was, of course, Mario's original name back when he tackled Donkey Kong in the arcade. This 1983 platform game rips off both name and concept with admirable gusto, but rather forgets to mimic the more refined gameplay of Nintendo's hit.

You guide Jumpman around a series of familiar platforms and ladders, touching bombs to defuse them. Each level introduces more hazards and enemies to make this simple task tougher than it looks. Bullets that suddenly change direction. Robots that patrol the platforms. Bombs that drop from the sky. You know the drill.

jumpman

It's not that Jumpman is short of ideas. Across the thirty levels there are numerous tweaks to the formula. In one level, you can shoot instead of jump. Another finds you destroying the platform beneath your feet whenever you jump. It's the core gameplay that lets the game down, with the same sort of relentlessly fussy quirks that spoiled Spelunker.

There's a perfect example on the very first stage. There's a small raised area at the bottom. Jump off it and you land in good health. Walk off the edge and you die, despite a shorter drop than when you jumped. You get a generous bunch of lives with which to get used to the game's foibles, but with so many better games available there's not much reason to make that extra effort.

3/10

Boulder Dash

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

Here's a game that has aged much better than Jumpman. Boulder Dash is one of those games that could really only work in 2D, and has inspired countless remakes, tributes and rip-offs over the years. Amazingly, it still feels fresh and addictive.

boulder

Grabbing diamonds is the aim of the game, but to get to them you must tunnel through the ground. Boulders litter the way ahead, and should you remove the dirt beneath one, it will fall. The same is true if you dig away the dirt down the side of a pile of boulders. The physics won't impress anyone reared on today's software, but it's still a lot of fun to cause mini-rockslides, escaping by the skin of your teeth.

It looks like a platformer, but is actually a puzzle game. After a few easy levels to get you eased into the concept, the game starts putting you in fiendish situations where a wrong move can leave you trapped, crushed or unable to reach a diamond because of your rash actions. Forward planning and nimble movement are your friend.

Boulder Dash never quite rose to the level of the gaming greats, perhaps because it lacked an identifiable or personable star. Rockford, the hero, is a squat little boggle-eyed freak. Still, it's definitely worth 500 Points to revisit a solid game that is as moreish in 2008 as it was in 1984.

7/10

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