- Platform: NeoGeo
- Wii Points: 900
- In Real Money: GBP 6.30 / EUR 9 (approx)
Despite the ubiquity of Street Fighter across multiple formats, the Neo Geo was, of course, considered the spiritual home of the 2D fighting game. It hosted more exclusive sprite-fighters than any other handheld (probably any console, period) and so it seems silly to complain when last week's addition of Fatal Fury is followed up with another brawler from the Neo Geo library.
World Heroes centres around yet another martial arts tournament, but this one has a twist. The combatants have all travelled through time to take part, often loosely based on real historical figures. So you get a Genghis Khan guy. You get Rasputin and Joan of Arc. You get Japanese legends like Hanzo Hattori and Kotaro Fuma. You get, er, Bruce Lee, Hulk Hogan and a Nazi cyborg. And an alien.
OK, maybe thematic consistency isn't the game's strong point but nor, sadly, is combat. It's not bad, just rather flat and lifeless compared to what other series were doing at the same time. Combo options are limited, with special moves that are so specific to certain situations that you soon forget they're even there. The best thing you can say about it is that it's a lot easier than some of its peers, making it more appealing to those who are sick of being massacred by M. Bison.
So it's not that World Heroes is another fighting game, it's just a rather limp and pointless one when compared to the wealth of combo-pummeling classics that are out there already. There are better fighters on the VC - like the aforementioned Fatal Fury, for one - but there are also far better Neo Geo fighters that deserve this download slot more. King of Fighters, perhaps? Samurai Shodown? The Last Blade? All more worthy of our time and frankly ridiculous 900 point price tag than World Heroes.
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
- Platform: NES
- Wii Points: 500
- In Real Money: GBP 3.75 / EUR 5.00 (approx)
Normally, the arrival of a Castlevania game on any retro download system should be cause for celebration, but in the case of Simon's Quest the reaction is more like a curt nod of the head and, "Oh, it's you. I suppose you'd better come in."
The original Castlevania could only hint at the greatness that lay ahead years down the road, but this first sequel made the common mistake of changing too much too soon, and losing sight of our old friend Fun in the process. It does introduce the free-roaming level design that would become a series hallmark (even if it was borrowed from Metroid) while the addition of adventure game elements such as chatty NPCs, shops and a character who levels up all should have resulted in a much better game.
Unfortunately, the freedom to wander back and forth through the game - searching for five bits of dead Dracula, in case you were wondering - leads to confusion rather than excitement, as new areas are only accessible when you perform stupidly obscure tasks that the game is in no hurry to explain. Objects must be purchased using hearts dropped by defeated enemies, but die and you lose them all and have to start over. Add in the "realistic" day and night system, which basically closes all the shops and fills the game with monsters every few minutes and you've got a game that frustrate more than it entertains.
For all the ideas it introduces which would go on to become central to the Castlevania experience, Simon's Quest is full of inconsistent rules, clunky gameplay and slack pacing. It does at least continue the fine tradition of gothic bollocks dialogue though. What a horrible night to have a curse indeed.