Are you still enjoying Paper Mario? I hope so, since there's not much this week to tempt you away from its flappy embrace. And that's a weird thing to say, since two our of this week's three new games are worthy of note, but their downloadable appeal is somewhat dimmed by the inscrutable VC selection process. You'll see what I mean...
Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
- Platform: SNES
- Wii Points: 800
One of the many Street Fighter II variants that seemingly exist only to confuse people who have yet to learn why that man in the pyjamas keeps shouting "Hurry! Ooh, Ken!" Hyper Fighting started life as Capcom's official response to numerous modified bootleg arcade cabinets which tweaked Street Fighter II Champion Edition into a faster beast. Thus the main point of difference between this and previous SF outings was increased speed - although this benefit is rendered fairly negligible once you factor in the conversion from arcade to SNES, and from NTSC to PAL. More apparent changes are in expanded move sets for the characters, with greater emphasis on aerial attacks.
Of course, if you've already downloaded Street Fighter II: The World Warrior then you'll feel like a bit of a numpty now that this superior version is here, with its larger roster of characters (all four bosses are playable from the start) and generally more fluid combat system. Indeed, if you cast your eyes back through time, you'll see that I wisely advised fighty fans to "wait and see if any of the Turbo follow-ups crop up before making the investment".
Well, the follow-up is indeed here and is well worth 800 points. It's still the finest 2D fighter around, an absolute masterclass in balanced gameplay, and the sort of game you'll return to for years to come. It would, of course, be grossly inappropriate to point out that a superb port of the arcade original is already out on Xbox Live Arcade, including a fantastic online two-player mode which cleverly mimics the "winner stays on" arcade ethos. If you have both consoles, that's the one you really want.
- Platform: NES
- Wii Points: 500
And here's a similar quandary. The original Metroid is a real treat - a free-roaming platform game that becomes deeper and richer the more you explore. It encourages you to discover new abilities and weapons, and then challenges you to use lateral thinking to use them to your best advantage. Compared to the rigid linear rivals of the time (1986) it was obviously years ahead of its time.
It also boasted the greatest twist ending since Darth Vader unleashed the mother of all paternity claims in Empire Strikes Back. Depending on how fast you complete the game, you get to discover that Samus, the rough n' tough armoured bounty hunter under your control was a lithe young maiden all along. Do really well, and you even get to see her in her skimpies as a final reward. Mmmm, liberating!
It's certainly worth the measly 500 points, so why am I feeling so cagey about giving it an enthusiastic endorsement? Well, because this is the first in a series and, unlike movies, most games tend to improve with each sequel rather than diminish. Dedicated retro archivists will obviously value the chance to collect the entire run in chronological order, but those casual players just looking for the pick of the pack would do well to wait for Super Metroid which will probably be along in a few months.
- Platform: TurboGrafx16
- Wii Points: 600
I can't help reading the title of this game in the style of legendary Yorkshireman Brian Glover, and then laughing like a schoolboy because it sounds a bit rude. "Silence the buggers" he barks, before stomping off to shout at that kid who had Kes.
Anyway...let's at least be grateful that this week's TG16 offering isn't another shoot-em-up or bobble-headed cartoon platformer. Not that there's anything wrong with those, it just gets really bloody hard trying to think up new things to say about them. No, this is a first-person shooter. For reals. In fact, it's a first-person shooter which pre-dates both Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. It's also not nearly as good, but let's not harsh the buzz too much, eh?
Clearly inspired by Aliens, you play a hardy "debugger", a sort of freelance troubleshooter, tasked with investigating a monster-infested cargo station. You have an accomplice, who offers advice over the radio but precious little in the way of armed support, and an arsenal of weapons to choose from. You also have far too many identical corridors and doorways to navigate, and the general lack of enemies doesn't exactly help to alleviate the tedium. Exploration rather than extermination is the order of the day, but even exploring becomes a bit of a chore as time goes by.
It's bound to appeal to a few people on curiosity value alone, and it's technically quite advanced for its time, but there are more rewarding ways to spend your points.