- Platform: C64
- Wii Points: 500
- In Real Money: GBP 3.50 / EUR 5 (approx)
Kristan already exploded all over this classic shoot-'em-up in our retro channel, giving it top marks, declaring it "effortlessly innovative and visually slick". I wouldn't go all the way up to a 10/10, but there's no denying that Uridium represents the best of C64 shooters in the same way the International Karate demonstrates how original thinking flourished away from the American and Japanese arcade/console axis of power.
It's a horizontal shooter, but play it like R-Type and expect to get creamed. You're piloting a Manta fighter over the surface of fifteen alien Dreadnoughts, sent to steal precious minerals. Free to fly left or right, dictate your speed and even flip your ship on its side, your aim is to keep destroying the Dreadnought defences until you're able to land on its surface. You then play a quick mini-game to earn some bonus points, before zipping off as it exploderises to bits.
As well as the lateral freedom of movement, another change from formula is that it's impossible to collide with the smaller alien ships. You simply fly above or below them. Their shots, however, are instantly fatal - as are the homing missiles that launch should you linger in one place too long, and the elevated structures that must be flown around.
It's hard but it's also fair and, by avoiding the linear progression of the shmup genre, places the onus for success firmly in your hands. There are elements of Defender, Xevious and Gradius all thrown into the mix, but the end result is something unique and a testament to developer Andrew Braybrook's ingenuity. Quibble all you like about the VC's inflated prices - I'll probably agree with you - but if you genuinely resent paying a few quid (or Euros) for Uridium, you may very well be insane.
- Platform: N64
- Wii Points: 1000
- In Real Money: GBP 7.00 / EUR 10.00 (approx)
And so to the final game of the trio and, oh, the sweet irony that the game that appeared on the mightier of the two 64-suffixed platforms is also the weakest.
Already a fairly shameless OutRun knock-off in the arcades - even the titles for the music tracks are derivative - it's not hard to see why SEGA-hating Nintendo wanted this on their platform. And, to begin with, it looks the part - a trans-American racing game with reasonably realistic car models, undulating courses and civilian traffic.
It doesn't take long for the initial sheen to wear thin, though. For one thing, the game is horribly easy. You can clear all fifteen stages of the Cruise mode in less than half an hour, by which time you'll have seen all you need. Collision detection is haphazard, with trucks and cars often landing right on top of you, forcing you to crash again. Smashes caused by blind corners are common but, perversely, your car is quite capable of driving through tree trunks, lampposts and pretty much everything else in the game.
You can get into first place within ten seconds of starting a race and, assuming you don't crash into every car you see, you should stay in pole position all the way to the finish line. You can crank up the difficulty, but all that does is make the rival AI even more skewed than it already is. Other racers become glued to your rear bumper, or zoom past at unmatchable speeds, only to slow down again so you can catch them.
A classic example of graphics over gameplay, so don't be fooled by the slick appearance - there's very little game beneath the glossy paint job.