Virtual Console Roundup • Page 2

Gradius II, Final Soldier, Columns 3.

Final Soldier

  • Platform: TurboGrafx 16
  • Wii Points: 700
  • In Real Money: GBP 4.90 / EUR 7 (approx)

This is the vertically-inclined shooter of this week's pair, and also the one that will be of more interest to those outside the frighteningly focused shoot-'em-up hardcore lobby. The main reason for this is that it's not freakishly hard, increasing your firepower with a generous number of floating letter power-ups while taking its time to ramp up the enemy attacks.

In a genre where simply getting to the end of the first stage can be an achievement, this gentler approach (assuming you opt for the normal mode) makes everything much more accessible to mere mortals who don't have super-powered thumbs.

The downside is that there's not much in the way of surprise or innovation along the way. Turrets pop up and down, enemies swoop and swirl from the side of the screen just as they have since Galaga was a baby, and the bosses are inevitably large mechanical tank things that shuffle about at the top of the screen lobbing reams of bullets at you but always leaving convenient gaps to slip past.

On a normal week I'd probably be quite forgiving to such a game, simply because shoot-'em-ups are fun and while the VC is overpopulated with the things, too few of them are really geared towards the mainstream player. However, thanks to the ludicrous price inflation for the Hanabi wotsit, this decent effort is rendered less appealing.

6/10

Columns 3: Revenge of Columns

  • Platform: Megadrive
  • Wii Points: 900
  • In Real Money: GBP 6.30 / EUR 9 (approx)

I'm almost tempted to give this 10/10 just for the awesome title alone. What next? Vengeance of the Buttresses? The Proscenium Arch Strikes Back? Unfortunately this isn't an epic saga of architectural intrigue but yet another of those block-dropping puzzlers that mysteriously sprouted everywhere when a certain Russian game became a phenomena.

2

Clearing the screen of coloured blobs is the inevitable aim of the game, though in this variation on the theme the blobs descend in vertical groups of three. You can scroll the blobs up and down to change their position, but there's no way of rotating them sideways. Form lines of three - up, down or diagonally - and they vanish. That's pretty much it.

Tacked on around this core concept is a story mode which finds you venturing inside a pyramid and challenging the various creatures and monsters within to blob-swapping matches. Using certain magical gems delivers negative status effects on your opponent so, yeah, it's a little bit like Puzzle Quest only not nearly as funny or interesting. As the whole game is centred on this competitive play, the best reason to pick this up is for the spread of multiplayer options which can allow up to five players at once.

The best reason to not pick it up is, once again, the price. It's the sort of puzzler that would be fine as part of a compilation, but even at 800 Wii Points this would be dubious value. There's therefore nothing here to justify the additional 100 points on top. It reminds me most of the recent XBLA offering, TiQal, and that wasn't worth the price either.

5/10

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About the author

Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead

Contributor

Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop's Chaos.

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