Virtual Console Roundup

Gley Lancer, Star Parodier, Digital Champ.

And the Hanabi Festival keeps rolling on, like a giant wheel of cheese thundering across a cartoon meadow. Are we the excited mice at the other end of the field, drooling in anticipation, or are we the hapless beetles, crushed beneath the merciless lactose scythe as it spirals ever onwards, oblivious to our tiny insect shrieks?

As always, dearest reader, you decide...

Gley Lancer

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

Do you know how hard it is to do this every week without resorting to sarcastic "Oh look, another shoot-'em-up" quips? It's really hard. This week certainly doesn't help matters, adding another two cult Japanese shooters to the Virtual Console's already groaning pile.

1

This one goes lefty-right, not upply-down, and is another from that little shmup sub-genre where you get to choose your attack pattern before the game starts. This screen is in English, and has been translated in a very chatty informal style. It's also refreshingly honest. "You can aim at enemies automatically," it says of a configuration that aims your remote pods at the bad guys for you, "But it does not necessarily move as you like. Do not count on it too much." Yes, that's right. The shooting game just told you not to rely on your weapons too much.

The other options (there are seven in all) tend to require you to rotate your fire manually, or follow in the footsteps of games like R-Type by having auxiliary attack drones follow you around the screen. Either way, there's not much here to distinguish it from the multitude of similar shooters already available cheaper on the VC.

The speed is sluggish, at least on the default setting, and you need to ramp it up in the options for the game to feel remotely playable. Even then, frustration rears its head all too soon, with an opening level that takes place against a scrolling parallax asteroid field that sends you cross-eyed. Mix in a one-hit-kill element with some enemies that are exactly the same colour as the hypnotic backdrop, and you've got a game that really doesn't command 900 points.

4/10

Star Parodier

  • Platform: TurboGrafx 16
  • Wii Points: 900
  • In Real Money: GBP 6.30 / EUR 9 (approx)

The peculiar practice of game parodies, or "swapping serious graphics for goofy nonsense", never really caught on in the West but seems to have been the height of hilarity in Japan in games like Parodius and this effort from Hudson are anything to go by.

2

This one takes aim at Star Soldier, mashing it up with all manner of cutesy weirdness, much of it inspired by other Hudson games. It's a vertical shooter, naturally, in which you can take to the skies in the original Star Solider ship, as a flying Bomberman or even as a super-powered TurboGrafx console. Things then unfold much as they did in Star Soldier, except everything is now colourful and cheery and often plain daft. Little blobby bad guys wave white flags in surrender, while power-ups literally pour down the screen, changing your attack patterns every few seconds. It all looks a bit fuzzy compared to the usual TurboGrafx efforts though, and takes up far too much space on your tiny Wii hard drive because of the enormous CD soundtrack.

It's certainly a lot less daunting than most shooters though, which coupled with the perky presentation and crisp control may make this a more tempting proposition for the family crowd than the usual thumb-blistering offerings. It's certainly a pleasant entry in the genre, quirky rather than laugh-out-loud funny, and worth a look if you value concept over challenge.

7/10

Digital Champ

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

All too often, the TurboGrafx console was the gaming equivalent of a garish sports car. Yes, it looked impressive at first glance, but it was only when you got it home that you realised it was going to cost you a fortune in petrol. If petrol was games, that is, and if games were what cars needed to run and...er...stuff.

3

Nimbly leaping from the mangled wreckage of yet another over-extended metaphor, here's Digital Champ - a TurboGrafx boxing game that typified the all mouth and no trousers ethos behind so many games on that platform. It thumbs its nose rather obviously in the direction of Punch Out, but despite boasting bigger, more colourful characters, it rather embarrasses itself by not being nearly as good.

It also commits the cardinal sin of boxing games by having a spoof Stallone character, although this one looks more like Dot Cotton. In fact, the game reminds me most of the old Spectrum boxing game, cheekily called Rocky, produced by Spanish software house Dinamic. And, yes, even that creaky 8-bit effort was better than this.

Key to Digital Champ's failure to excite is the rather floaty control, which leaves you flailing at thin air all too often, unsure as to exactly what your aim and reach are at any given moment. Even when you land a flurry of punches, there doesn't seem to be any tangible result and you end up slugging away for far too long, wondering when it'll end. The fact that your opponents drift around the ring, in and out of range, doesn't help and it doesn't take long for you to start yearning for good old Punch Out. It's older but better, and you can already get it on the VC for almost half the price of this inflated "import".

4/10

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About the author

Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead

Senior Contributor, Eurogamer.net

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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