The long-awaited debut of WiiWare finally puts Nintendo in direct competition with Microsoft and Sony in the realm of downloadable original software. They've certainly started strongly, with developers like Frontier and Square both helping to expand our expectations of what a downloadable game can offer. But this latest addition to the Wii arsenal also works to the detriment of the Virtual Console, a service which has long been blighted by arbitrary pricing and often baffling selections. Will Nintendo be able to keep charging 800 Wii Points for less-than-stellar SNES games when just a few hundred points more can purchase something like LostWinds?
Regardless, WiiWare has got off to an eclectic start. Check out our reviews of LostWinds and My Life as a King elsewhere on the site, and read on for our critical appraisal of the rest of the launch line-up...
Star Soldier R
- Developer: Hudson
- Wii Points: 800 Wii Points
- In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8 approx
Given the proliferation of vintage shoot-'em-ups on the Virtual Console, it seems strange to make one a part of the starting line-up for WiiWare. What's even stranger is that Star Soldier R is about as niche as it's possible to get, designed to appeal solely to the score-chasing devotees.
The guts of the game are exactly as you'd expect - you pilot a nifty spaceship up the screen, blowing up swarms of enemies and scooping up as many power-up icons as you can while dodging incoming fire. Where the game distinguishes itself is in its brevity and focus. You choose between a two-minute or five-minute game and try to amass as many points as possible in this tight timeframe. This means that there's only room in the game for two short levels, and a couple of boss fights. There's also a third mode, which seems bizarrely pointless. In this one you advance up a screen crammed with targets and must hammer the fire button as many times as possible. That's it. You're ranked based on how many times per second you could spam the button.
I'm not about to criticise the game for targeting such a narrow niche (though even then it's over-priced for what there is) but the game would be a lot easier to defend if it was a more interesting shoot-'em-up. The level designs are fairly generic, and even within the confines of the small play area there's little potential for variation. Even by the standards of other re-released retro-flavoured score-based blasters such as Rez and Triggerheart Exelica, this is a slender experience.
It's all about shooting faster and better, not discovering clever new routes, so unless you're the sort of person who actively enjoys playing the same small sections over and over, searching for new ways to eke out those extra few points, there's absolutely nothing here to warrant an 800-Point purchase.