Virtual Console Roundup
Bonk 3 and Vegas Stakes.
Um, yeah. Sorry. Not the most dynamic intro. I usually try to start off these articles with a bit more energy, usually pumped up with some fine wines and sexy dancing (you don't see this part, but I like to think it comes across in the writing) but it's just that, well, this week...it's all a bit bleh. Only two new games, neither of which will send you scurrying to the Wii Store. So, hmm. Yeah. Here they are.
Wii Points: 800
In Real Money: GBP 6.00 / EUR 8.00
Gambling games. Curious things, really. Without real money at stake, games of chance always have a certain sense of redundancy hanging over them. This SNES update of Vegas Dreams offers five traditional Vegas cash-sucking pastimes - blackjack, roulette, slot machine, seven-card stud poker and the always-amusing craps.
The two card-games are probably the best of the bunch, since they involve a tangible amount of skill even with no money at stake, but both roulette and craps are clearly little more than random number generators with a graphical interface. The solitary slot machine is even more pointless. Put your (pretend) coins in, pull the (pretend) handle, ooh, better luck next time. There's no hold, or nudge, or anything that vaguely resembles entertainment in this mindless task.
Vegas Stakes beefs up its slender charms with a cheesily quaint story, which casts you as one of a group of friends hoping to strike it rich in the sinful city. It's a cute idea, starting you with USD 1000 with a cool ten million your ultimate goal, but all the silly hotel room phone calls and animated intro sequences can't disguise the fact that all these characters really do is act as on-demand hint dispensers.
Obviously the game is more interesting in multiplayer mode but if you peek over the fence at Xbox Live Arcade, and take a look at fully-featured online gambling games like Texas Hold 'Em, you can't help feeling that games like this just highlight the shortcomings of the Virtual Console while adding little of value.
Bonk 3: Bonk's Big Adventure
Platform: TurboGrafx 16
Wii Points: 600
In Real Money: 4.20 GBP/6 EUR (approx)
First a game that includes craps, and now the return of a bulbous-domed caveman with the sexually suggestive name? It's pun heaven and, were this twenty years ago, I'd probably have used at least seven oo-ers and three fnarrs by now.
I've made no secret of my fondness for the Bonk games in round-ups past - their combination of broad colourful platforming, free-roaming levels and goofy power-ups bring a smile to my face even though the games themselves are fairly basic.
This third outing for the head-butting hero offers two-player co-op as its main justification for existing, as well as a few new abilities (such as growing to giant size, an idea that Mario finally got round to swiping earlier this year) but it's clear that the gameplay was running on fumes by this point. For every moment of inspired lunacy (such as the crushing block that turns you into a crab) there's plenty more that feels tired and obvious. Cave levels where drips of water can kill you? You'd better believe it.
It's not noticeably different to the already available Bonk's Adventure or Bonk's Revenge and while die-hard Bonk fans will enjoy being one step closer to Bonk completism, it's ultimately just another identikit platform game making up the numbers on the VC. Cute, but missable.